Diet  Nutrition  

The Magic of Black Pepper: Natural Relief for Joint Pain

Written by Koru Health Editorial Staff

Updated June 16, 2023

The most common household spice, black pepper, has so more to offer than just adding flavour to your meals.

Black Pepper has a plethora of other purposes, such as medicinal uses, preservative uses and is also added in perfumery. Recently, black pepper has been researched and explored for its many benefits including relief from aches and pains, cholesterol regulation in the body, increasing blood circulation and blood flow, detoxification effects and much more.

In this article, we will explore the wonders of black pepper oil and how it can provide natural relief for joint pain. If you suffer from joint and/or muscle pain and are seeking natural alternatives to improve your health, keep reading. Join us as we uncover the many benefits of black pepper oil, how to use it and the studies that support its benefits.

Brief Overview:

Black pepper, scientifically known as Piper nigrum, is a flowering vine native to South India. For centuries, it has been used in various cuisines around the world. What makes black pepper so fascinating is its active component called piperine, which contributes to its health-enhancing properties. Now, let’s dive into the purpose of this article and what you can expect to learn about this remarkable spice.

Health Benefits of Black Pepper:

Eases aches and pains:
Black pepper oil possesses warming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that can help reduce joint pain and stiffness, providing relief for individuals suffering from conditions like arthritis and rheumatism. It’s also great for reducing muscle injuries and tendonitis. This is due to its active compounds which work by inhibiting certain enzymes responsible for inflammation in the body, enhancing the body’s ability to heal.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine assessed the efficacy of aromatic essential oils on neck pain. When patients applied a cream composed of black pepper, marjoram, lavender and peppermint essential oils to the neck daily for a four-week period, the group reported improved pain tolerance and significant improvement of neck pain.

To use black pepper for joint and/or muscle pains, apply 2-3 drops of black pepper essential oil diluted in a bit of coconut or jojoba oil to the affected area. This will create a warming and soothing sensation.

Aids Digestion:
Consuming black pepper or applying black pepper oil to the stomach can serve a digestion aid, as it helps relieve diarrhoa by soothing intestinal cramps and spams, and it also can stimulate intestinal movement, relieving constipation. So depending on the dose, black pepper adapts to act as either a laxative or a antidiarrheal aid. It helps improve nutrient absorption and reduces digestive discomfort, making it particularly beneficial for those experiencing age-related digestive issues or conditions like IBS.

The Journal of Medicinal Food has a study which reports these regulating effects on gastrointestinal motility disorders. With a higher dose, piperine reported to have anti-diarrheal effects, and at a lower dose had a laxative effect.

What’s even more interesting, is that a few other studies linked IBS to depression, as serotonin – a hormone that plays a role in mood regulation – is largely produced in the intestines. In individuals presenting both depression-like behaviour and IBS, piperine showed to both increase the production of serotonin in the brain and the colon, and increase balance in gastro-intestinal symptoms. Fascinating right?

To ease the discomfort of constipation, diarrhoea or gas, take 1-2 drops of black pepper oil internally by adding it to a smoothie or soup. I can also be applied directly to the abdomen in a bit of carrier oil.

Lowers cholesterol:
Researchers found that supplementing rats which were fed a high fat diet, with black pepper resulted in a decrease in the levels of cholesterol, free fatty acids, phospholipids and triglycerides. This study from the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, is just some of the research that points toward using black pepper essential oil to reduce high fat levels in the body.

Lowers blood pressure:

When applied topically, black pepper essential oil appears to increase blood flow to the area by opening up the capillaries and drawing them more towards the surface of the skin. It would make sense that, when taken orally, black pepper can promote healthy blood circulation and even lower blood pressure, by dilating blood vessels.

A study from the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology showed that an intravenous administration of piperine decreased arterial pressure by dilating blood vessels in the heart.

To increase blood circulation and blood flow to the muscles and nerves, add 3-5 drops of oil to a warm compress and apply to the abdomen or to the area of concern.

Eases feelings of anxiety and depression and cigarette cravings:
As mentioned before, piperine can have a positive effect on serotonin production, and in turn help with psychosomatic issues. What’s more, a study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that inhalation of black pepper oil vapour can help alleviate smoking withdrawal symptoms, including cravings.

To ease these cravings, diffuse black pepper oil or inhale it directly from the bottle.

Enhances nutrient absorption:

Black pepper and piperine has been shown to have “biotransformative effects” and enhance the absorption and bioavailability of herbal and conventional drugs. This explains why you’ll often find it in some supplements, particularly those containing turmeric or curcumin.

Simply flavour your dishes with some black pepper or add some to your smoothies.

Can help stimulate appetite:

Inhalation and ingestion of black pepper can strongly stimulate the appetite and facilitate swallowing in those with neurological disorders, as it activates the orbitofrontal cortex.

These effects where explored and published in the Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine: pediatric patients who were being tube fed due to neurological disorders had black pepper intervention, and over half of them showed increases in the amount of oral intake and helped facilitate the swallowing movement.

Precautions

To ensure safe usage of black pepper essential oil, it is important to follow these guidelines:

  1. Dilution and Patch Test: To avoid potential skin irritation, dilute black pepper oil with a carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba oil before applying it topically. Prior to using it on a larger area, perform a patch test by applying a drop of diluted oil to a small area, like your wrist or foot, to check for any adverse reactions.
  2. Read Product Instructions: Always carefully read the instructions provided with the black pepper oil product you are using. This will ensure that you understand the recommended dosage and any specific precautions.
  3. Seek Medical Advice: If you are currently taking any medications or have ongoing health issues, it is advisable to consult your doctor before using black pepper essential oil. This will help you determine whether it is safe for you to use based on your individual circumstances.
  4. Pregnancy and Nursing: If you are pregnant or nursing, it is crucial to consult your doctor before using black pepper oil, both topically and internally. They can provide guidance based on your specific situation to ensure the safety of both you and your baby.

Conclusion

In conclusion, black pepper oil is not just a common spice, but a remarkable natural remedy with numerous benefits. It offers relief from joint pain, improves digestion, lowers cholesterol and enhances blood circulation. However, it’s essential to exercise caution by diluting the oil, conducting a patch test, and seeking medical advice if necessary. Incorporating black pepper oil into your routine is as easy as adding it to meals, using it topically, or inhaling its aroma. Experience the wonders of black pepper oil and enjoy the benefits it brings to your overall health and well-being.

Sources

Ou MC, Lee YF, Li CC, Wu SK. The effectiveness of essential oils for patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled study. J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Oct;20(10):771-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2013.0453. Epub 2014 Sep 5. PMID: 25192562.

Mehmood MH, Gilani AH. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of black pepper and piperine in gastrointestinal disorders. J Med Food. 2010 Oct;13(5):1086-96. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.1065. PMID: 20828313.

Wu SJ, Wang RY, Xue JX, Pan JC. [Effect of piperine on 5-HT and synaptophysin expression of rats with irritable bowel syndrome]. Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2013 Dec;48(12):1785-91. Chinese. PMID: 24689235.

Garvin B, Wiley JW. The role of serotonin in irritable bowel syndrome: implications for management. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2008 Aug;10(4):363-8. doi: 10.1007/s11894-008-0070-3. PMID: 18627647.

Vijayakumar, Ramasamy & Surya, Dhandapani & Rajagopal, Senthilkumar & Nalini, Namasivayam. (2002). Hypolipidemic Effect of Black Pepper (Piper nigrum Linn.) in Rats Fed High Fat Diet. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. 32. 31-42. 10.3164/jcbn.32.31.

Taqvi SI, Shah AJ, Gilani AH. Blood pressure lowering and vasomodulator effects of piperine. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2008 Nov;52(5):452-8. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e31818d07c0. PMID: 19033825.

Rose JE, Behm FM. Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms. Drug Alcohol Depend. 1994 Feb;34(3):225-9. doi: 10.1016/0376-8716(94)90160-0. PMID: 8033760.

Meghwal M, Goswami TK. Piper nigrum and piperine: an update. Phytother Res. 2013 Aug;27(8):1121-30. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4972. Epub 2013 Apr 29. PMID: 23625885.

Munakata M, Kobayashi K, Niisato-Nezu J, Tanaka S, Kakisaka Y, Ebihara T, Ebihara S, Haginoya K, Tsuchiya S, Onuma A. Olfactory stimulation using black pepper oil facilitates oral feeding in pediatric patients receiving long-term enteral nutrition. Tohoku J Exp Med. 2008 Apr;214(4):327-32. doi: 10.1620/tjem.214.327. PMID: 18441508.


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