Black pepper as a natural compound
Black pepper is an ancient spice from India, even today in the Malabar coast is grown the most fragrant black pepper in the world. It contains as an active ingredient, an alkaloid called Piperine, which are due almost all the healing properties of the spice.
Piperine urges the taste buds, which in turn stimulate the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes, this is an action that tends to improve the functionality and speed of the digestive process. In many studies it is seen that 1.5 gr. a day of pepper accelerates intestinal transit time.
The pepper helps to better digest food and to metabolize more rapidly drugs via an increased synthesis of enzymes in the liver, this allows the piperine to increase the bioavailability and absorption of a range of drugs such as antibiotics, beta blockers and calcium channel blockers for hypertension, antiepileptics and antirheumatic. The pharmaceutical industry is using this principle in a number of compounds.
Piperine, like other spices, plays an important role in the prevention and treatment of cancer.
These studies, although made in laboratory on animals, have shown an inhibition of tumor cell growth in vitro in colon cancer and it is seen that a low but regular daily intake of black pepper can have a preventive effect against this cancer.
Indian researchers in a paper published in “Molecolar and Cellular Biochemistry” saw that the pepper held anticancer action even in the worthy threat lung cancer.
Very interesting action of piperine is held against the senile “mild cognitive impairment” where some Thai researchers have seen that the pepper significantly improved memory impairment and neuronal degeneration. I would like to recall in this context, that a contribution not yet experienced seriously, is also played by Nutmeg, Rosemary, Sage and Saffron. Remaining in the neurological field, piperine as regarding laboratory animals, engaged antidepressant-like in addition to causing an improvement in cognitive function.
Japanese researchers found that sniffing black pepper oil allows greater stability in the upright posture of the elderly by reducing the risk of falls, and the same team, has proven that smell of black pepper oil for a minute, helped to improve swallowing in over 100 subjects with stroke. The findings were published in the “Journal of the American Geriatric Society“.
American researchers have observed that the desire to smoke a cigarette was reduced after inhaling vapors containing essential oil of black pepper and, in laboratory animals, it was observed that piperine reduces blood pressure by counteracting the effect of nicotine that instead increases.
Laboratory animals fed a high-fat diet and black pepper showed much lower levels of oxidation: this process is the transformation of dietary cholesterol in plaques which are responsible for artery-clogging; the researchers concluded that piperine reduced oxidative stress of the cells induced by a diet high in fat.
Other interesting findings regarding the action of piperine concern hyperthyroidism in which the spice demonstrates a clear activity similar to that of drugs. It protects the cells of the cochlea (the sensory organ of hearing) from chemical damage and tends to preserve hearing.
British researchers have found that piperine stimulates growth of melanocytes (skin cells that contain melanin and give color to the skin). This observation confirms the traditional use of black pepper in the treatment of vitiligo, autoimmune skin disease in which the melanocytes are destroyed and form patches of depigmentation on the epidermis.
Dott. Claudio Sandri
Translated by Ms Jeanne Marie Arcaini