Humankind has enjoyed the benefits of the spicy Black Pepper fruit for thousands of years. Black Pepper essential oil works wonders for muscle pains, digestive troubles and difficult moments that need courage and fortitude to navigate through. It is a wonderful edition to the first-aid kit or travel pack. The familiar and spicy scent provides us with a calm yet energetic space, perfect for finishing projects and breathing warmth and life into new hopes and dreams.
Where is Black Pepper essential oil from?
Our Piper nigrum essential oil is sourced from India. Black Pepper oil is native to India. It is also cultivated in Indonesia, Vietnam and tropical regions of Africa.
How is Black Pepper essential oil made?
Black Pepper essential oil is steam distilled from the fruit we know as peppercorns. After the fruit has been harvested and dried it is lightly crushed and placed in a still. Steam is directed through the plant material which causes the valuable aromatic compounds to be vaporised. This steam flows into tubes that are cooled, causing it to return back to liquid form. The liquid is a mixture of essential oil and aromatic water or hydrosol. Once the liquid is collected, the essential oil floats to the top and is siphoned off ready for bottling. While Black Pepper hydrosol isn’t commonly used in aromatherapy, it has been noted for its antiseptic properties.
What does Black Pepper look like?
The plant, Piper nigrum, is actually a climber that can reach up to 10 metres high. Black Pepper is usually planted next to a supporting structure to allow it to grow to its full potential. The plant enjoys a long rainy season and very hot temperatures. It can take around 2 to 5 years for the Black Pepper to start fruiting and can be productive for up to 40 years.
The plant has wide shiny leaves and the fruit, shaped like little round beads, grows packed together on spikes. The young fruit is green. Once the fruit turns red the spike is harvested and is processed in different ways to produce a variety of products such as white or black pepper.
What does Black Pepper essential oil smell like?
Black Pepper has a soaring sweet note that is tempered by dry and slightly resinous tones. Underneath that we can detect a scent that reminds us of fresh peppercorns… without the drama of making us sneeze.
History of Black Pepper
It is amazing to think that the humble peppercorns we spill on the floor while filling up the pepper grinder were once so valuable that they shaped global exploration, started conflict and were used as currency.
Black Pepper is one of the oldest known spices. An early record of the plant was found in a 4th Century BCE work by Theophrastus who is considered the Father of Botany. The desire for new spice trade routes sparked exploration of the globe, including to the New World.
Throughout the ages, many cultures understood the value and benefits of the spice. Black Pepper has been used in natural medicine and cuisine in India for thousands of years. From India, the spice was brought to Indonesia for cultivation. It played a big part in the Roman and Chinese empires where it was imported in large volumes. Peppercorns were found in the nostrils of the mummified Ramesses II perhaps to sweeten his journey in the afterlife.
Black Pepper finally reached the height of its popularity in the Middle Ages in Europe. It was only available to the very wealthy and added to food increase the flavour and health benefits of dishes. While its value and popularity declined from this point in history, it is still one of the most used spices today.
Black Pepper essential oil benefits:
1. Muscle Pain – Black Pepper helps alleviate muscle pain with analgesic and warming properties. Especially useful for pain caused by strains, cramping and cold weather. A blend may be massaged into muscles, pre or post workout, to warm-up or improve recovery time.
2. Arthritis – Black Pepper can reduce pain and help maintain joint health through increased blood circulation. Best applied when arthritis is causing joints to ‘lock’ and general muscle stiffness.
3. Digestive Health - Black Pepper is calming to the stomach and may be useful in the treatment of painful wind, spasms, and cramps. May help improve appetite.
4. Tonic – This essential oil is generally a tonic for soft tissue. May improve muscle and blood vessel tone and support the integrity of the intestine.
5. Addiction- Limited research indicates that Black Pepper may alleviate symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal. Recommended use includes inhalation with the diffuser and massage around the rib area.
6. Mental Strength – Black Pepper has a warming and astringent quality that is both energising and strengthening to the mind. Use in the diffuser during a trying day or when you need extra mental focus and emotional endurance.
How to use Black Pepper essential oil
Diffuser: Add 6-8 drops of Black Pepper essential oil to a diffuser.
Quick fix: A few deep inhalations from the bottle can help when you are at work, in the car or anytime you need boost.
Shower: Add 2-3 drops to a face washer and pop in the corner of the shower to enjoy the benefits of a steam inhalation.
Topically: Massage 1 drop of essential oil with 5ml carrier oil and apply to sore muscles and joints with a circular movement.
Hand or Foot Bath: Add 2 to 3 drops of essential oil into a dispersant, such as olive oil, then add to a large bowl of warm water. May help to improve circulation in cold extremities or relieve sore, arthritic hands and feet.
Compress: Add 2 drops of essential oil to a bowl of water. For treating inflammation use cold water. For aching tight muscles use warm to hot water. Agitate a face washer in the water, wring out excess moisture and apply washer to the affected area. Repeat two or three times as the compress cools down or warms up.
Blends well with; Geranium, Ginger, Lavender, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Juniper, Palmarosa, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli.
Black Pepper essential oil safety
Peppercorns are hot and spicy so you might imagine that the essential oil would be irritating to the skin. But, the essential oil is considered very safe for any skin type and there are no known safety concerns with its use. Having said that, the essential oil is generally not used on the face. Black Pepper is safe to use during pregnancy, although best avoided for children under 2 years old.
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Author: Alissa Geddes
Alissa is a fully qualified Aromatherapist with further qualifications in Remedial Massage & Myotherapy. She qualified as an Aromatherapist in 2005 and has worked in hospitals, day spas and in clinical practice. Alissa contributes her extensive knowledge to ECO. and helps with detailed education to our ECO. community. Alissa is passionate about assisting and teaching others how to restore and maintain their health and wellbeing.