Black Pepper, King of Spices


Black pepper, Piper nigrum, belonging to the family Piperaceae is a flowering plant indigenous to India that is grown for its fruit. It is called masoro in Hausa, uziza in Igbo and iyere in Yoruba. The fruit in the dried stage is known as peppercorn.

Constituents: The seed contains a generous quantity of vitamins A, C and K. Other vitamins and minerals in black pepper include: thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin, folic acid, choline, copper, iron, calcium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. It also contains flavonoids, carotenes and other anti-oxidants. The alkaloid piperine is responsible for most of the actions of black pepper. Other components of black pepper are alkamides, piptigrine, wisanine, dipiperamide D and dipiperamide E.

Preparations:  Black pepper is consumed in the raw form, either fresh or dried. Freshly crushed black pepper can be added in almost anything — salads, soups, pastas, sauces for steaks or curries, or used to coat meats such as duck or chicken before grilling. Freshly crushed pepper may be taken with a teaspoon of honey, or added to hot water and eucalyptus oil and the steam inhaled.

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Black pepper, king of spices

Pharmacological actions and medicinal uses: Studies reveal that people take black pepper by mouth for arthritis, asthma, upset stomach, bronchitis, a bacterial infection, colic, depression, diarrhoea, tiredness, gas, headache, sex drive, menstrual pain, stuffy nose, sinus infection, dizziness, discoloured skin (vitiligo), exercise performance, weight loss and cancer.

The potency of piperine in black pepper is greatly enhanced when combined with turmeric. Several studies have shown that piperine actually increases the bioavailability—and consequent effectiveness—of certain other substances, including curcumin. Piperine can be credited with the ability of black pepper to prevent cancer, ease digestion, as well as alleviate cough, cold and chest congestion, often caused by pollution, flu, or a viral infection.

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Black pepper—in combination with substances like castor oil or ghee—is also sometimes used to treat colic, anaemia, heart trouble and diabetes.

People apply black pepper to the skin for measles, nerve pain, itchy skin, caused by mites (scabies), and to treat pain. It is also used for insect bites.


People inhale black pepper oil to help quit smoking and reduce cravings, and for trouble swallowing.

Adverse effects:  Studies show that black pepper may cause gastric mucosal injury, over absorption of certain medications to dangerously high levels and accumulation of harmful toxins in the body. A study revealed that black pepper decreased the mating performance and fertility of mice; it damages sperm. Moreover, the pungency of black pepper can cause a burning sensation to the body of the infant in a pregnant woman.

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Economic potentials: Black pepper costs about ₦1,200 for 150gm or $1 per ton for ground dry powder. With increasing application of black pepper in food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industries, manufacturers are focusing on continuous new product innovations such as essential oils, black pepper spray and fragrances.

The black pepper market’s demand for both whole seed and ground segment is increasing as manufacturers are rapidly producing new varieties in seasonings and blends to increase their product portfolio. It is estimated that this increase in demand would create absolute opportunities in the near future.

The rising number of mergers and acquisitions among companies dealing on black pepper will increase sales of black pepper, ultimately creating a positive impact on the global market for black pepper



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