Did you know that Indian monks ate several peppercorns each day during their travels to give them endurance? I didn’t either! :-) As far back at the 1840s, “pepper” was used in a figurative sense to mean “spirit” or “energy”. Eventually it was shortened to the word “pep” that we use today”!
In ancient Greece, pepper was held in such high prestige that it was used as currency, and, in the Middle Ages, the wealth of a man was oftentimes measured by his stockpile of pepper. Pretty interesting stuff!
Turns out this common spice has a lot more going for it than you might imagine! Things like alleviating cold symptoms, detoxing your skin and even fighting cancer!
Here are just a few other uses for pepper that might surprise you:
A University of Michigan Cancer Center study suggests that a chemical compound in peppercorns called piperine may be able to help prevent a breast cancer tumor from developing. Pepper’s potential cancer-preventing properties are heightened when it’s paired with turmeric which is used in Indian-style dishes, such as yellow curry.
Keep Colored Clothes Brighter
Add a teaspoon of pepper to your wash load and your colors will stay bright longer. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of ground pepper per load, along with detergent, into your washing machine at the start of the wash cycle. It will drain away with the water, so there’s no extra cleanup.
Clarifying Skin Scrub
Get a smoother, clearer complexion with a scrub made from pepper. It stimulates your circulation to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to the surface of your skin, and the grains help slough off dead cells.
Try this recipe: In a bowl, combine 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unscented massage oil, 6 drops orange essential oil, and a pinch of ground pepper; stir together with a spoon. Rub the scrub onto wet skin in the bath or shower, then wash off.
Black pepper stimulates the taste buds in such a way that an alert is sent to to the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, thereby improving digestion. Hydrochloric acid is necessary for the digestion of proteins and other food components in the stomach. When the body’s production of hydrochloric acid is insufficient, food may sit in the stomach for an extended period of time, leading to heartburn or indigestion, or it may pass into the intestines, where it can be used as a food source for unfriendly gut bacteria, which produces gas, irritation, and/or diarrhea or constipation.
Help For The Sniffles
Pepper’s antibacterial properties make it an effective remedy for respiratory conditions including colds, coughs and flu. Pepper’s spiciness clears congestion and helps clear up sinusitis. Just add a few pinches of pepper to a bowl of chicken soup and you’ll soon be breathing easier.
Keep Bugs Off Your Garden Plants
Mix black pepper with flour. Sprinkle around your plants. Bugs will no longer invade your garden. It works within 24 hours and is even more effective than some synthetic pesticides. Plus, it doesn’t contaminate groundwater, harm humans or other animals, and insects do not develop a resistance to it.
Keep Ants Out Of The Kitchen
Black pepper repels ants because it contains capsaicin. Sprinkle some black pepper or cayenne pepper around the back of your countertops and along baseboards to keep the ants away. If you know where an ant hole is near your home you can also pour pepper down the hole.
If you are having difficulty with deer making a meal out of your plants, black pepper can provide a safe, simple and inexpensive option. Many animals do not like the taste or smell of black pepper. If you spray the leaves with a black pepper solution or sprinkle it on, animals are more likely to stay away from the plant. You may only have to do it a few times before they learn, and then you can discontinue the practice. This can also work on inside plants with dogs and cats.
Temporarily Fix A Radiator Leak
If your old clunker is starting to get a slow leak in the radiator, pour some black pepper into it to plug up small holes. This will buy you time to get it fixed properly.
Boil a 1/2 cup chopped parsnip, 3 grams of cinnamon, 1 gram of black pepper, and 3 grams of dried ginger in 2 cups of water. Drink this twice daily for all natural pain relief.
Weight Loss Aid
The outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells, keeping you slim while giving you energy to burn.
A few more interesting facts about pepper:
Pepper is the number one selling spice in America
Pepper comes in many colors, green, black, red and white but all comes from the same plant, the color is related to how ripe it is and how it has been processed
Pepper is native to India and grows as a tall vine with the peppercorns as flowering drupes
Pepper loses its flavor and aroma through evaporation so its best to keep it in an airtight container
And finally….the answer to the age-old question…why does pepper make you sneeze?
Pepper contains an alkaloid of pyridine called piperine. Piperine acts as an irritant if it gets into the nose. It stimulates (or irritates) the nerve endings inside the mucous membrane. This stimulation will cause you to sneeze.
And now you know!