Taste (Rasa): Pungent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Pacifying for Vata and Kapha
Benefits & Use: Black pepper stimulates the taste buds altering 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.) Because black pepper is a carminative (a substance that helps prevent the formation of intestinal gas) it helps prevent constipation, colic, and distension. When added to a person’s diet, black pepper promotes sweating and urination further removing toxins from the body. In Ayurvedic practices, pepper is added to tonics for colds and coughs. Pepper also provides relief from sinusitis and nasal congestion. It has an expectorant property that helps to break up the mucus and phlegm depositions in the respiratory tract, and its natural irritant quality helps you to expel these loosened material through the act of sneezing or coughing, which eliminates the material from the body and helps you to heal from whatever infection or illness caused the deposition in the first place.
Additional Uses: Earaches; insomnia; joint pain; tooth decay
In the Kitchen: In ancient times, black pepper held such high prestige that it was not only used as a seasoning but as a currency and a sacred offering. Nowadays it's readily available whole, crushed, and ground into powder and used in nearly every cuisine around the world. To ensure the best flavor and healing benefits, buy whole peppercorns and grind them in a mill just before adding to food. As this spice loses its flavor and aroma if cooked for too long, adding at the end of food preparation helps preserve the flavor.