Black pepper is one of the most widely used spices on the planet. It’s valued not only as a flavoring agent in our meals, but also for a variety of other purposes, such as medicinal uses, as a preservative and in perfumery. In recent decades, research has explored the many benefits of black pepper essential oil and its major active principle, piperine, which has the ability to enhance the digestive system and protect us against oxidative damage. (1)
That’s not all the oil of this common spice can do. Black pepper essential oils benefits include relieving aches and pains, lowering cholesterol, detoxing the body and enhancing circulation, among many more.
10 Black Pepper Essential Oil Benefits
1. Relieves Aches and Pains
Because of its warming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, black pepper oil works to reduce muscle injuries, tendonitis, and symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine assessed the efficacy of aromatic essential oils on neck pain. When patients applied a cream composed of black pepper, marjoram, lavender and peppermint essential oils to the neck daily for a four-week period, the group reported improved pain tolerance and significant improvement of neck pain. (2)
2. Aids Digestion
Black pepper oil may help ease the discomfort of constipation, diarrhea and gas. A range of studies has shown that it exhibits antidiarrheal, gastro-protective, antidiarrheal and antispasmodic activities. (3) Black pepper does this by stimulating the stomach to increase hydrochloric acid secretion, which is necessary for proper digestion. Black pepper has been used to effectively treat IBS symptoms as well as bladder dysfunctions. (4)
3. Lowers Cholesterol
A 2002 study on the hypolipidemic (lipid-lowering) effect of black pepper in rats fed a high-fat diet showed a decrease in the levels of cholesterol, free fatty acids, phospholipids and triglycerides. Researchers found that supplementation with black pepper elevated the concentration of HDL cholesterol and reduced the concentration of LDL cholesterol and VLDL cholesterol in the plasma of rats fed high-fat foods. Use black pepper essential oil internally to reduce high triglycerides and improve your total cholesterol levels. (5)
4. Has Antiviral Properties
The long-term use of antibiotics has resulted in the evolution of multi-drug-resistant bacteria. Research published in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology found that black pepper extract contains anti-virulence properties, meaning it targets bacterial virulence without affecting cell viability, which may be less prone to the development of drug resistance. The study showed that after screening 83 essential oils, black pepper, cananga and myrrh oil inhibited staphylococcus aureus biofilm formation and almost abolished the hemolytic (destruction of red blood cells) activity of S. aureus. (6)
5. Encourages Circulation
When black pepper essential oil is taken internally, it promotes healthy circulation and stimulates mucus and bile flow. It has warming properties when taken internally and applied topically. Mix black pepper oil with cinnamon or turmeric essential oil to enhance these circulatory activities. (7)
6. Exhibits Anticancer Activity
According to a 2010 study conducted at Michigan State University, black pepper oil and its constituents exhibit anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer activities. All compounds derived from black pepper suppressed human cancer cell proliferation, with peperine being the most effective compound. (8)
7. Eases Feelings of Anxiety and Cigarette Cravings
Black pepper oil may help reduce cravings for cigarettes and symptoms of anxiety in smokers deprived from smoking. A 1994 study published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that black pepper oil can suppress certain smoking withdrawal symptoms, including cravings for cigarettes. Forty-eight cigarette smokers participated in a three-hour session conducted after overnight deprivation from smoking. The participants were divided into three groups: One group of smokers puffed on a device that delivered a vapor from black pepper essential oil, a second group puffed on a device with a mint/menthol cartridge and a third group used a device containing an empty cartridge. After puffing and inhaling from the devices throughout the session, reported cravings for cigarettes were significantly reduced in the black pepper group relative to each of the two control groups.
In addition, negative effects and symptoms of anxiety were alleviated in the black pepper, and participants reported that the intensity of sensations in the chest was significantly higher with the black pepper cartilage. This study suggests that respiratory tract sensations are important in alleviating smoking withdrawal symptoms and cigarette substitutes delivering black pepper constituents may prove useful in smoking cessation treatment. Black pepper oil is also among the best essential oils for anxiety and nervous conditions. (9)
8. Helps Detoxify the Body
Black pepper oil creates a warming sensation when applied topically, so it increases sweating. It also serves as a diuretic and increases urination, helping remove bodily toxins and excess water from the body. This reduces swelling and inflammation; plus it can help lower blood pressure naturally. (10)
A 2013 study published in Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics found that piperine supplementation helped normalize blood pressure, improve glucose tolerance (giving you normal blood sugar levels), reduce inflammation and improve liver function in rats fed a high-fat diet. These changes clearly suggest that peperine reduces symptoms of human metabolic syndrome by helping the body to remove toxins and reduce inflammation. (11)
9. Serves as an Appetite Stimulant
Research shows that olfactory stimulation using black pepper essential oil, which is a strong appetite stimulant, can facilitate swallowing in people with neurological disorders. Inhalation and ingestion of black pepper oil activates the insular or orbitofrontal cortex, resulting in improvement of the reflexive swallowing movement.
In 2008, the effects of olfactory stimulation with black pepper oil were investigated in pediatric patients receiving long-term enteral nutrition (feeding with liquid supplements or tube feeding) due to neurological disorders. In eight out of 10 patients, black pepper oil intervention was continued for three months, and five patients showed increases in the amount of oral intake — plus black pepper treatment helped facilitate swallowing movement. (12)
10. Can Be Used as Food Preservative
Black and green pepper essential oils were used in a 2015 study in order to determine the antimicrobial activity against food spoilage when added to chicken soup. Researchers found that black pepper oil displayed antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial activity, and it successfully inhibited the growth of bacteria in chicken soup. The results of this study reveal that both green pepper and black pepper essential oils are efficient in controlling the growth of known food-spoilage microorganisms. (13)
How to Use Black Pepper Oil
Black pepper essential oil is available in some health food stores and online. A 10-milliliter bottle costs between $10 and $15. Black pepper oil can be inhaled directly from the bottle, diffused at home for a warming aroma, taken internally in small doses and applied topically.
When taking black pepper oil internally, be sure to purchase a high-quality, 100 percent pure-grade product that’s made by a trustworthy and reputable company. Because of its potent and medicinal properties, you want to use the best product you can find.
When applied topically, black pepper oil creates a warming sensation, so use small doses and dilute it with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, jojoba oil or almond oil. Use a 1:1 dilution, especially if you apply the oil to sensitive skin.
There are so many ways to use black pepper essential oil, and its uses go far beyond flavoring your food. Here are some easy ways to use black pepper oil at home:
- To increase circulation and blood flow to the muscles and nerves, add 3–5 drops of black pepper oil to a warm compress and apply to the abdomen or areas of concern.
- To ease the discomfort of constipation, diarrhea and gas, take 1–2 drops of black pepper oil internally by adding it to a smoothie, soup or savory dish. It can also be applied topically to the abdomen.
- To relieve muscle injuries and tendonitis, apply black pepper oil topically to the area of concern.
- To aid respiratory conditions, take internally or inhale the oil directly from the bottle.
- To relieve congested airways, apply 2–3 drops topically to the chest.
- To reduce cigarette cravings, diffuse black pepper oil or inhale it directly from the bottle when having a craving.
- To use it as a natural treatment for arthritis and rheumatism, apply 2–3 drops topically to the area of concern.
- To help detoxify the body, take 1–2 drops internally or apply 2–3 drops topically to the bottoms of the feet.
- To add flavor to soups, stews, baked vegetables, salads and entrees, add 1–2 drops of black pepper essential oil.
Black Pepper Essential Oil Plant Origin and Chemical Composition
Black pepper essential oil is extracted through steam distillation. The essential oil has a spicy, warm, peppery and musky aroma. It’s commonly used to aid the digestive and nervous systems — stimulating circulation and promoting emotional balance. Black pepper possesses a unique versatility that’s both energizing and warming. In addition to invigorating the senses, it can be used to enhance mental clarity, and it’s a favorite among athletes and those with active lifestyles because it has warming and energizing properties.
Black pepper essential oil is also an important health food due to its antioxidant, antimicrobial potential and gastro-protective modules. With piperine as an active ingredient, black pepper holds rich phytochemistry that also includes volatile oils, oleoresins and alkaloids. Piperine assists in cognitive brain functioning, boosts nutrient absorption and improves gastrointestinal functionality. Research has also found that the free-scavenging activity of black pepper and its active ingredients might be helpful as a chemoprotective agent and in controlling the progression of tumor growth. (14)
Archaeological evidence of pepper use goes back to at least 2000 B.C. in India. References to pepper appear in Greek and Roman texts, suggesting an ancient trade between India and the West. The Romans loved adding pepper to their food; in fact, in the oldest known cookbook in existence, 80 percent of the recipes contain the spice. Signs of an ancient pepper trade from India to Egypt have also been found, including peppercorns that had been stuffed into the nostrils of Ramses the Great when he was mummified.
Black Pepper Essential Oil Precautions
Black pepper essential oil can be a strong irritant in high doses, so dilution with a carrier oil (like coconut or jojoba oil) is recommended for topical use. It’s smart to try a patch test before applying black pepper oil to a larger area of your body. Start by applying a drop to your wrist or foot to make sure you won’t have an adverse reaction.
Final Thoughts on Black Pepper Essential Oil
- Black pepper essential oil has a spicy, warm, peppery and musky aroma. It’s commonly used to aid the digestive and nervous systems — stimulating circulation, promoting emotional balance, stimulating appetite and reducing cholesterol levels.
- Use black pepper essential oil to aid digestion and respiratory conditions, help detoxify the body, and add flavor to your food.
- One of the mot well-researched benefits of black pepper oil is its ability to help you quit smoking. The warming sensation black pepper oil creates in the throat and chest when inhaled has proved to help people quit smoking more easily. Black pepper oil also helps ease anxiety and nervousness when inhaled or diffused.
- If you use black pepper oil topically, dilute it with a carrier oil first because it can be a strong irritant.
Read Next: 11 Benefits of Melissa Essential Oil
If you feel like you could use some more in depth information on essential oils, Dr. Josh Axe is hosting a free webinar going over, in great detail, uses and tips for using essential oils. Click below to learn more.