The dried fruit of Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) has long been used as a culinary spice and as a traditional medicine, and today it is ubiquitous in most cuisines. Black Pepper is made from the plant’s unripened green drupes (stone fruit), which are called “peppercorns.” They are briefly boiled and dried or cooked. Native to southern and southeast Asia, Black Pepper’s use in Indian cooking dates to the first century BC, and it became popular across Europe during the Roman Empire. In ancient Greece, it was so valued that it was used as currency. The active constituent called Piperine is what gives Black Pepper its pungency.
In Ayurveda, Black Pepper is a very common herb. It is traditionally considered to be a hot, pungent herb that stimulates agni, or digestive fire, by supporting the secretion of fluids in the GI tract.*
This particular species is Native to the rich woodlands of the Eastern part of the US from Massachusetts all the way west to Indiana and as far south as Missouri and Georgia. It has many common names; Snakeroot, Bugbane, Fairy Candles, Rattletop, depending on where you are. Its medicinal uses are well noted in the literature dating back to the 1800’s where you will most likely find it named, Macrotys after a group of “resins” early chemists isolated from the rhizomes. Native American tribes; including Cherokee, Algonquian, and Iroquois used the plant as an alcohol extract (“in spirits”), to support a healthy inflammatory response, to support bronchial health, to support normal levels of energy, and to support the female reproductive system during the menopausal and perimenopausal years.
The triterpine glycosides, particularly 27 deoxyacetin and acetin, are the chemicals used to standardize the most effective preparations used in published clinical trials. It is approved by the German Comission E monographs for the following applications; complaints of premenstrual, heavy menstrual cycle, or climacteric origin. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled comparative clinical trial, 80 women with climacteric symptoms received a standardized preparation of Black Cohosh, conjugated estrogens (.625 mg/day) or placebo for 12 weeks. At the end the patients receiving Black Cohosh had improved compared to both placebo and estrogen. Both physical (measured by the Kupperman index) and psychological (measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Scale) symptoms were significantly improved. More research is needed to fully understand the exact mechanism of activity