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Long pepper is the dried fruit obtained from a thin, aromatic plant called the piper longum. The fruit looks similar to a finger with spikes all over it. It belongs to the family of Piperaceae. Long pepper has properties very similar to black pepper, except long pepper is hotter. A simple way to add this to the diet is to replace black pepper with long pepper.

Long pepper is a climbing plant that grows well in a tropical climate. The strong fragrance of long pepper is due to the presence of specific essential oils in its seeds and leaves.

Long pepper can be used either in the fresh form or it is dried under to sun to make ground pepper. Unripe long pepper is believed to be more beneficial than the ripe fruit but it is more commonly stored in its dry form. This is because the powdered form of long pepper lasts longer. However, once long pepper is dried and ground, it is usually not as pungent as the wet long pepper. So, fresh long pepper is used to give that spicy kick to various dishes. One can simply cut them in small pieces and add them to the dishes. Dry long pepper is generally ground and stored in an airtight container for future use.

The dried fruit is usually used in Indian cuisine as a spice. Yummy soups can be prepared by adding a dash of long pepper to it. It is widely used to prepare spicy vegetable pickles.

But,  long pepper is not confined to your kitchen pantries  It has been in use for various medicinal purposes in the traditional medicine. The fruit, as well as the root of the Piper longum plant, are known for their many health benefits. It is used to treat muscular pains, inflammation, and cancer. Long pepper contains piperine in it, which helps in fighting parasites and various other infectious agents. Long pepper has any application in ayurveda but most importantly it is used as a Rasayana to treat various respiratory disorders. Long pepper is used as a ‘Rasayana” to cure respiratory disorders is one of them.

Some basic facts of Long Pepper:

  • Scientific Name: Piper Longum
  • Family: Piperaceae
  • Common name: Long pepper, Indian long pepper, Pippali in Hindi
  • Sanskrit name: पिप्पली Pippali, मनोहरी Manohari
  • Parts used: Fruit
  • Native region and Geographical Distribution: Long Pepper is known to have its origin in the South Asian region. The plant is broadly distributed across many parts of North India, ranging from Central Himalayas to Assam, Western Ghats, Nicobar Islands, Uttar Pradesh, and Nepal. 
  1. Long pepper health benefits
  2. Long pepper side effects
  3. Takeaway

Long pepper has antimicrobial properties

Several studies suggest the antimicrobial action of long pepper. Extracts from long pepper has been found to possess antimicrobial activities against various microorganisms including common infectious bacteria like Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhi. Also, it has been found to be efficient in inhibiting the growth of some drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus, which is the causative agent of problems like cellulitis and toxic shock syndrome. Another study suggests that the antimicrobial action of long pepper is more pronounced in a particular category of bacteria (gram-positive), while it is moderately seen in gram-negative bacteria.

Other benefits of long pepper

  • Long pepper is used for treating diseases like leprosy and anemia.
  • It possesses antitubercular activity which means it can be used for the treatment of tuberculosis.
  • Long pepper helps in improving memory power.
  • It may be used for treating snake or scorpion bite

Long pepper for respiratory problems

Pippali is well known for its benefits against various respiratory infections like bronchitis, asthma, and cough. Pipli powder, when taken with milk is considered an excellent home remedy for relieving common respiratory ailment. It is suggested in a preclinical study that a certain kind of pippali, chhoti pippali to be exact,  can be used to treat bronchial asthma as it has anti-inflammatory properties in it.  At least two different clinical studies report that long pepper consumption can significantly decrease the severity and duration and asthma. However, it is no way a substitute for medicine.

Long pepper for gastrointestinal tract

Long pepper has numerous benefits for the gastrointestinal health. In vivo (animal-based) studies suggest that long pepper is useful for relieving diarrhoea symptoms. .A preclinical study suggested that long pepper helped in treating diarrhoea as they possessed antidiarrhoeal properties.

The extracts from Long pepper fruit also revealed anti-amoebic activity. This means that adding pepper to your food may help you ward off amoebiasis, a disease caused by consumption of contaminated food or water. Inflammatory bowel disease is a condition characterized by a chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract. A recent study confirmed that the piperine present in long pepper can efficiently reduce intestinal inflammation associated with this disease.

Long pepper for blood pressure

High blood pressure is a condition wherein the blood constantly pushes against the blood vessel walls with a high force. It remains one of the primary causes of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack, stroke, etc. Long pepper is one of the major components of Trikatu, an ayurvedic formulation which is used for the treatment of high blood pressure. has long pepper as one of its primary components.

An animal study confirmed that extracts of long pepper may help in reducing blood pressure  As per this study, pippali extract was seen to mediate a hypotensive  effect by inhibiting the entry of calcium in the inner lining of the blood vessels which in turn leads to vasodilation (dilation of blood vessels). 

Long pepper for weight loss

Pippali could be the perfect food of choice if you are trying to lose those few extra pounds. It is not a magic medicine for losing  weight, but like every other pepper, it helps burn fat. The best part is that unlike some commercial supplements, long pepper does not have any side effects.. An animal study suggests that long pepper can be used for reducing body weight. It was further suggested that pippali helped not only to reduce the excessive fats  but also helped maintain the the lipid levels in the body. 

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Long pepper for diabetes

Diabetes is probably one of the worst conditions that can hit someone because it creates havoc in almost every system in the body. Out of over 62 million diabetics in the world, India has one of the highest number of diabetes cases. Most commercial drugs don’t come without side effects. So it is high time that a natural cure for this deadly disease is found. A preclinical study suggested that extracts of pippali root are advantageous for diabetics as it can significantly bring down blood glucose levels. According to a recent study, diabetic complications caused due to oxidative stress can also be minimized by pippali.

Long pepper for arthritis

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease which causes severe joint pain and can affect mobility and disrupt the quality of life. This may be eased with the consumption of pippali. An animal study was conducted to determine the anti-inflammatory properties and antiarthritic effects of long pepper. The study demonstrated that piperine has the ability to reduce inflammation in ankle joints. Long pepper is widely used as an anti-inflammatory agent in ayurvedic medicine. As a traditional medicine, it has been known to play an important role in arthritis treatment, especially rheumatoid arthritis Preclinical studies confirm this traditional use. According to an in vivo study, the anti-inflammatory effects of piperine are useful for alleviating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. A clinical study was conducted on 73 patients who had symptoms of Amavata or in common language rheumatoid arthritis. For 15 days, these patients were given Vardhamana Pippali Rasayana which is nothing but a syrup made of pippali. After the therapy, the patients experienced nearly 50% relief from the pain and other symptoms associated with this disease.

Long pepper prevents dengue

Dengue fever is one of the rapidly spreading diseases. Caused by the dengue virus, it is most common in tropical and subtropical parts of the world or in developing countries with poor sanitary and hygienic conditions. Mosquitoes are the main carriers of dengue virus. A study suggested that the ethanol extracts of pippali exhibited toxic effect against female adult mosquitoes. These properties of hot pepper may be used for killing dengue mosquitoes thereby preventing the spread of this disease.

Long pepper benefits for liver

Liver is one of the most important organs of the body. It stores a digestive liquid called bile, which helps to absorb fat from the bloodstream. Also, it removes the toxins from the blood and stores energy in the form of glycogens (a type of sugar). An overworked or sick liver is not ideal for anybody. So we need to protect the liver from ailments. A preclinical study suggested that piperine, which is the active component of long pepper, exhibited hepatoprotective properties and may help to protect against viral hepatitis. Hepatitis is a condition where there is inflammation of the liver. When left untreated, it can result in cirrhosis or liver cancer. Another study reported that long pepper can reduce the activity of certain enzymes which are responsible for liver damage and cirrhosis. Additionally, it was found to reduce bilirubin content in the liver thus reducing the risk of jaundice.

(Read more: Foods that improve liver function)

Long pepper for insomnia

Lifestyle and work stress in the modern century has lead to an imbalance in the wake-sleep patterns in almost all generations. As a result, a lot of people suffer from sleeplessness or insomnia. Ayurveda suggests that powdered pippali, added to milk along with a tablespoon of honey is a good remedy for insomnia. In vivo, studies indicate that piperlongumine is efficient in reducing stress which may help you get that much-needed sleep.

However, no clinical studies have been done so far to confirm a similar action in humans.

Long pepper for cancer

A preclinical study was undertaken to determine the anticancer properties of the alcoholic extract of the piper longum fruits. Piperine present in long pepper was confirmed as an important compound exhibiting this property. Also, the animal study confirmed that the total WBC count increased with the administration of an alcoholic extract of piper longum. According to an article published in the Indian Science Journal, US scientists have found the mechanism behind the anticancer action of long pepper. It was also reported that Piperlongumine, a chemical compound present in long pepper mediates an antitumor activity by downregulating the expression of a human gene that is usually overexpressed in tumors.

(Read more: Cancer symptoms)

  • Pepper is known to be ‘hot, so, it should be used in limited quantity The overuse of this pepper can lead to a burning sensation in the stomach. People with a weak digestive system are advised not to regularly consume long pepper.
  • Pregnant women should avoid using this spice especially during the first trimester as long pepper has antifertility activity in it.
  • Long pepper can be an irritant when applied to the skin. It is even possible to manifest an allergic reaction in some people. In some rare cases, long pepper can lead to skin inflammation with symptoms like itching, redness, and swelling. Therefore, it is advised to use it after consulting a doctor.

Long pepper is strongly beneficial for our health. When consumed in moderation, it does not pose any serious threat to the body. It is always suggested to consult a doctor before considering this as a form of a medical treatment.

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References

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