Imagineyou’re sitting around the table with your family trying to enjoy dinner withsome friends and family. There is a sea of foods right in front of you and youhappen to grab some disappointingly under seasoned steak. What’s the firstthing you think to do? Most people would obviously grab the nearest seasonings,salt and pepper.
It’s a quick, simple fix that has been used for as long asmost of us can even remember. There is so much to just say about salt on itsown, but this paper is going to be on pepper. Black pepper in fact, is one ofthe most used seasonings there is, but would it be viable in other situations? Isthere a realistic medical solution to using black pepper in other situations,like in the medical field, that’s viable enough to replace a current practice?Black pepper is the most sought after spice. Itis a type of vine from the family piperaceae, and is used for its fruit, whichis of course the pepper, natively called Piper Nigrum.
It has been used sinceas far back as 2000 BC in ancient India. Peppercorn was a huge trade good,often seen as “black gold” and was used as money. For a few thousand years, itwas primarily used in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa, and it allcame from the India region. Moraleswrote about the findings of spice off an ancient port near the Red Sea provingthat spices were traded largely even back in Roman times in his paper The Roman and Islamic Spice Trade (Morales, 2016). Toprotect their routes, traders actually had to create amazing stories about thehardship of obtaining and producing pepper. Fun fact: most of the stories wereabout traders traveling around the world to get pepper from dragons, who guardedit.Pepperwas thought to be an uncommon and expensive item that only richer patrons couldafford, but by the time of the early Roman Empire, an open ocean crossing wasdiscovered by explorers to allow for pepper to become easier to obtain andtrade, dominating the pepper trade into Europe for over a millennium. It isactually what explorers like ChristopherColumbus, Vasco de Gama, and S ir Francis Drake were out doing.
Theywere trying to find peppercorn around the world. Pepper was so valuable it wasactually used as collateral in some situations. It is said that Alaric theVisigoth and even Attila the Hun would demand from Rome a ransom of over a tonof pepper when they sieged the city back in the 5th century (Butler2013).Peppergrew in even more popularity once more trade routes were established, coming tobe up to 70 percent of the international spice trade. As it became moreavailable, the prices dropped, and more people were able to enjoy it. Morefoods began incorporating pepper alongside native spices and herbs, whichresulted in new spice blends.
Accordingto The Agronomy And Economy Of BlackPepper, it is actually predicted that global demand will rise to around280,000 tons by 2020 and will continue to rise to 360,000 tons by 2050 (Nair 2004).Obviously, the more pepper we consume, the more likely it is that we will runout. It’s the same about everything we have on this planet, but that’s anargument for a different paper.Peppercornbegins its helpful nature before it’s even grown.
In the article “Effect of long-term Continuouscropping…” Xiong and his team of researchers found that extended periods ofcropping of black pepper will lead to a serious decline in soil ph. (Xiong,2015). What this means is that black pepper is creating a healthier soil fornot only other peppers to grow on, but other things a farmer decides to grow aswell. Xiong and his team also found that you could actually plant with 40-50%less with nitrogen based fertilizers which of course would reduce globalpollution.Though it won’t reduce pollution bya lot, considering how much pollution we have, any little bit can help. Itcould reduce the ever increasing respiratory problems, could increase lungfunction in more people, even lower the rate of aggravated asthma.
If blackpepper planted correctly could reduce pollution in any way, it could help theworld immensely, and could even get more people to try to ‘go green” andproduce healthier plants as well as reduce the pollution.Traditionally,black pepper has been used in a variety of different remedies as well as justdifferent purposes. The health benefits of black pepper include relief fromrespiratory disorders, coughs, the common cold, constipation, indigestion,anemia, impotency, muscular strains, dental disease, pyorrhea, diarrhea, andheart disease. The biggest thing pepper can help with is actually digestion, asthe taste of it causes the stomach to release hydrochloric acid, used to digestproteins, to build up before your food can even get to the stomach, reallyaiding in the digestion. It also helps prevent intestinal gas and can promotesweating and urination, which gets rid of toxins in the body. Sweating removesthe toxins and cleans out the pores of dangerous foreign bodies that could havegotten in there, and can remove extra water in your body as well. Same withurination, where it removes excess water, but also uric acid, urea, and fatstored in urine. All of this means that consuming black pepper can help you notonly lose weight, but also increase your body’s health and preventgastrointestinal conditions as well as some forms of cancer.
Black pepperinhibits the in vitro growth of TNBC cells, as well as hormone-dependent breastcancer cells, without affecting normal mammary epithelial cell growth. (Hoskin2014)Blackpepper also has a very significant impact on weight loss, skin health, andrespiratory relief and so on. The outer layer of peppercorn can help breakdownfat cells, helping you shed weight naturally. Pepper can help cure Vitiligo,which is a skin disease that causes some areas of your skin to lose pigment andjust turn white. Pepper can actually stimulate the skin to produce pigments, sothis paired with ultra violet light therapy can cure that disease and leave youwith healthier skin. In certain practices, pepper is used in tonics for coldsand coughs, and also relieves sinusitis and nasal congestion. It breaks upmucus and phlegm depositions and is a stimulant to make you cough or sneeze toget that stuff out. With the known uses and abundance, why don’t we usepepper more often? I only named a view things pepper could help, but we don’tseem to think about using it in the helpful ways we could.
From a simple coughcure to curing skin disease and even inducing weight loss, black pepper is sucha diverse plant. What would it take to convince more people to use peppercornin a healthier, more recognizable fashion? Are people even okay with the ideaof change? The first problem is that people in general just don’tlike change. No matter what situation whether they feel they have too muchuncertainty of what could happen, or if they could change themselves, or evenif they just don’t want to change, it’s hard to convince people to usesomething new. Some people believe that it could bring unneeded stress, orcause problems, and there are some who associate change with past mistakes.Just the idea of having pepper in medicine could upset a lot of people, evenwith the physical proof of it being extremely viable. It’s really just part ofhuman nature to disregard the idea of change.Here’sthe problem with that though: imagine if we weren’t ever open to the idea ofchange.
We could still have some very bad things going on in the world, and theworld quite literally wouldn’t be the same as it is today. People might nothave moved from Europe to America, we might still have slavery, women might nothave rights. With every action, there is a reaction, and we need to push for abetter world. Though black pepper is looked at as just a seasoning, it has somuch potential to be so much more than that. With all the benefits of the pepper, it can still causesome problems with a lot of people.
Like most other peppers, black pepper isstill a hot pepper, and too much consumption can lead to health problems. Ifyou consume too much it can dry your skin and cause skin irritation and rashes.For pregnant women, it could cause difficulties in breastfeeding as spices cantransfer into breast milk and cause problems with their infant latching. Peopletaking certain drugs can’t consume it, as well as people with gastrointestinaldisorders as to risk upsetting their stomach or worsen the disorder. As well asfor some of the few people who accidentally get pepper in their eye, as itwould not only burn, but may risk other problems with their sight, as blackpepper could be used as an ingredient in pepper spray. Even with the problems with black pepper could be seriousfor some people, there just aren’t that many serious issues that are associatedwith black pepper. Which of course is obvious because of how much it isactually consumed by people.
If it wasn’t safe for humans, it wouldn’t beconsidered “King of Spices”, and it wouldn’t be one of the most thriving spicesfor as long as it has. If we can just show people all of the real, factualbenefits of black pepper, maybe we can convince them to use it more inmedicine.Withall the facts laid out, it’s hard to see why black pepper isn’t used inmedicine as it can cure a number of things like serious respiratory disordersas well as colds, coughs, constipation, muscular strain and so on. It can beused as a therapeutic oil to soothe muscle pain or sore joints, and could evenbe used as a sunscreen for certain situations.
Of course, most commonly, blackpepper can be used as a spice. It is such an adaptable spice capable of curingmany aliments and should be thought of as such. With the ever increasing demandin trade, people are definitely using up the pepper faster than they can begrown with us using over 280,000 tons now and it predicted to sky rocket over360,000 tons in the next 30 years.
It’s on a serious fast track for it tobecome endangered, even if it doesn’t happen within 50 or more years, globaldemand will continue to rise to where before we know it, were going to be out.So more than anything we need to focus on conservation, as well as moremedicinal practices for black pepper. Our “King of Spices” has untappedpotential to become the most diverse spice we have. BibliographyButler, S. (2013). Off theSpice Rack: The Story of Pepper. Retrieved April 21, 2016Choochana, P.
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