February 23rd, 2021
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
Pepper is so common in kitchens today that it’s easy to take for granted, but this savory and spicy seasoning adds not only a powerful kick to your meals but also an impressive boost to your health.
Black pepper (Piper Nigrum L.) is native only to Kerala, India, and ancient trade is thought to have occurred between India and the West, with references to black pepper appearing in Greek and Roman texts.1 The spice trade was a highly profitable business in the ancient world, and pepper was so in demand that traders could set their prices, leading to the spice becoming a luxury item reserved for the rich.
Even today, the Dutch term “peperduur,” which means as expensive as pepper, is used to describe anything that’s extremely expensive.2 Eventually, more trade routes were established, leading pepper to make up 70% of the international spice trade.
As it became more widely available, prices dropped and it became a mainstay in cuisines throughout the world and is featured in popular spice blends such as India’s garam masala, Morocco’s ras el hanout, France’s quatre épices and Cajun and jerk blends.3
Traditionally, pepper was used as a carminative agent to help relieve gas as well as to stimulate gastric secretions.4 This “king of spices” was also valued for gastrointestinal purposes, including to relieve vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Emerging research hints that its health benefits extend far beyond this, however.
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