Black pepper essential oil (Piper nigrum) is steam-distilled from the berries (peppercorn) of the Piperceae. Although black pepper itself is frequently used, the oil is not so widely known. However, it’s an oil high in monoterpenes, a chemical constituent known to have a powerful impact on the body in many ways. The aroma of black pepper is spicy, musky, warm, and peppery.
The warm, mild aroma of Black Pepper will remind you of freshly ground peppercorns combined with a soft floral scent. While you may not desire to diffuse it by itself, it can spice up your favorite diffuser blend. Black Pepper is an excellent choice to help in reducing occasional discomfort after exercise or easing achy joints that are associated with normal aging or wear and tear.
Therapeutically, black pepper oil is mostly used as a supplement for digestive and nervous system support and wellness. For this reason many people will use the oil as a flavoring in their cooking, just as you might with crushed black pepper. However, the ratios will be MUCH different. You wouldn’t use a full teaspoon of black pepper oil (yikes!!), but rather start off with a drop, to find the right amounts for your recipes.
Native to India, the black pepper plant is a climbing vine that can grow up to 10 meters high. The stem of the black pepper plant grows into a plentiful green column as the many shoots that grow from the stem begin to produce green, almond-shaped leaves. Growing next to these luscious leaves are clustered flowers and the fruit of the plant—the peppers. The peppers, or fruits, are round and can grow to be approximately 6 mm in diameter. These fruits turn from green to red and are picked at various times of their ripening stages to produce varying types of peppers. In order to produce black pepper, these tiny and rotund fruits are typically picked when they are fully grown, shiny, and green.
Chemistry of Black Pepper Essential Oil
Main Chemical Components: Caryophyllene, limonene, carene, sabinene
Black Pepper essential oil contains a high amount of natural chemicals that can support and protect the human body. Some of the most prominent chemicals are monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, which are known for their antioxidant activity when ingested. These chemicals also help support the immune system.
Oils that Blend Well with Black Pepper Essential Oil
Black Pepper essential oil blends well with Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Clove, Juniper Berry, Sandalwood, and Cedarwood essential oils for diffusion.
- Rich source of antioxidants
- Supports healthy circulation
- Aids digestion
- Enhances food flavor
- Soothes anxious feelings
Aromatically, black pepper essential oil helps people to examine things with clarity and honesty. It allows a person to take off their own facade or mask, share their true thoughts and emotions, and unblock the flow of growth in this way. It might help a person who is dealing with repressed memories or emotions, allowing them to dig deep into their past or their present experiences. It can help you uncover hidden truths or face patterns or habits with courage.
Black pepper oil is rich in certain useful minerals and vitamins too. For example, there is vitamin-A (Beta Carotene), which is very beneficial for ocular health as well as for antioxidant activity. It has vitamin-K, which is essential for maintaining proper circulatory and metabolic functions, muscles, and bones. Furthermore, it has calcium, potassium and selenium. While calcium is good for bones and potassium for regulating blood pressure, selenium is essentially required for the proper formation of bones, nails, hair follicles and teeth, as well as for proper functioning of the brain.
In Other Words It’s Really Good For:
- Cognitive support and brain health. [Dorene Petersen, Presentation: Clinical Use of Aromatherapy for Brain Health: 7 Essential Oils. August 9, 2017, New Brunswick, NJ. Alliance of International Aromatherapists 2017 Conference. AIA 2017 Conference Proceedings page 221-222.]
- Aching muscles, arthritis, chilblains, constipation, muscle cramps, poor circulation, sluggish digestion. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 56-64.]
Black Pepper Essential Oil Uses
- Ability to provide warm sensations when applied topically. This factor makes it a perfect oil to use in a relaxing massage blend. Create your own warming and soothing massage blend by combining one to two drops of Black Pepper essential oil with a carrier oil. Using Black Pepper essential oil in a massage blend not only provides warm sensations during a massage, its aromatic components also help enhance your relaxing experience.
- Improves 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.
- Helps the body kill cancer cells. 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.
- Need a good way to calm unwanted anxiety? Black Pepper essential oil is a great way to relieve anxious feelings. When used aromatically, Black Pepper essential oil can help soothe tightened emotions. To relieve yourself of anxious feelings, place a few drops of Black Pepper essential oil into a diffuser or inhale it directly to receive its aromatic benefits. Dilute 1 drop and rub over the heart center as desired for emotional support.
- Black Pepper is a powerful essential oil with amazing uses and benefits. With the right combination of essential oils, its effects can be amplified. When you combine Black Pepper essential oil with Juniper Berry oil and/or Cedarwood oil, it can help produce a calming and grounding effect on your senses and emotions, and can help you de-stress and relax.
- Contains many natural chemicals that are important in supporting natural functions of the body. Some of these chemicals include monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, which are known for their antioxidant activity when ingested. To provide your body with greater antioxidant support, put one or two drops of Black Pepper essential oil into a Veggie Capsule and take internally.
- Enjoy your favorite seasons with good health by using Black Pepper essential oil. Because Black Pepper has certain natural chemicals such as monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, it can support the immune system when needed most. To better protect your health, take one to two drops of Black Pepper essential oil in a Veggie Capsule when seasonal threats are high. 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.
- To soothe muscles and joints or to warm the skin during cold weather. Because of its warming, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, black pepper oil works to reduce muscle injuries, tendinitis, 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.
- Use to quit smoking. 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.
- Improves 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. 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.
- 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.
- Stimulates appetite. 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.
- Helps the body detoxify. 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. 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.
- Diaphoretic & Diuretic. Black pepper oil, when ingested, increases sweating and urination. Both of these properties play an important role in the removal of toxins from the body, clearing of the pores on the skin, and disinfecting the body. Sweating and urinating help eliminate extra water and fat from the body, thereby reducing weight, lowering blood pressure and making the body very relaxed. These properties are also helpful for reducing inflammation.
- Stimulates energy production. Black Pepper Oil is stimulating and is a good choice for inclusion in blends intended to help enhance alertness and stamina. Black Pepper should be avoided before bedtime. Consider massaging 1-2 drops into the soles of the feet daily, or diffusing as needed for increased energy.
Inspiration for Using Black Pepper Essential Oil
For a muscle rub: In a 5 ml roller bottle; add 5 drops Peppermint, 3 drops Clove, 5 drops Wintergreen and 3 drops Black Pepper essential oils. Top with FCO.
To summon inner strength, diffuse; 2 drops Basil, 2 drops Bergamot, 1 drop Cinnamon, 1 drop Lemon and 1 drop Black Pepper.
Blend into coconut oil or basic salve recipe to warm and promote circulation.
If taken in large quantities, it may cause uneasiness, unrest, vomiting, loose motions, irritation and inflammation of the intestines, sleeplessness, overheating, and smelling strongly of pepper. However, there is nothing serious about these symptoms. Keep pepper away from the eyes and nose, as it may cause irritation, sneezing, and burning. Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.