Black Pepper Essential Oil: The Spicy Antioxidant That Packs a Punch
Virtually everyone has black pepper in their kitchen, no matter where on the globe they live. But did you know that this spicy little fruit (yes, peppercorns are actually fruit!) can be made into essential oil for multiple uses in home health and beauty products? Black pepper oil is versatile and plays well with other essential oils in scent products. Here’s the lowdown on an essential oil everyone should have in their oil collection.
Where Black Pepper Essential Oil Comes From Black pepper essential oil is made by steam distillation from black pepper corns, which are actually the dried fruit of the Piper nigrum plant. This species of the flowering pepper vine is native to India but is now grown throughout the world in tropical climates. Over the last decade, Vietnam has been the largest producer of black pepper, growing over one-third of the world’s crop and exporting most of it. India, Indonesia, and Brazil are other top pepper producers. While black pepper comes from the cooked or sundried unripe fruit of the Piper nigrum, green pepper is made from uncooked, unripe fruit, and white pepper is made from the seeds of ripened fruit.
Black Pepper Throughout History
Black pepper isn’t a new spice. In fact, black pepper was used by the Ancient Greeks and Romans as a seasoning, as well as by the Ancient Egyptians, who also used it in the embalming and burial process. In those historic times, black pepper was imported only from India, where it was used for thousands of years BC in cooking.
At one time, black pepper was more valuable than gold because of its rarity and its medicinal properties, in addition to its culinary uses. It was even used as a form of currency by some traders. Given the distance and the danger involved in procuring black pepper, it’s no wonder it was so treasured. Interestingly, it was the Italian monopoly on black pepper after the fall of the Roman Empire that prompted Portugal to send explorer Vasco da Gama in search of an ocean route to India in the late 15th Century.
Black pepper began to be grown throughout Southeast Asia by the 1500s, and it was frequently used in trade with China. British and Dutch colonization of Southeast Asia (after edging out Portugal) spread the use of black pepper in Europe and helped make it a household item.
Before the days of refrigeration, pepper was used with salt to help preserve foods, and its antimicrobial properties contributed to this use. Today, black pepper is the number one most traded spice on the planet. Almost all global cuisines use black pepper in some form or another.
Benefits of Black Pepper Essential Oil
Black pepper gets its punch from the chemical piperine, unlike capsaicin found in chili peppers. And it isn’t just heat that black pepper delivers; black pepper has been known for many millennia to have multiple medicinal uses. Did you know that one tablespoon of ground black pepper contains almost 20 percent of your recommended daily value of manganese, 10 percent of your daily value of iron, and nearly 15 percent of your daily value of vitamin K? Black pepper also contains calcium, phosphorus, and selenium.
The essential oil derived from black pepper is a natural antioxidant and supports the immune system. When used in topical products, like massage oil or lotions, black pepper essential oil can help your skin fight free radicals, those nasty little molecules that cause tissue damage and contribute to visible signs of premature aging. Black pepper essential oil can delay the effects of aging and even help repair damage at the cellular level.
The elements of black pepper essential oil can improve your circulation too, with its natural warming properties, and it is also an antispasmodic, meaning it relieves muscle spasms and cramps. This makes it great to use in post-workout massage oils. Because black pepper essential oil also has anti-arthritic and antirheumatic action, in addition to stimulating the body, it helps remove toxins from the blood, which makes it a must-have for gout and rheumatism sufferers.
Black pepper essential oil, as a carminative, removes gas from the stomach and intestines. It also inhibits some bacteria that cause gas in the first place. Its stimulating qualities help black pepper essential oil rev up the digestive system too by increasing acids and bile in the stomach.
All that heat in black pepper essential oil is ideal to help you increase sweating and urination. If you want to flush undesirable elements from your body, cleanse yourself from the inside out, and at the same time lower your blood pressure, black pepper essential oil, as a diaphoretic and diuretic, can help.
Black pepper essential oil can also be used in scented products, like roll-on perfumes, room mists, and diffusers, to improve the mood, stay on task, and quit bad habits.
See the next section for some ideal blends to try for your personal mental and emotional needs.
The only hard-and-fast caution in using black pepper essential oil is to keep it away from your eyes and nose, where it could irritate sensitive mucosal membranes with the same warming sensation that makes it a wonderful topical product elsewhere. Additionally, some people caution against using black pepper essential oil during pregnancy, so ask your practitioner about this is you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
Blending Black Pepper Essential Oils with Other Essential Oils
Black pepper essential oil has a slightly woody, spicy scent that is also a bit citrusy. It combines well with many different essential oils to create pleasant aromatherapy mixes:
- citrus: lime, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, orange, neroli, and bergamot
- florals: lavender, ylang ylang, and geranium
- herbs and spices: sage, clary sage, cinnamon, rosemary, clove, basil, ginger, coriander, nutmeg, marjoram, and cardamom
- other: sandalwood, tea tree, vetiver, juniper, fennel, frankincense, and myrrh
Because black pepper essential oil has that warming sensation, if you are using it in topical preparations, you will probably want to dilute it with a carrier oil. Depending on what you want to achieve with your black pepper essential oil blend, it can be energizing, relaxing, or healing.
Some great scent combinations using black pepper essential oil include:
- black pepper, lime, orange, and frankincense (motivating)
- black pepper, bergamot, white fir, and frankincense (energizing)
- black pepper, sandalwood, and clove (quitting bad habits)
- black pepper, ylang ylang, ginger, and orange (promoting a romantic environment)
- black pepper, basil, bergamot, cinnamon, and lemon (summoning inner strength)
- black pepper, lime, peppermint, rosemary, and grapefruit (staying focused on a task)
- black pepper, cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and orange (uplifting)
Using Black Pepper Essential Oil in Your Daily Health and Beauty Routine
Black pepper essential oil is such a perfect multitasker that you can use one little bottle for numerous DIY scent, health, and beauty products. And you can use it in cooking too. Here are some recipes to get you started.
Warming Oil to Soothe Aches and Pains (post-workout, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc.)
- 4 drops black pepper EO
- 4 drops roman chamomile EO
- 4 drops marjoram EO
- 2 drops lavender
- 1 oz coconut oil
- Combine your 4 drops black pepper essential oil with 4 drops Roman chamomile essential oil, 4 drops marjoram essential oil, and 2 drops lavender essential oil.
- Add essential oil mixture to 1 ounce coconut oil (or your preferred carrier oil) and blend well.
- Rub finished product onto sore areas daily, and enjoy the warming results.
- Multiply the recipe to make a larger quantity and store in a clean container.
Spicy Toothpicks to Help Quit Smoking
- Pour fractionated (liquid) coconut oil (or another food-grade oil) into a small mason jar or jelly jar, using enough oil to cover the bottom.
- Add a few drops of black pepper essential oil and a few drops of either cinnamon or clove essential oil. Mix well.
- Empty a box of unflavored wooden toothpicks into the jar so that the toothpicks sit vertically, with their ends in the oil mixture.
- Screw the lid on tightly and allow the jar to sit for a day or two, so the toothpicks take on the flavor and the aroma of the oil.
- When you get the urge to smoke, chew on a toothpick instead, carefully replacing the jar cap after each use.
- You can add the same mixture to the tips of cotton swaps and sniff a swab, instead of chewing on a toothpick, whenever you feel the need for a nicotine fix.
The Best Mashed Potatoes
- Peel, chop, and boil 5 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes until they are soft (about 20-30 minutes).
- Drain the potatoes in a colander and place in a bowl with 6 tablespoons butter.
- Add ¾ cup heavy cream.
- Mash or whip the potatoes to your desired consistency, adding milk if more liquid is needed.
- Add 2-3 drops rosemary essential oil and 1-2 drops black pepper essential oil, along with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and salt to taste.
- Stir until the oils and garlic are well blended in.
- Serve immediately while hot. (Makes about a dozen servings.)
Healthy Salad Dressing
- Mix together 3 drops lemon essential oil, 1 drop basil essential oil, and 1 drop black pepper essential oil.
- Add the oil mixture to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil.
- Add ½ teaspoon salt and 1-2 minced garlic cloves.
- Mix well and enjoy immediately over salad.
Simple Body Scrub for Gents
- 3 tbsp sea salt or Epsom salts
- 1 tbsp almond oil or avocado oil
- 1-2 drops black pepper EO
- 1-2 drops cinnamon EO
- Mix together in a small bowl 3 tablespoons sea salt (or Epsom salts), 1 tablespoon almond oil (or avocado oil), 1-2 drops black pepper essential oil, and 1-2 drops cinnamon essential oil.
- Make a paste with the above ingredients.
- Apply with circular motions in the shower to exfoliate and stimulate the skin and to massage the underlying muscle tissue. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
- Substitute table sugar for sea salt to make a facial scrub or a body scrub for more sensitive skin.
Once you experience the many helpful effects of black pepper essential oil, you’re sure to want to use it in many of your essential oil blends and homemade health and beauty products. While it may not be used as currency any more, you can still think of black pepper essential oil as liquid gold!