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Ayurvedic Spice Cabinet: Black Pepper for Brain Function, Heart Health & Circulation
Used most commonly as a seasoning ingredient, black pepper is a ubiquitous presence in kitchens and at dinner tables. But beyond giving your dishes an extra kick of flavor, black pepper’s utility extends far beyond its seasoning powers.
Native to South and Southeast Asia, black pepper has been used in Ayurvedic tradition for hundreds of years as a healing ingredient for ailments ranging from respiratory problems to indigestion to high cholesterol and heart issues. It is extremely effective in providing quick relief for various pains and illnesses, making it a revered Ayurvedic wellness ingredient. Known to improve the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, black pepper is also a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic recipes that incorporate turmeric, such as golden milk.
In Ayurvedic tradition, it is believed that black pepper increases internal heat, providing energizing and balancing effects. Given its heating properties, black pepper increases the Pitta dosha. While the consumption of too much black pepper can cause Pittas to experience excess heat, black pepper helpfully brings both Kapha and Vata into balance, as both of these doshas benefit from warmth. Full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, black pepper serves as a potent remedy for a wide number of health problems. Read on to learn more about the benefits of this versatile ingredient.
Benefits of Black Pepper
Improves brain function
Several studies have suggested that black pepper may improve brain function. In particular, it may alleviate symptoms associated with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by offering neuroprotection and combating inflammation.
Inflammation occurs naturally as a necessary protective mechanism in which the body attempts to fight off toxins and other harmful invaders. However, when inflammation goes unchecked or the original invading toxins are not expelled, the body can develop a number of other problems, including heart disease, diabetes, irritation and swelling, indigestion and rashes. The main active ingredient in black pepper, piperine, has been shown to combat inflammation; black pepper thus serves as a potent ingredient for combating various inflammation-induced illnesses, skin redness, joint pain and more.
Alleviates respiratory ailments
Black pepper has long been used in Ayurvedic tradition as a classic remedy for conditions like colds, bronchitis, coughs and asthma. Modern research backs up this ancient wisdom: as several studies have shown, black pepper’s anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in alleviating asthma and seasonal allergies by targeting the inflammatory pathways that cause these conditions.
Combats free radical damage
In addition to its wide-ranging anti-inflammatory properties, black pepper is also full of antioxidants, making it a powerful tool for combating free radical damage. Free radical damage occurs when an excess of free radicals develops in the body, leading to ailments ranging from heart disease and cancer to premature aging and wrinkling. As research has demonstrated, the piperine in black pepper contains potent antioxidant properties that counter free radical damage, thereby enabling it to combat disease, promote anti-aging and more.
Boosts heart health
Black pepper’s powerful antioxidant properties also enable it to promote the absorption of beta-carotene, a compound that combats the cellular damage behind conditions like heart disease. In addition, several studies have shown that black pepper lowers cholesterol levels (high cholesterol levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease).
Stimulates and regulates appetiteBlack pepper strengthens the Pitta dosha, which governs metabolism, digestion and energy production. As a result, it helps to stimulate the appetite and combat digestive ailments. As long as you’re regulating your consumption, there’s no need to worry about gaining weight, either—as research has shown, black pepper helps to stimulate the breakdown of fat cells, thus enabling it to promote weight loss.
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