Pepper is one of the widely consumed spices in the world hence it has gained the name “the king of spices”. It has become popular as it is a must in many of the delicious recipes make world wide .Pepper’s importance is because of the active compound piperine which has caused for number of health benefits as well.
Why pepper is so important
To be the king of spices Pepper contains piperine which is the major active compound present in this spice.That is causative agent for many of the therapeutic properties and the pungent taste of this spice.
Piperine associated one particular matter is the poor water solubility.Even though many applications exist regarding piperine still many are yet to come. Extraction of piperine to more soluble means may be helpful to increase the bio availability of this compound than ever.
The characteristic pungency of the spice is because of the piperine and the fragrance is because of the volatile compounds. There the amount of piperine and the volatile compounds present in the pepper differ from many reasons. The variety and climatic condition where they grow etc. Any way more these compounds are higher the demand for them.
When looking at the chemistry of piperine, this is an alkaloid isolated by Hans Christian Ørsted in 1819. The isolated compound, piperine was a yellow color crystal and melting point was little higher (128-130 Celsius). Piperine is a weak compound. It gets disassociated easily upon an acid or a base in to piperidine and piperic acid.
Here you see the piperine chemical structure which makes pepper as the king of spice
Therapeutic properties of black pepper
Everybody agrees that pepper is inevitable in a delicious foods recipe. We may be only thinking about the taste it gives. Other than the taste it gives, see the benefits it offers.
Black pepper is a good antioxidant
The researches done regarding the antioxidant activity of pepper reveals that it has the capability to reduce thiobarbituric acid‐reactive substances and maintain superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione‐S‐transferase, and glutathione levels in the human body.
It also has the ability to decrease high‐fat‐diet‐induced oxidative stress in the cells.
Another research shows Piperine has liver‐protective activity due to its antioxidant activity. It has shown that piperine reduces both in vitro and in vivo lipid peroxidation. Because of that it prevents the decrease of glutathione (GSH) and total thiols.
The major active compound of pepper, piperine shows its ability to increase the activity of bio transformation enzymes in the liver. There by shows the chemo protective properties as per another research
Piperine shows anti cancer and anti tumor properties.
Anti tumor activity of piperine is because of immuno modulatory properties. Including the activation of cellular and humoral immune responses (research)
Another research shows that piperine decreased lung metastasis induced by B16F‐10 melanoma cells by the activation of antioxidative protection enzymes and modulating lipid peroxidation
Research reports have shown that in a nude mice model xenotransplanted with prostate cancer cells. There piperine treatment remarkably decreased androgen‐dependent and ‐independent tumor growth.
Pretreatment with piperine increased sensitization of HER2− overexpressing breast cancer cells to paclitaxel‐induced growth inhibition and apoptosis (research)
Anti inflammatory properties of pepper
Inflammation is the response of living tissues towards an injury accumulating plasmatic fluid and blood cells in a particular point. It is a kind of defense mechanism in higher organisms to be safe from injuries and infections.
Anti inflammatory substances are very much effective in therapeutic treatment of inflammation – mediated diseases.
Piperine and the extracts of pepper in to ethanol, hexane have shown that they have the ability to reduce inflammations.(research)
Many research models have shown the anti inflammatory properties of pepper specially in rat models(research)
Asthma is an inflammatory disease because of irregular immune responses in the airway mucosa. That shows symptoms such as inflammation in the airway. Extreme airway mucus production because of goblet cell hyperplasia, and an increase in the thickness of the airway wall.
Piperine has shown deep inhibitory effects on airway inflammation in a murine model of asthma. That is due to suppression of The cytokines (IL‐4, IL‐5, IL‐13), immunoglobulin E, eosinophil CCR3 expression, and by enhanced TGF‐b gene expression in the lungs. Therefore it shows possible uses as a immunomodulator by downregulating Th2 cytokines (research)
Bio availability enhancer
The meaning of this term is like this. These compounds are facilitators to the drugs. They can combine with drugs and then increase the activity of the drug molecule. This causes the availability of that particular drug through the membrane .
Surprisingly , piperine has this miracle power to act as a bio availability enhancer for many drugs.
The absorption of piperine across the intestinal barrier is very fast.
Research shows that piperine has a passive diffusion mechanism, a high apparent permeability coefficient, and short clearance time
Piperine shows the permeation through the epithelial barrier. Because it can induce changes in membrane dynamics and permeation features. This is along with induction in the combination of proteins related to the cytoskeletal function. That increases the absorptive surface of the small intestine .(research)
Experiments show that piperine improves the bio availability of β‐lactam antibiotics such as cefotaxime sodium, amoxicillin (research). And also ampicillin and other types of antibiotics like norfloxacin (research)
Piperine also increases the bio availability of herbal and conventional drugs such as resveratrol and curcumin (research)
Curcumin with piperine‐loaded cubosome nanoparticles also improved the oral bioavailability and tissue distribution of curcumin (research)
These are a few researches about piperine’s bio availability enhancing properties. Many researches are there about bio availability enhancing of drugs.
It is about pepper
When considering the black pepper plant, this is a perennial tropical shrub type plant native to India. Other than India, this wonderful spice has been growing very well in Sri Lanka. To be frank how nicely this has been growing in Sri lanka, the pepper grows in Sri Lanka has a higher demand compared to pepper from other countries. As the experts believe world’s finest cinnamon is ceylon cinnamon no doubt the same reputation is with the black pepper as well.
This is one of my well-grown pepper bush that i planted nearly three years ago. You see the dark green mature leaves with new immature light green leaves. With the onset of rain, new leaves appear from the apex of the branches and just behind every leaf new pods occur.
This light green thread like pepper pod has not yet started making seeds. If you closely look at it, you will find little ups and downs on its surface. These are the places where tiny pepper flowers occur. The major duty is up to little insects, ants who act as pollinators. After the little green, round pepper fruit occurs.
My pepper harvest
When that green thread like pepper pod occurs in the vine, there it was another set of harvest in the bush.
There we can get to know the right maturity stage when one or two fruits start to ripen. That is the right maturity stage for the harvest.
The fully ripen pepper fruit is a very round & with red color fruit flesh coated one which may occur 40-50 little seeds in one thread.
The outer seed coating which we see as the red color fruit flesh is sweet in taste. It is not actually a large piece of fruit to taste but i needed to convey you that the flesh is sweet and not having a pungent taste like seed possesses.
The most important plant segment is the pepper seed. That is inside of the green or red color coating. If we dry pepper with the seed coating, there we can have black pepper and if the seed coating is no more there, that is green pepper.
Pepper plant support and ideal growing
Typically we can practice the pepper vine to climb along a concrete support but it is bit expensive. So, the biological supports such like gliricedia are there which people use most often. What i have used for sending the vine is also the gliricedia. Another advantage of using gliricedia is the leaves of the plant is a rich source of nitrogen. So farmers cut the partial branches of gliricedia plant and put the leaves at the base of pepper plant.
This is a simple overview how the pepper cultivation is happening in Sri lanka. Pepper is a good inter cropping plant in coconut cultivation. Since pepper does not need much sun light, it prefers wet and partial shadow, this is an ideal plant to grow with coconut too.
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