Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately 5 millimetres (0.20 in) in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed. Peppercorns, and the powdered pepper derived from grinding them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper, white pepper, or green pepper. Green peppercorns are simply the immature black peppercorns. Black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, pink pepper, and red pepper are all differently preserved berries or seeds of the Piper nigrum plant.
Synonyms Bisalkaloids, black pepper oil, Brazilian black pepper, dipiperamide D, dipiperamide E, green pepper, pink pepper, Piperaceae (family), piperine, piptigrine, red pepper, white pepper, wisanine.
Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is native to India and other southeastern Asian countries. Black pepper, white pepper, green pepper, pink pepper, and red pepper are all differently preserved berries or seeds of the Piper nigrum plant. Although black pepper has been used as a spice for millennia, it has also traditionally been used in India to treat diarrhea. In the Ayurvedic tradition, a preparation called Trikatu (black pepper, long pepper, and ginger) is prescribed routinely for a variety of diseases.
The pepper plant grows best in a warm and humid climate. Berries mature and are ready for harvest in about 180 to 200 days. Black pepper is produced by sun drying the mature pepper berries for 3 - 5 days after they are separated from the spikes by threshing and white pepper by putting mature berries in clean water for 5 - 7 days, removing the outer skin and drying the seed after thorough washing.
Contra-indications: Inhalation of black pepper may cause respiratory irritation and edema (swelling). Piperine, a constituent of black pepper, may increase the bioavailability of theophylline (an agent used for asthma). Caution is advised in patients with respiratory conditions or in those taking herbs and supplements to manage asthma.
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