By Katrina Scampini, Certified Aromatherapist
When you think of the words “black pepper” what comes to mind? Was it a bottle of essential oil? Probably not! More likely, your mind wandered over to that humble spice that’s always unassumingly made its home in your kitchen cupboard. Nowadays, having black pepper in your spice rack seems like a no-brainer, right? But actually, it took thousands upon thousands of years for black pepper to become the common household spice it is today.
Historical records going as far back as Ancient Greece tell us it was valued highly enough to be used as currency. In India and Indonesia, the pepper was used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for its warming and revitalizing properties . Ancient traders in Southern Arabia amassed tremendous wealth built primarily off of pepper trading. They would cultivate dire warnings about dragons guarding “pepper pits” to scare off anyone thinking they could take part in this lucrative trade.
Black pepper also helped inspire the completion of ancient trade routes, such as the Silk Road. It even inadvertently led to the discovery of the Americas, as it was one of the spices Christopher Columbus sought to find new trade routes for . All this for that delicious ground up peppercorn that many of us take for granted. We sprinkle it on all our foods that need a little extra zing to taste good.
Well, it’s from that same pepper our beloved Black Pepper Essential Oil comes from!
While this essential oil might not be on your radar just yet, it will hopefully become as invaluable to you as the go-to spice in your cupboard. The essential oils are steam distilled from the peppercorn of the vigorous, woody climbing pepper vine (Piper nigrum) after they are sun-dried. It’s spicy, warm, and woody aroma will be instantly familiar to anyone who uses fresh peppercorns while cooking. This stimulating oil not only adds a bit of pep to essential oil blends but also has some very practical therapeutic uses that can help you make the most out of each day.
Soothes aches and discomfort.
Hands down, the quality most often associated with Black Pepper Essential Oil is its incredible warming capabilities. It helps soothe muscular discomfort by providing localized warmth that helps relax inflamed or spastic muscles. So whether your legs are cramping up after a long run or your neck is feeling sore from sitting at a desk all day, applying Black Pepper topically is a great way to increase circulation to a specific area and help relax tensed up muscles . It may also be helpful in relieving uncomfortable symptoms of joint pain, like those often associated with rheumatoid arthritis .
Use Black Pepper in a warm bath to help relieve feelings of discomfort and stiffness. Try adding 3 drops of Black Pepper, 2 drops of Juniper Berry, and 4 drops of Lavender to one tablespoon of unscented body wash and add to a running bath. For some added support, mix in half a cup of Epsom salt and you’re going to be feeling great in no time!
Helps settle a sour stomach.
A stomach in distress can mean all kinds of things. Maybe it’s just gas, or cramping, bloating, or unhappy bowels…but whatever it is, we want it gone. Black Pepper is known to help with a wide variety of gastrointestinal issues and can help improve the overall digestion process . It does this by stimulating the digestive system, helping to reduce spasms in the intestines and uterus, while also easing symptoms of constipation, diarrhea, and nausea .
We recommend topical application of Black Pepper to help dissolve your stomach upset—please do not ingest Black Pepper Essential Oil! Instead, add 3 drops to a teaspoon of carrier oil or lotion. Then, gently massage onto your stomach in a clockwise manner. You should notice relief soon after. Your intestines will relax, release tension, and begin to get everything moving along in the right direction! Blending a drop or two of Ginger Root CO2 or Dill Weed with Black Pepper will also provide wonderful support, just make sure to dilute accordingly.
Supports that resolution to quit smoking!
If you’ve read anything about using essential oils to help curb the habit, you’ve probably seen at least a few mentions of Black Pepper. That’s because Black Pepper Essential Oil has helped some people tremendously when it comes to their resolve to quit smoking. It has properties that support easing the tense and anxious feelings you can get when suffering from nicotine withdrawal, which consequently helps reduce cravings for cigarettes over time. Inhaling Black Pepper also stimulates respiratory tract sensations, which plays an important role in alleviating smoking-withdrawal symptoms .
Give Black Pepper the chance to take the edge off of your nerves! Use it in your convenient aromatherapy inhaler. This is a quick and convenient way for you to have it on hand. That way, you can reach for it as often as you need! This is a great opportunity to blend it with another stress relieving oil, such as Lavender, for some instant relief and calm. Or, check out our Curb the Urge Inhaler Blend for a powerful blend of essential oils that can help reduce feelings of irritability associated with withdrawal.
Aids the immune system when seasonal illness strikes.
Finally, this spicy essential oil is a great choice to bust out when you’re feeling under the weather. It helps strengthen the immune system, allowing you to get better faster ! Diffuse alongside essential oils like Eucalyptus Globulus, Bergamot, Tea Tree, and Lemon to help create a healthy and clean atmosphere in your home.
Want more ideas on ways to use your Black Pepper Essential Oil? Head on over to our Safe Essential Oil Recipes Facebook group for information and inspiration!
 Harding, J. (2008). The essential oils handbook: all the oils you will ever need for health, vitality and well-being. London: Watkins Media Ltd. pgs. 176-177
. Butler, S. (2013). Off the Spice Rack: The Story of Pepper. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/off-the-spice-rack-the-story-of-pepper
 Ou, M., Lee, Y., Li, C., & Wu, S. (2014). The effectiveness of essential oils for patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25192562
 Purchon, N., & Cantele, L. (2014). The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition. (Novato, CA: New World Library. Pg. 40-41.
 Mehmood, M. & Gilani, A. (2010). Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of black pepper and piperine in gastrointestinal disorders. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20828313