Black pepper essential oil smells warm and spicy – similar to spice it comes from, but milder. This familiar seasoning is found in cupboards worldwide, and the oil can be used sparingly in cooking to give the same rich flavor. Black pepper essential oil is reported to have antibacterial(3-6), anti-inflammatory(7,8), antidiarrhoeal, gastroprotective, antioxidative(11) and analgesic(2), properties and has shown promise as a possible aid in smoking cessation(9). It’s been used to reduce spasms, for its pleasant stimulating and warming effect on sore muscles and joints, to aid the immune system and digestion; and of course, for its amazing flavor in cooking.
A Spicy and Delightful Digestive Aid
Stimulating to the digestive system, black pepper can help promote salivation, relieve gas, aid in the digestive process, and has exhibited antidiarrhoeal and gastroprotective properties(10,11). For digestive complaints, try diluting and applying it to your abdomen or diluting 1-4 drops in a tablespoon of honey.
Being so wonderfully delicious, the fact that black pepper can be used to improve health can easily be forgotten. But whether you remember the healthy benefits of black pepper while you’re cooking with it or not, seasoning with this oil can be a fun experience that easily sparks your creative side. The flavor of this oil is very rich -it’s also very potent- so use sparingly until you are familiar with its strength. We particularly enjoy this oil as an addition to marinades and soups, but you may find you enjoy using this oil in a wide variety of foods.
Muscle & Joint Pain
As an analgesic(2), and because of its anti-inflammatory(7,8), and warming properties, black pepper is an excellent choice for muscle and joint stiffness, spasms, and pain. It’s also a great option for those who suffer from arthritis and may assist those working through muscle and joint injuries. It only takes a few drops added to your favorite muscle rub to enjoy black pepper’s valuable and soothing effects.
Even its antibacterial properties make it a great option for a muscle rub, especially when considering how dirty and bacteria-ridden equipment can be at exercise clubs. Research suggests black pepper is active against bacteria including as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus faecalis, Gram-negative E. coli, Salmonella typhi and others(3-6). To take advantage of black pepper after a workout, just dilute it on its own, or add it to your favorite homemade blend, and apply it topically to help fight off bacteria while easing muscle discomfort and fatigue.
Valuable & Versatile
Because black pepper has so many useful properties, it can be a valuable and useful oil in many different circumstances. Results of one study suggest that black pepper essential oil, when inhaled, may significantly reduce cravings associated with smoking(9). During cold and flu season, it can be diffused to cleanse and purify the air. Many find woodsy smells such as juniper berry or sandalwood blend well with black pepper, though it also smells great with many other oils such as lavender, orange, frankincense, and rosemary. Though it’s great for smell alone, when its other uses are also considered, it is truly an amazing and versatile oil we hope you’ll love as much as we do!
General usage guidelines
Always dilute with a vegetable, seed, or nut carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, or avocado oil. See dilution guidelines. With any internal use, we recommend consulting with an aromatherapist or another naturopathic healthcare provider. Since essential oils are processed by the liver, if you have a compromised liver or liver disease, we strongly recommend working with your healthcare provider before use.
Topical: Apply 1-2 diluted drops onto the area of concern. Add 20-30 drops to 1 oz. of unscented body, skin or hair care products.
Internal: Dilute with a carrier oil or add to milk to evenly disperse essential oil. Once diluted, it can be added to the beverage or food of your choice. Add 2-3 diluted drops to a capsule and swallow. Gargle with 1-2 drops of diluted essential oil.
Aromatic: Diffuse in a room diffuser or nebulizer. Inhale from the bottle directly or add a drop to tissue and inhale. Add a drop to the palms of hands and cover nose and mouth and inhale. Add a few drops to a bowl of steaming (not boiling) water and place head with a towel over a bowl and inhale. To make air or cleaning spray, add 10-20 drops to water in a spray bottle and spritz on surfaces or in the air*. Add 5-10 drops to an essential oil inhaler; use the inhaler every 15 minutes or so to alleviate symptoms.
Culinary: Add 1-2 drops to foods, marinades, desserts, & drinks to taste. To preserve therapeutic benefits, do not add to boiling liquids.
Cleaning: To make a simple cleaning spray, add 10-20 drops to 1 oz. water in a spray bottle and spritz on surfaces or in the air*.
* Make this fresh every few weeks, because it doesn’t have preservatives in it, and water shortens the therapeutic life of the oils.
Note: For Fans of Black Pepper and Turmeric
There are many who take black pepper as a supplement to increase the anti-inflammatory efficacy of the herb turmeric. The essential oil of black pepper does not contain piperine and so will not have the same effect as pepper in its ground or whole form.
Hazards: Skin sensitization if oxidized.
Cautions: Old or oxidized oils should be avoided(1).
Our Recommendations: If pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have liver or kidney dysfunction, consult your physician before use. Avoid eyes, mucous membranes, and sensitive skin. Keep out of reach of children.
If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (If it is not already diluted, dilute with a carrier oil).
Store in a covered or dark, airtight container in the refrigerator or cool area for longest shelf life.
1). Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
2). Ou MC, Lee YF, Li CC, Wu SK (2014) The effectiveness of essential oils for patients with neck pain: a randomized controlled study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 20 (10): 771-779
3). Karsha PV, Lakshmi OB (2010) Antibacterial activity of black pepper (Piper nigrum Linn.) with special reference to its mode of action on bacteria. Indian Journal of Natural Products and Resources 1 (2): 213-215
4). Nikolaevskii V, Kononova N, Pertsovskii A, Shinarchuk I (1990) Effect of essential oils on the course of experimental atherosclerosis. Patologicheskaia Fiziologica i Eksperimental’naia Terapia 5: 52-53. Cited by Shaaban HAE, El-Ghorab
5). AH, Shibamoto T (2012) Bioactivity of essential oils and their volatile aroma components: review. Journal of Essential Oil Research 24 (2): 203-212
6). Zarringhalam M, Zaringhalam J, Shadnoush M, Safaeyan F, Tekieh E (2013) Inhibitory effect of black and red pepper and thyme extracts and essential oils on enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli and DNase activity of Staphylococcus aureus. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 12 (3): 363-369
7). Baylac S, Racine P (2003) Inhibition of 5-lipoxygenase by essential oils and other natural fragrant extracts. International Journal of Aromatherapy 13 (2/3): 138-142
8). Haze S, Sakai K, Gozu Y (2002) Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. Japanese Journal of Pharmacology 90: 247-253
9). Kitikannakorn N, Chaiyakunapruk N, Nimpitakpong P, Dilokthornsakul P, Meepoo E, Kerdpeng W (2013) An overview of the evidences of herbals for smoking cessation. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 21 (5): 557-564
10). Wiwattanarattanabut, K., Choonharuangdej, S., & Srithavaj, T. (2017). In Vitro Anti-Cariogenic Plaque Effects of Essential Oils Extracted from Culinary Herbs. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, 11(9), DC30–DC35.
11). McNamara, F. N., Randall, A., & Gunthorpe, M. J. (2005). Effects of piperine, the pungent component of black pepper, at the human vanilloid receptor (TRPV1). British Journal of Pharmacology, 144(6), 781–790.