Did you know that peppercorns—the tiny dried berries we crush up to make black pepper—were, at one point in history, so valuable that they were used as a form of currency along trading routes like the historic Silk Road?
While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to start paying your bills with anything from your spice rack these days, that little factoid is a good way of gaining an appreciation for just how valued pepper was throughout our human past.
But why was it so valuable?
Even though the spice is a staple of most modern dining room tables, found in a shaker or grinder, black pepper has a long list of benefits much more interesting than simply adding a bit of flavor to your meals.
For example, did you know that black pepper can improve cognitive function?
How about that it’s a strong antibacterial?
After reading this post, it’s my goal that you’ll see black pepper, specifically in its essential oil form, as more than just a common seasoning.
You’re going to learn:
- What black pepper oil really is, where it comes from, and how it’s made
- The many benefits of black pepper oil, including recipes for a mouth-watering salad dressing, how to kick cravings with pepper flavored toothpicks, and how to make the most soothing sore muscle rub you’ve ever experienced
- Why black pepper oil diffuser recipes are awesome even though they’re uncommon (they shouldn’t be!)
- A couple of handy recipes including the most amazing 2-minute sore muscle rub
- And more!
Let’s get started:
What is Black Pepper Oil?
Black pepper is thought to have been used since at least 4,000 years ago where it may have originated in India. It was traded between there and Egypt—it was so popular in Egypt that the mummy of Ramses the Great had peppercorns in his nostrils, presumably to spare him from unpleasant smells in the afterlife.
Black pepper is a flowering vine capable of climbing up to twenty feet or more. While it’s now grown almost everywhere, botanists believe it originated in India, China, and throughout much of the rest of Asia.
These days, we mostly see it as a seasoning on our dinner tables, but it has so many more uses—especially in oil form. Even long-time essential oil fans are sometimes surprised to find that there’s a black pepper essential oil.
Black pepper essential oil is made via steam distillation. High pressure steam is filtered through the plant material (or in the case of black pepper, a vine) until the oils can be separated from the floral water.
This “uncommon” essential oil isn’t as popular as the most well known oils like lavender, sandalwood, or bergamot, but hopefully after seeing the benefits below you’ll definitely want to add it to your collection of essential oils!
The Benefits of Black Pepper Essential Oil
Black pepper essential oil can be used in the same way as many of your other essential oils:
- In your favorite diffuser
- Applied topically (to the skin)
- Ingested for internal use in small, controlled doses
Below we’ll discuss a few primary benefits of this essential oil and share a few helpful recipes to get you started on using it in your daily life—we bet you didn’t know pepper can do all this!
Let’s begin with a big one…
Aids Digestion & Maintains Healthy Cholesterol Levels (Salad Dressing Recipe)
Since black pepper oil helps stimulate the digestive system, it has been shown to cause a number of internal benefits. It has a carminative effect (it relieves gas), inhibits bacteria, and increases healthy bodily secretions (“stomach juices”).
As for maintaining your healthy cholesterol levels, check out this study for an example of the HDL-raising (“good” cholesterol) benefits.
To take advantage of these benefits, use a small amount of black pepper essential oil internally. While you could dilute and drink a couple drops in a glass of water, it probably wouldn’t taste so great – and it wouldn’t be that much fun.
Instead, why not try making this black pepper oil salad dressing:
- Mince 1-2 garlic cloves
- Add garlic cloves to ½ cup olive oil (extra virgin)
- Add a pinch of salt (½ teaspoon)
- Add to taste: 1-2 drops of black pepper essential oil, 1 drop basil essential oil, 2 drops lemon essential oil
- Mix well and apply to salad
The above recipe is quick, easy, and good for you!
Black Pepper Oil Can Be Successfully Used to Curb Cravings (Flavored Toothpick Recipe)
Trying to cut your sugar cravings back? On a diet and need a little extra help? Or worse, are you trying to quit smoking?
Take advantage of these benefits by using your diffuser (some great black pepper oil recipes can be found below) or, if you’re looking for something you can take with you anywhere, you can make flavored toothpicks to chew on whenever you have a craving for something you’re trying to kick.
Here’s how to make flavored toothpicks with black pepper essential oil. You’ll only need a few things:
- Toothpicks (unflavored, of course!)
- Coconut oil (liquified yourself or fractionated)
- Black pepper essential oil
If you don’t have fractionated coconut oil, you can carefully heat your regular coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat, just enough to get it liquified.
Pour the coconut oil into a small jar (large enough to hold toothpicks upright) and add 4-5 drops of your black pepper essential oil. You can also add a few extra drops of clove or cinnamon essential oil as well if you enjoy those flavors, but I think black pepper can hold up on its own just fine. You want enough of this mixture so that you can dip toothpicks in at least halfway.
Put the toothpicks into the mixture vertically, put the lid on, and let it sit for a few days—they’ll absorb all the flavor. The next time you have a craving, pop one in your mouth and chew it or roll it around! You might be surprised at how much relief it gives you.
Encourages Healthy Circulation (Easy Sore Muscle Rub Recipe)
Black pepper oil can encourage healthy circulation both when taken internally (such as with the salad dressing we discussed above) and, when applied topically, provides the user with a lovely warming sensation—you can’t beat it when you have sore muscles.
You can whip up a fast muscle rub with the following simple ingredients:
- 1 ounce coconut oil
- 4 drops black pepper essential oil
- 2 drops peppermint essential oil
- 2 drops lavender essential oil
Place the above in a jar or small container and mix well. The peppermint oil will add a nice cooling sensation to balance things out (with the black pepper oil it really mimics “icy hot” style store-bought rubs, minus the chemicals). I prefer to add a bit of lavender as well, just because it’s so good for you.
Black Pepper Essential Oil Diffuser Recipes
You don’t typically think of black pepper as an aromatic thing, but let me tell you – paired with the correct other essential oils, you can come up with some really amazing blends that smell very unique (in a good way, promise).
Try out some of the blends below and let me know what you think:
- 2 drops black pepper
- 2 drops bergamot
- 2 drops white fir
- 1 drop frankincense
- 3 drops black pepper
- 2 drops clove
- 2 drops sandalwood
Peppy Pepper (Energizing)
- 2 drops black pepper
- 2 drops cinnamon
- 2 drops clove
- 1 drop wild orange
Generally speaking, black pepper essential oil pairs surprisingly well with citrus oils. When paired with woodsy oils like sandalwood or white fir, you can get a really rich aroma with plenty of depth. And of course, it goes well with cinnamon and clove if you enjoy a “spicy” aroma!
Black Pepper Essential Oil Safety Precautions
You know how pepper can make you sneeze? That’s because it’s a mild irritant. In strong enough doses, black pepper essential oil can be a strong irritant. Whenever you’re applying it topically, make sure to dilute it with your favorite carrier oil. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin.
As with any new essential oil you haven’t used before, always do a small “test patch” on the back of your hand and let it sit for a while just to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions.
Since black pepper oil sensitizes the skin, you should avoid it while pregnant just to be extra safe.
Finally, if you’ve recently had abdominal surgery, you’re generally instructed to avoid too much pepper in your diet—this, of course, applies to black pepper essential oil as well.
How Will You Use Black Pepper Essential Oil?
I suspect that for many readers black pepper would be a new addition to their lineup of essential oils. If you’ve been looking for something new and different to try, black pepper essential oil is a great choice because it has plenty of benefits and you can do so much with it.
Let me know in the comments below if you plan on trying black pepper oil. If you’re already a fan, why not share one of your own DIY recipes?
Until next time!