Black pepper and health claims: a comprehensive treatise

Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(9):875-86. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2011.571799.


For millennia, spices have been an integral part of human diets and commerce. Recently, the widespread recognition of diet-health linkages bolsters their dietary importance. The bioactive components present in them are of considerable significance owing to their therapeutic potential against various ailments. They provide physiological benefits or prevent chronic ailment in addition to the fundamental nutrition and often included in the category of functional foods. Black pepper (Piper Nigrum L.) is an important healthy food owing to its antioxidant, antimicrobial potential and gastro-protective modules. Black pepper, with piperine as an active ingredient, holds rich phytochemistry that also includes volatile oil, oleoresins, and alkaloids. More recently, cell-culture studies and animal modeling predicted the role of black pepper against number of maladies. The free-radical scavenging activity of black pepper and its active ingredients might be helpful in chemoprevention and controlling progression of tumor growth. Additionally, the key alkaloid components of Piper Nigrum, that is, piperine assist in cognitive brain functioning, boost nutrient's absorption and improve gastrointestinal functionality. In this comprehensive treatise, efforts are made to elucidate the antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective, and antidepressant activities of black pepper. Moreover, the synergistic interaction of black pepper with different drugs and nutrients is the limelight of the manuscript. However, the aforementioned health-promoting benefits associated with black pepper are proven in animal modeling. Thus, there is a need to conduct controlled randomized trials in human subjects, cohort studies, and meta-analyses. Such future studies would be helpful in recommending its application in diet-based regimens to prevent various ailments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alkaloids / analysis
  • Alkaloids / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / analysis
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Benzodioxoles / analysis
  • Benzodioxoles / chemistry
  • Diet
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Food, Organic
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / analysis
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Piper nigrum / chemistry*
  • Piperidines / analysis
  • Piperidines / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / analysis
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides / chemistry
  • Spices


  • Alkaloids
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Benzodioxoles
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Phytochemicals
  • Piperidines
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polyunsaturated Alkamides
  • oleoresins
  • piperine