Black Pepper – Piper nigrum

Parts used: seed

Traditional uses: Used as an astringent, stimulant, and to season food.

 “Aromatic, stimulant, carminative; is said to possess febrifuge properties. Its action as a stimulant is specially evident on the mucous membrane of the rectum, and so is good for constipation, also on the urinary organs; externally it is a rubefacient, useful in relaxed conditions of the rectum when prolapsed; sometimes used in place of cubebs for gonorrhoea; given in combination with aperients to facilitate their action, and to prevent griping. As a gargle it is valued for relaxed uvula, paralysis of the tongue. On account of its stimulant action it aids digestion and is specially useful in atonic dyspepsia and torbid condition of the stomach. It will correct flatulence and nausea. It has also been used in vertigo, paralytic and arthritic disorders. It is sometimes added to quinine when the stomach will not respond to quinine alone. It has also been advised in diarrhoea, cholera, scarlatina, and in solution for a wash for tinea capititis. Piperine should not be combined with astringents, as it renders them inert.” ~Grieve MH 

For a gargle – “Strong cider vinegar, with salt and pepper added, is used as a gargle.” ~Randolph OMF 93

For ague – “Fanny D. Bergen observes that ‘in central Missouri one is recommended to take for ague a whole pepper-corn every morning for seven consecutive mornings.’” ~Randolph OMF 107

Used with water under bed for night sweats – “For night sweats some hillfolk put a pan of water under the bed; I have known the wife of an M.D. to do this in her own home, without the doctor’s knowledge. May Stafford Hilburn says that ‘if the case was persistent we sprinkled black pepper in the water.’” ~Randolph OMF 146

Used with ashes on a cut – “Put hickory ashes and black pepper on a cut. The black pepper sterilizes [the] wound. And the hickory ashes draw out the poison.” ~Parler FBA II 2022

To get rid of an unwelcome visitor – “To get rid of an unwelcome visitor, put pepper under the chair on which he sits.” ~Parler FBA VI 6632

To keep your husband – “To keep your husband, put snuff in every corner of every room and black pepper under the front door steps.” ~Parler FBA VII 7051


Grieve, Margaret A Modern Herbal (MH)

Moerman, Daniel E. Native American Ethnobotany (NAE)

Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)