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Botanical Name: Piper nigrum
Origin: Sri Lanka / India
Production: Piper nigrum is a flowering vine that produces berries that hang off of the plant in drupes that start out green and eventually ripen to red. Black peppercorns are produced by picking the pepper berries when they are half ripe and then leaving them to ferment and dry which causes them to shrivel and become dark in color.
Qualities: Besides its culinary aspect, black pepper (piperine) is considered to have carminative, diaphoretic and diuretic qualities. Due to its antifungal and antimicrobial properties, ground pepper is often used to prevent food spoilage.
There is evidence that it can also act synergistically with other spices to enhance their medicinal potency, such as boosting blood levels of curcumin from the spice turmeric by up to 2,000%. Some suggest that the outer layer of the peppercorn stimulates the breakdown of fat cells and that black pepper may be an excellent source of manganese and vitamin K, copper, iron, chromium, and calcium.