Pippali – this is the name of the Asian so-called long pepper (from Latin – piper longum linn). This is an exotic climbing perennial plant that can be found in the hottest regions of India as well as in central Himalayas. The fruits of the plant look like small, thin cones, which give a characteristic aroma and they have a specific intense taste.
Pippali is one of the traditional plants that are used both for preparation of exquisite culinary dishes as well as for the treatment and prophylaxis of various diseases, and also in the cosmetics industry. In Sanskrit it has many more names: vaidehi, madaghi, kana and so on.
Many people confuse pippali with other types of pepper
It is often taken for black pepper. The taste of both is really similar, but pippali is hotter and more aromatic than black pepper. Furthermore, even if they were completely interchangeable, a number of recipes are based on the combination of black pepper and pippali, as well as the ginger. And for the unique combination of these three and its healing properties we will talk later.
The peppers of the pippali plant are picked early – when they are not yet ripe and still green in color. This is because at this stage of their development their taste is most intense and they are richest in healing properties. Once harvested, the fruits are dried in the Sun until they become gray or almost black in color. Most often they remain intact, because in this way their valuable properties are preserved for a longer period of time.
This herb is known from the ancient Sanskrit Ayurvedic texts. It is believed that the pippali pepper was first mentioned in „Charaka Samhita“(IV–II B.C.) – the ancient Indian guide to a healthy and balanced way of living. Very often it has been described as a remedy for the treatment of respiratory diseases, as well as for treatment of the problems related to the intestinal flora. In the past it was even used to treat diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, tetanus and leprosy.
According to the ancient descriptions, pippali has a spicy (hot) taste, but it gets a sweet flavor if it undergoes a thermal treatment. According to the classification of Ayurveda, it is heavy, slightly oily and it has moisturizing properties. The long pepper is very powerful and it has a quick and almost immediate effect after consumption.
With regular use, the spice strengthens Pitta dosha and decreases the levels of Vata and Kapha dosha due to its heat. That is why we should not overdo it, depending on our constitution.
Nowadays, Ayurveda still uses pippali for the treatment of various diseases. The plant and in particular its fruits are widely used in the traditional Indian medicine. The modern scientific research has also shown that they have a number of beneficial properties that are useful for the treatment and prevention of colds, cough, laryngitis, bronchitis, asthma, as well as of a number of disorders of the gastrointestinal and circulatory systems, and for conditions such as immune deficiency.
Pippali is extremely effective for the treatment of various bacterial infections, especially if taken as an essential oil.
It can help even in more complicated conditions such as sinusitis. It is believed that it can cure even enlarged spleen, as well as that it protects us from cardiovascular diseases and strokes. There is data showing that many cases of hemiplegia (paralysis of one half of the body) have been positively affected by a therapy involving pippali. It is also applied for dibetes. An interesting fact is also that pippali can help us get rid of series of hiccups – if combined with sugar, sweet root and lemon.
Most commonly, the pepper is consumed in the form of a milky potion for the treatment of respiratory diseases. It can be fried with some purified butter (the so–called ghee butter) for the treatment of cough, and after it has cooled down, the mixture can be swallowed at once after shaped in a single piece. The same thing can be done with pippali powder and some honey.
The pippali pepper also has anti-inflammatory properties, it is also very useful for muscle spasms, allergies, as well as for parasites. It can relieve even a sharp toothache. For this purpose, add some salt and a few drops of water to some pippali powder, and smear the painful area with the mixture.
Long pepper is a key ingredient in a number of recipes in the Ayurvedic medicine. It is emblematic for the so-called Sitopaladi Churna – a healing powder of 8 parts tabasheer, 4 pars pippali, 2 parts cardamom and 1 part cinnamon. The sitopaladi powder is very useful against bronchitis and other respiratory complications, as well as for the normal colds you can consume crushed pippali pepper. You can combine it with some honey or hot water to facilitate its intake.
For gastrointestinal disorders such as heartburn, gastritis, gastroesophageal reflux, etc., and kidney and urinary problems such as nephritis, uremia, kidney stones and so on, avipattikar churna helps a lot – also a powdered substance that contains long pepper.
The other ingredients of this Ayurvedic medicine include turpeth (another plant commonly used in Ayurveda because of its strong healing properties), cloves, sugar and other herbs. Avipattikar can also be consumed with milk, warm water or honey and has a strong antioxidant effect.
Pippali is also used for the preparation of the churna called trikatu, which literally means „three types of pepper“
Its composition includes also the close relative of pippali – the black pepper as well as ginger. This herbal elixir can be called almost magical because of its wide range of action and its high degree of efficacy. It helps for flue and colds, reduces swellings in the body and heals digestive problems. In addition, trikatu acts as an antioxidant and rejuvenates the agni (the fiery) energy within us. It is also applied as an accompanying therapy to facilitate the absorption of other foods and medications in the body.
It is also possible to use a more intense variation of trikatu that includes nutmeg, coriander and ajowan or anise. All these herbs together with the three types of pepper, are taken in equal parts and then they are grounded, and finally stored mixed in glass jars. In addition to eliminating toxins, this improved version of trikatu supports expectoration and improves the general state of the Kapha and Vata energies in the organism.
Another variety of trikatu includes less amount of pippali and more of bibhitaka plant (from Latin – Terminalia Bellerica; also called bahera) – this Ayurvedic medicine heals permanent respiratory problems such as chronic cough.
In addition, the active ingredient of the pippali pepper – the piperine, can counteract chemical damage of the liver because it has the potential to protect the liver and limit its fibrosis, as well as to improve its regeneration. Long-term consumption of supplements and dishes with high content of pippali are a great choice for a nutritional supplement when we want to clean the accumulated toxins from our liver. A series of therapies with pippali, combined with an adequate yoga program can be especially very useful for the therapy and stimulation of the regenerative abilities of our liver.
In its powdered state, the pippali pepper is also widely used in Ayurvedic culinary recipes. It could be used as a substitute for black pepper or white pepper in any dish, but this is not always a good idea, because very often the intent of the dishes in Ayurveda is to contain two, three or more types of pepper as well as ginger, which has similar effects on the doshas as the different types of pepper.
In India pippali is often added to the brine of the traditional pickles and to most types of pickled vegetables. Its taste goes very well with the taste of the eggs and cheeses, and also it improves digestion, that is why this pepper helps us to better absorb these heavier animal products.
Pippali can also be used for the preparation of soups and various meat dishes, as well as for flavoring teas, masala, syrups, juices and even cakes, for example, it is ideal for vegan sweets. It gives a light spicy touch to the dishes and fits well with other typical herbs such as coriander, turmeric and ginger. It is important, however, to be careful not to overdo the amount of pippali we use, and to take in account the health condition of our guests to whom we offer the culinary temptations that contain pippali.
Due to its warming qualities, pippali is a great choice for the cold days, but it should not be consumed when the weather is hot or when symptoms of dehydration are present: such as intense thirst, dryness in the mouth or burning sensation in the urinary tract. This pepper should not be used as an ordinary spice, although an exotic one.
It is not recommended to people with predominant Pitta dosha, because it may take this energy out of balance. It also should not be consumed by pregnant women and during the menstruation period, as well as by babies and small children. It is also not recommended for women who are planning to have a baby soon. But it is widely used in Ayurveda as a completely safe and effective remedy that relieves colds of breastfeeding women, of course, in small amounts.
In addition, it is believed that the pippali peppersalso affects positively the reproductive system and sexual energy. Due to their warming power, the fruits of the plant act as an aphrodisiac and improve the functions of the respective organs.
Because of its antioxidant properties, the pippali pepper is also used as a rejuvenating agent. Many cosmetic lines have been created based on it, as well as a number of food supplements and potions for longevity and flawless appearance.