Black pepper (Piper, U.S.P.) is the dried, unripe fruit of Piper nigrum, Linn. (N.O. Piperaceae), a climbing plant indigenous to South India, and cultivated there, as well as in the islands of the Malay Archipelago, the Malay Peninsula, Siam, etc. The plant produces a pendulous spike of sessile fruits, which is collected as soon as the lower fruits change in colour from green to red, and dried. The fruits are then separated from the stalks and graded to size for exportation. The fruits are spherical, dark brown, inferior, and about 5 millimetres in diameter. The surface is deeply and coarsely reticulately wrinkled; at the apex the remains of the sessile stigma are visible. The pericarp is thin, and contains a single seed, completely filling the cavity. A vertical section of the fruit shows a thin, narrow, dark pericarp, within which is the whitish kernel of the seed, to which the pericarp firmly adheres. The kernel consists almost entirely of perisperm, the small endosperm surrounding the minute embryo at the apex of the fruit. The odour is aromatic, and the taste pungent. The drug yields on incineration from 4 to 7 per cent. of ash. White pepper is obtained from ripe fruits by soaking them in water, or heaping them and allowing them to ferment, and, subsequently, depriving them of the outer portion of the pericarp, by rubbing between the hands or trampling with the feet. By this means, that portion of the pericarp, exterior to the fibrovascular bundles that traverse the fruit from base to apex, is removed. The fruits are then dried. White pepper is greyish-white in colour, and exhibits vertical lines (fibrovascular bundles); it contains less piperine than black pepper, and is less pungent.
Constituents.—The chief constituents of black pepper are a crystalline alkaloid, piperine (5 to 8.25 per cent.), volatile oil (1 to 2.3 per cent.), and a pungent resin called chavicin, of which little definite is known. The volatile oil (specific gravity, 0.870 to 0.900; specific rotation, -5°2' to +2°27') consists almost entirely of terpenes, amongst which l-phellandrene has been identified.
Actions and Uses.—Black pepper has in a high degree the stimulating and carminative properties of the volatile oils, causing a reflex flow of saliva, with increased secretion of gastric juice and improved appetite. Gastro-intestinal movements are augmented, with consequent eructation of gas and relief of colic. In sufficient doses, the peppers dilate the superficial vessels of the skin, causing a feeling of warmth, followed by diaphoresis and some reduction of temperature. On account of these properties they are much employed as condiments, especially in hot countries. Pepper is a diuretic, and is sometimes used in place of cubebs in gonorrhoea and urethritis, but is apt to irritate. It is also used for haemorrhoids. An oleoresin of pepper is prepared by extraction with acetone, and separation from piperine. It is suitable for use in pill form. Black pepper is used as Confectio Piperis, often with confection of senna, as a stimulating laxative in haemorrhoids, anal fissure, etc. In conjunction with opium and other carminatives it is employed as Pulvis Opii Compositus.
Dose.—3 to 6 decigrams (5 to 10 grains).
- Confectio Piperis, B.P.—CONFECTION OF PEPPER.
- Black pepper, in fine powder, 10; caraway fruit, in fine powder, 15; clarified honey, 75. Mix the powders, then add the honey gradually, and mix thoroughly. Confection of pepper is a useful carminative. It is given in combination with confection of senna for haemorrhoids and anal ulcers; also with cubebs and copaiba for its stimulant action on the mucous membrane in gonorrhoea. This confection is similar to the preparation known as Ward's Paste. Dose.—4 to 8 grammes (60 to 120 grains).
- Oleoresina Piperis, U.S.P. and B.P.C.—OLEORESIN OF PEPPER.
- This preparation should be preserved in a well-stoppered bottle. Given in pills as a carminative and gastric stimulant. Dose.—15 to 45 milligrams (1/4 to 3/4 grain)
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.