Black pepper – Piper nigrum, regarded as the king of all spices, is probably the oldest and also the most in-demand spice all over the world. It belongs to perennial family, twining and climbing vine native to the region of Indian Malabar Coast. This fiercely pungent seasoning is formed from its dried berries.
In early historic period, black pepper was cultivated widely in the tropical regions of South-east Asia, where it evolved into a primary item of overland commerce between Europe and India. It started to be a channel of exchange between the two. During the Middle-Ages, the Genoese and the Venetian was crowned the primary distributors, their own virtual monopoly on the trade serving to start the quest for an eastern-sea route.
The name ‘pepper’ derives from the Sanskrit term ‘pippali’ which means berry. Indigenous to India, pepper has played a key role all through the history and has become a prized spice for thousands of years. Since ancient Greece, pepper has held high-prestige that it wasn’t only used as a spice but also as a currency exchange. It was utilized to both pay tribute to the Gods and also to pay ransoms and taxes. During the fall of Rome, the invaded barbarians were privileged by being given pepper. Moreover, during Middle Ages the wealth of a person was often assessed by his stockpile of black pepper.
Black pepperis cultivated in the southern part of India since over 2000 years. It has always been very much valued worldwide.Following, Alexander the Great had fought upon Central Asian countries, and even arrived at India (4-th century B.C), new trading sea routes were being established that brought black pepper into the Western part of World for the first time. Within short span of time, pepper’s increasing popularity made it a most significant item of trade. Quickly, Arabic merchants set up a pepper monopoly and moved the spice through the spice route via the Arab-peninsular and Egypt to their Western European customers, to whom they denied any information about the exact origin of pepper.
Pepper evolved into a major spice that accelerated most of the spice trade. This not just ended in discovery of many lands, but also to the growth and development of important merchant towns in Europe and other Middle East countries. It is one of the earliest seasonings known these days.
Pepper as a medicine
Similar to all eastern seasonings, pepper was historically used both a spice and medicine as well. Black peppercorns are employed in treatment options like Siddha, Ayurveda and Unani medication in India. The Syriac Book of Medicines suggests pepper (or simply long-pepper) for such ailments as bowel irregularity, diarrhea, ear-ache, gangrene, cardiovascular disease, hernia, acid reflux, insect bites, sleeping disorders, joint pain, liver complications, sunburn, dental problems, and toothaches. Several resources from the 5th century onward also suggest pepper to help remedy eye problems, often by using salves made out of pepper applied on to the eye. But there isn’t any medical eveidence avialble at present.