The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    



Description:  Natural Order, Piperaceae.  This is a perennial and climbing plant, native to Cochin China, but now cultivated in all the East India Islands, especially Java, Sumatra, and Borneo.  “Stem round, smooth, woody, articulated, swelling near the joints, branched, and from eight to twelve feet or more in length.  Leaves entire, broad-ovate, acuminate, seven-nerved, coriaceous, very smooth, and of a dark green color, and attached by strong sheath-like foot-stalks to the joints of the branches.  Flowers small, whitish, sessile, covering thickly a cylindrical spadix, and succeeded by globular berries, which are red when ripe.”  (U. S. D.)  These berries, so well known in commerce, are gathered and dried before they are fully ripened. When macerated and deprived of their outer skin by friction, they appear in market as white pepper.

This well-known spice contains a concrete and a volatile oil,  a  soft  greenish  resin,  and  a  crystalline  principle  called  piperin.   It is partly soluble in water, and wholly soluble in strong alcohol and ether.   Various articles are mixed with or substituted for it.  Of these the PIPER LONGUM, or long pepper, (its fruit being a cylinder an inch or more in length,) most nearly resembles the black pepper in action, and yields much of the piperin now in market; yet is but little employed.  The PIPER AFZELII, (Guinea pepper, or African black pepper,) is a smaller and much milder spice, and also contains piperin.

Properties and Uses:  This article is mainly used as a condiment; but has been employed as a remedy from an early period, and at one time was in much repute in intermittents.  It excites local and general circulation, and is usable in atonic conditions of the stomach, and locally in gangrene.   As its oils are considerably acrid, it can not be employed to any such advantage as capsicum; yet may be applied to some advantage in the above cases; and though now ignored for intermittents, is of use combined with antiperiodics to sustain the circulation.

At present the chief use made of it is for the procurement of piperin.   “This is obtained by treating pepper with alcohol, evaporating the tincture to the consistence of an extract, submitting the extract to the action of an alkaline solution, washing the undissolved portion with cold water, separating the liquid by nitration, treating the matter, left on the filter with alcohol, and evaporating.”  (U. S. D.)  Piperin falls as soft, white, odorless, resinous-feeling crystals, with a trace of bitterness and pungency, insoluble in water.  This article may be used in doses of from one to five grains, combined with quinine, salicine, or hydrastine, for antiperiodic purposes; and is of much service in such cases.  Small doses have been used every six hours in the second and subsequent stages of typhus, though not to much advantage; and five or more grains have been used every hour in cholera collapse.   It is best given by trituration with sugar.  The residue left after preparing piperin by the above method, contains much of the oils of this article, and appears in market as oil of black pepper.  By treating the berries with ether, proceeding as in the method for fluid extract of cubebs, and separating the piperin by expression in a fine cloth, a fluid of a greenish hue is obtained, which is an oleo-resin, and is called a fluid extract.  It is extremely acrid, and is rarely used, a single drop, in emulsion, making a dose.   Confection of black pepper  is  made by mixing two ounces of pepper and three ounces of  caraway in fifteen ounces of honey.  If regularly employed three times a day for months, it exerts a gentle stimulating influence during its passage through the lower bowels that sometimes cures indolent fistula and bleeding piles.   Dose, a drachm or more four  times a day.

 Medical Herbalism journal and    

    The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869    

Medical Herbalism Journal