Traditional Medicinal Uses of Piper Species

Traditional medicinal knowledge mainly comes from the traditional healers whose knowledge is transferred from one generation to the next generation. Traditional healers are named according to the method used for the treatment; for example, herbal healers use plants or natural products to cure the diseases, blowing healers use blowing procedure to treat the small injuries, and masseuses use massage oil or massage process to treat muscle problems. The ethno- botanical studies reveal the importance of Piper in various fields such as food industry, pharmaceutical industry and herbal industry (Manoj et al. 2004). The genus Piper is globally used as a spice and condiment, and also known worldwide for their medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic system of medicine, it has been described as Katurasam (pungent taste), Katuvipakam (conversion into pungent taste), ushmaveeryam (hot), guna (properties), vata (nature of wind energy), kapha (nature of water energy), pitta-haram (heat energy), ruksham (rough), lagu (light) and Madhura vipaka (Specific digestion), and used in various disease conditions such as Krimi (parasitic disease), shwasa (dyspnoea), Kshaya (pulmonary tuberculosis), Pliharoga (spleen disorders), Vishamajvara (intermittent fever), Arsha (piles), Urustambha (stiffness of thigh), Vatavyadhi (nervous diseases), Nidranasha (insomnia) and Grahani (dysentery). More than 30 formulations have been made, in which Panchakolchurna, Dashmula- shatpalghrita, Vasa Avaleha (Chaudhary et al. 2015a), Vyaghri haritaki Avaleha (Chaudhary et al. 2015b) Kanakabindvarishta (Shingadiya et al. 2015), Mahasudarshan churna (Rajopadhye et al. 2012) and Balachaturbhadra churna (Chaudhary et al. 2015b) are the common ones. Acharya charaka has included it in Agryaushadhi ascribed to adding it as Dipaniya Pachaniya-Anaha prasha- mananam. In Indian traditional system of medicine, the fruits of P. longum

and P. nigrum are used in respiratory tract diseases, such as cough, bronchitis and asthma. These fruits are also given in insomnia and epilepsy. They are also helpful to clear obstruction of bile duct and bladder, and used as digestive, appetizer, alterative, carminative, laxative and tonic. It is hematinic and useful in treating anemia and chronic fevers, and improving memory (Chopra and Vishawakarma 2018). It is applied locally on muscular pains and inflammation. The fruit possesses tonic, digestive, stomachic, antiseptic, emmenagogue and abortifacient properties. P. longum is given with honey in doses of 5-10g for indigestion, dyspepsia, flatulent colic, chronic bronchitis, chest affections and asthma. It is also very useful in treating enlarged spleen, gout and lumbago. The fruits of P. nigrum are used as condiment, and they act as rubefacient and disinfectant when applied externally (Martins et al. 1998). Fruit is vermifuge and used after childbirth to check post-partum hemorrhage. Besides fruits, the roots of several Piper species such as P. longum and P. umbellatum are used as stimulant, and traditionally used for curing snakebites and scorpion sting. For contraception, Ayurveda uses P. longum combined with Embeliaribes and borax as pippaliyadi yoga (Balasinor et al. 2007). A formulation containing a mixture of long pepper root (P. longum), black pepper (P. nigrum) and ginger (Z. officinale) in equal parts in several formulations is prescribed as remedy for treatment of catarrh and hoarseness. The stem of P. chaba is used to alleviate post-delivery pains in mothers, the root is used to treat asthma and bronchitis, the fruits, which are carminative and stimulant, are used to treat asthma, bronchitis, inflammation and haemorrhoids (Taufiq-Ur-Rahman et al. 2005). Traditionally, Piper species are boiled in combination with ginger, mustard oil, buttermilk and curd to be used as a liniment for sciatica and paralysis. According to Balsubramanian et al. (2007), the Piper species act as an appetizer, aphrodisiac, expectorant and rejuvenator, and purgative, antiasthmatic, stomachic and antipyretic agent. Besides, most of the Piper species are helpful in curing skin diseases, polyuria, abdominal lump, piles, splenomegaly, colic and rheumatoid arthritis (Anonymous 2005). A fermented decoction called Pippali arista used for the treatment of asthma, cough, anorexia and piles is made from long pepper (P. longum), lodhra (S. racemosa), black pepper (P. nigrum), grapes (Vitis vinifera) and Cissampelos pareira. A combination of fruit powder of black pepper and long pepper is used in the treatment of coma and drowsiness. Traditionally, the fruit of long pepper and the flowers of Calotropis gigantea are used for curing asthma. A decoction made from fruits of P. longum and Adhatoda vasica is used for getting relief from cough. A paste made from long pepper and neem leaves (Azadiracta indica) is mixed with cow’s milk and ginger essential oil and applied on the scalp to prevent hair loss. Few ethnobotanical applications of traditionally used Piper species in India are described in Table 1.3.

TABLE 1.3 Ethno-botanical Applications of Piper Species by Indigenous Tribal Communities in India







P. argyrophyllum

Seed, leaves, fruits

Fresh leaves and fruits are crushed and directly applied on forehead



Muthuvan tribe (Kerala)

Jose (2013)

P attenuatum


Fresh leaves are crushed to extract juice and taken orally to cure disease.



Adi tribe (Arunachal Pradesh)

Jeyaprakash etal. (2017).

P longum

Fruits, root

Fruits are powdered mixed with jaggery and ginger powder, and then the powder is boiled in water and taken thrice daily before food to cure disease.



Jaintia tribe (Northeast India)

Sajem and Gosai (2006).

P. mullesua


Powdered fruits are mixed with honey, and taken orally to cure disease.

Rheumatis, cough and bronchitis problems

Apatami, Mongpa, Sinpho, Padam and lldu tribes (Arunachal Pradesh)

Khongsai et al. (2011)

P nigrum


Decoction from the seeds and leaves are used




Tagin, Hill Miri (now Nyshi) and Galo tribes (Arunachal Pradesh)

Murtem and Chaudhry (2016)

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