Piper longum

Piper longum

Synonyms

No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Pippali, Indian long pepper, pipal, tippali. [1]

Description

Indian Longpepper is a climbing perennial with substantial woody roots and with stems that extend over the ground. It produces a fruit that is minute, drupe and yellow-orange in color. Spikes, when ripe, are red in color and pungent. Its long, slender branches yield ovular catkins with small fruit that, when dried, resembles P. nigrum, also known as black pepper. Due to the popularity of P. longum and other peppers native to the American continents, P. longum is becoming increasingly rare.

Origin / Habitat

Piper longum is a perennial pepper plant native to the hotter climates of India. It grows most commonly from Assam to the Himalayas. It has been used in cuisine as well as traditional medicine in India for millennia. Its first mention as a medicinal herb was in the Caraka Samhita.

Chemical Constituents

The primary active constituents in Piper longum are piperine, piplartine, and piperlongumine. Piperine constitutes four to five percent of the essential oil derived from the catkins. Additional active chemicals include several piperidine alkaloids, dihydrostigmasterol, sesamim, terpenines and isobuyldeca-trans-2-trans-4-dienamide. [1]

Plant Part Used

Primarily the fruit from the catkins, root and stem. [1]

Traditional Use

In Ayurvedic medicine, Piper longum is most commonly known for its benefits in the respiratory and digestive systems. In the Caraka Samhita, one of the three ancient texts on which Ayurveda is based, Pippali is qualified as preventative in asthma. [1] Common respiratory ailments for which Pippali is traditionally considered efficacious include, but are not limited to, pharyngitis, asthma, bronchitis, cough and common cold. Most commonly, the catkins are ground into powder and taken internally. However, it being a pepper, it has been used in culinary dishes for thousands of years. Pippali is a main ingredient in an Indian dish called Tippali Rasam, which is a household remedy to stimulate respiratory health. 

Ayurvedic medicine also considers Pippali to be very useful in a variety of gastrointestinal disorders. Abdominal distention, flatulence, and constipation are all ailments that are said to be treatable by ingesting Pippali. [3] Piper longum is used in a botanical formula called Trikatu, which translates to “three pungents”. Trikatu consists of Pippali, P. nigrum and Zingiber officinale, and is used primarily to stimulate digestion. Pippali Rasayana, a concoction of Pippali and Butea monosperma, is used in Ayurveda as a remedy for giardia. [4] Pippali, alone, is also considered useful in the treatment of arthritis, sciatica [1], weakness and headache. [3] Most often called Pippali, Pippali has a rasa (taste) classified as katu (pungent). As an Ushna herb, it pacifies the Kapha and Vata doshas and stimulates the Pitta dosha as well as having a warming effect on the body. 

Dosage

500 – 1000mg per day of crude dried herb one to three times per day.

Infusion – begin with 3 peppers at one dose with honey, increasing by 3 longpeppers per day until the dosage reaches 30 per day. [2]  

Pharmacology

Pre-clinical

A 1980 study of asthma in children age 1 to 12 found P. longum to greatly reduce both the severity and frequency of asthmatic incidents. The study consisted of 240 children all suffering from asthma, taking increasing doses of the powdered fruit two to three times a day, starting at from as little as 1g per dose to a maximum of 30 g per dose. Once the maximum dosage was reached, each successive dose contained decreasing amounts of P. longum until the original dosage level was reached. The results of this treatment dramatically reduced the symptoms of asthma in nearly 80 percent of the subjects. Those of the majority found that asthmatic symptoms not only occurred less frequently, but with significantly decreased severity. A small minority of 8 percent, however, found that their symptoms were aggravated after the treatment. [5]

Clinical

Another human study tested the efficacy of an Ayurvedic treatment consisting of Piper longum and Butea monosperma, traditionally called Pippali Rasayana on the treatment of giardisis. A group of fifty giardia patients were divided into a control, placebo group and a group treated with Pippali Rasayana. The patients were treated for a period of fifteen days at a dose of 1 gram three times a day by mouth. At the completion of the treatment 92 percent of the group treated with Pippali Rasayana showed significant reduction in symptoms associated with giardisis. Additionally, the same 92 percent had a no detectable traces of the bacteria Giardia lamblia in their stool. [4] 

A 1996 study found that an ethanolic extract of Piper longum cured ninety percent of rats with an intestinal infection of Entamoeba histolyca, a common intestinal parasite. [6] Gastric ulcer has been reported to be effectively treated by piper longum in rats by increasing mucus production as well as increasing pepsin. [7] Piper longum also inhibits cell adhesion according to a 2005 study. [8] It also exhibits antioxidant activity in rats at a dosages of 250mg/kg to 500 mg/kg. The same study states that P. longum is also useful in reducing oxidative stress caused by used by adriamycin. [9] Additionally, the acidamides in P. longum have an antiplatelet effect, therefore inhibiting thrombus in rats. [10] P. longum has been shown to have antihyperlipidemic effects comparable to existing prescription drug therapy. [11]

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Safe for use in prescribed dosages.

Pregnancy

No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

References

  1. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press; 2006.
  2. Nadkarmi, KM. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay:Popular Prakashan Press;1976.
  3. Gerson, Scott. National Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine. Medicinal Plants/Ayurvedic Herbal Medicines;1997. Available from: http://www.niam.com/corp-web/medplnt.htm. [Accessed on 6 March 2009]
  4. Agarwal AK, Tripathi DM, Sahai R, Gupta N, Saxena RP, Puri A, Singh M, Misra RN, Dubey CB, Saxena KC. Management of giardiasis by a herbal drug 'Pippali Rasayana': a clinical study. J Ethnopharmacol. May1997;56(3):233-236.
  5. Fernandes A, Tavares F, Athavale VB. Asthma in children: a clinical controlled study of piper longum in asthma. Paediatr Clin India.1980;15: 45-52.
  6. Ghoshal S, Prasad BN, Lakshmi V. Antiamoebic activity of Piper longum fruits against Entamoeba histolytica in vitro and in vivo. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar1996;50(3):167-170.
  7. Agrawal AK, Rao CV, Sairam K, Joshi VK, Goel RK. Effect of Piper longum Linn, Zingiber officianalis Linn and Ferula species on gastric ulceration and secretion in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. Oct2000;38(10):994-998.
  8. Kumar S, Arya P, Mukherjee C, Singh BK, Singh N, Parmar VS, Prasad AK, Ghosh B. Novel aromatic ester from Piper longum and its analogues inhibit expression of cell adhesion molecules on endothelial cells. Biochemistry. 6Dec2005;44(48):15944-15952.
  9. Wakade AS, Shah AS, Kulkarni MP, Juvekar AR. Protective effect of Piper longum L. on oxidative stress induced injury and cellular abnormality in adriamycin induced cardiotoxicity in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. Jul2008;46(7):528-533.
  10. Park BS, Son DJ, Park YH, Kim TW, Lee SE. Antiplatelet effects of acidamides isolated from the fruits of Piper longum L. Phytomedicine. Dec2007;14(12):853-855.
  11. Jin Z, Borjihan G, Zhao R, Sun Z, Hammond GB, Uryu T. Antihyperlipidemic Compounds from the Fruit of Piper longum L. Phytother Res. 26Jan2009.