This ubiquitous spice on nearly every table in America is for more than just flavoring. Black pepper actually increases your ability to absorb nutrient. Black pepper stimulates the activity of the digestive tract by increasing the production of digestive enzymes and supporting normal gut motility. Black pepper also is a circulatory stimulant so it increases blood flow to the gut, which helps the digestive tract to work more efficiently and carries the nutrient to the rest of the body. Black pepper as a medicinal herb was traditionally used for sluggish digest and low stomach acid, but it can help nearly anyone get more out of their food and supplements. Its effects are intensified by heating so adding black pepper to your food as it cooks makes it a better digestive enhancer, but watch out too much black pepper cooked into a dish can get very spicy.
Because of these digestive benefits, black pepper extracts are used in some supplements to enhance their absorption. Piperine, an active component of black pepper sold under the name BioPerine, has been shown to increase the absorption of various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This is especially important with harder to absorb supplements like curcumin from turmeric, a popular inflammation-modulating herb. Supplement companies choose many different strategies to help get curcumin into the bloodstream, but BioPerine is one of the most popular approaches. I also mix a little bit of ground black pepper into my jar of turmeric so I know I am getting more out of my turmeric every time I cook with it.
Posted in Herbs
Tagged black pepper, cardiovascular health, circulation, detoxification, digestive health, digestive tract, food, GI Health, health, heart health, inflammation, nutrition
In our fast-paced culture, we often want fast acting health solutions, but these often don’t increase our vibrancy in the long haul. On the other hand, tonic herbs work slowly by nourishing particular organs and improving their function over time. When it comes to the heart, hawthorn places such a role. It has many different actions on the heart, and while none of them are particularly strong, these actions support each other in a synergist manner to improve the functioning of the heart with long-term use. First, it nourishes the heart. By improving the flow of blood through the coronary arteries that feed the heart, hawthorn improves the delivery of nutrient to the cardiac cells. Hawthorn also contains proanthocyanidins, red-pigmented compounds that help maintain a healthy heart and arteries, by enhancing the connective tissue structure of their linings. As a calming herb, hawthorn also nourishes the heart on an emotional level. Hawthorn is especially chosen for heart issues that are connected to heartbreak in any way.
In addition to these nourishing qualities, hawthorn gently acts to help prevent some of the most worrisome heart conditions. Hawthorn mildly reduces blood pressure, partially by increasing the dilation of blood vessels. Hawthorn also slightly reduces cholesterol and may help prevent atherosclerosis. It can also be useful for people with poor circulation and low blood pressure. This is because hawthorn can slightly improve the strength of the heart’s contractions. Multiple clinical trials have even shown that hawthorn can help ease some of the symptoms of congestive heart failure. Finally, hawthorn supports the normal rhythm of the heart. Since it does all of the actions in a gentle way, hawthorn alone is often not sufficient for serious heart issues, but because of its multiple, mutually supporting actions and nourishing qualities, hawthorn can be an important contributor to cardiovascular wellness.