Herbs Profile

Pippali (Piper longum)

pippali

This small shrub grows all over the tropical forests of India. It is a fine rejuvenative to the respiratory system; its sweet post-digestive effect is very nourishing to the deeper reproductive tissues of the body.

Common name Long pepper (E), Pipal (H), Pimpli (H) Sanskrit Pippalı Latin Piper longum Fructus (Piperaceae)

 

ENERGETICS

  • Rasa (taste) Pungent
  • Vırya (energy) Mildly heating not hot
  • Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet
  • Guna (quality) Oily, light, penetrating
  • Dosa effect VK−, P+
  • Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, blood, fat, nerve, reproductive
  • Srotas (channel) Circulatory, digestive, respiratory, reproductive

CONSTITUENTS

  • Volatile oil β-bisabolene, β-carophyllene
  • Alkaloids Piperine, piperlongumine, piplartine
  • Lignans Sesamin, fargesin
  • Fixed oil Esters (Williamson 2002)

AYURVEDIC ACTION

  • Dıpana Enkindles the digestive fire
  • Pa-cana Digests toxins
  • Amana-saka Destroys toxins
  • Bhedanı-ya Purgative
  • Chedana Scratches toxins from the tissues
  • Krmighna Vermifuge
  • Medohara Reduces fat tissue
  • Kusthaghna Alleviates skin diseases
  • Sva-sakasahara Benefits breathing
  • Sirovirecana Clears toxins from the head
  • Hikka nigrahan. a Alleviates hiccups
  • Jvarahara Mitigates fevers
  • Vrsya Aphrodisiac
  • Rasa-yana Rejuvenative, specifically to plasma, blood, fat and reproductive tissue
  • Medhya Improves the intellect

BIOMEDICAL ACTION

Digestive stimulant, carminative, expectorant, bronchodilator, anthelmintic, analgesic, circulatory stimulant, aphrodisiac

INDICATIONS

Lungs Primarily used for cold, wet and ‘mucousy’ conditions of the lungs. It is a ejuvenative for the lungs, pranavahasrotas and avalambaka kapha. It encourages vasodilation and therefore increases circulation, specifically to the lungs. Used with honey in asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia and compromised immunity in the respiratory system to reduce kapha. It is also used to treat mild fever by removing the ama from rasa dhatu and alleviating the concurrent aches in the muscles and joints (Frawley & Lad 1994).

Digestion Used to stimulate agni and clear weak digestion with symptoms of nausea, slow digestion, flatulence with a cold and painful abdomen. In malabsorption it can increase assimilation of nutrients. Clinical studies show that that piperine increases the absorption of curcumin in turmeric root (used at 1:10). Its anthelmintic qualities are used as part of a formula to kill worms, amoebas and parasites. It helps to treat diarrhoea from cold symptoms and constipation (vibandha) from stagnant apana vayu. Also used in diabetes as it reduces any excess of and rejuvenates the medas dhatu (Koul & Kapil 1993, Tillotson 2001).

Reproduction Its sweet postdigestive effect points to its ability to tonify the s´ukra dhatu and reproductive tissue, which is useful in infertility, impotence and premature ejaculation. It is one of the only heating and penetrating substances to do this as heating substances usually consume s´ukra dhatu (Bhavaprakasa).

Circulation Its pungency and sweetness invigorate blood and nourish rakta. By enhancing the digestive fire in the tissues it is a rasayana to rasa and rakta dhatu as it helps to assimiliate more nutrients for building the plasma and the blood. It can also help to penetrate the cold pain of sciatica (Gogte 2000).

Liver It has a hepatoprotective effect that may benefit fibrosis (Tillotson 2001).

Nerves Its ability to nourish majja dhatu, due to its sweet vipaka, helps in vata disorders and also to nourish the brain.

COMBINATIONS

* Ginger, black pepper as trikatu for low agni, kapha, ama and weak lungs.

* Haritaki, licorice, pushkaramoola for allergic rhinitis, hayfever and atopic asthma.

* Gokshura, kappikacchu and ashwagandha for male reproductive function.

* Kutki, neem, bhumiamalaki in hepatitis.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Excess pitta and inflammations of the intestines.

SAFETY

The piperine content of long pepper, when used as an isolated ingredient, has been associated with enhancing blood levels of certain medication such as propranolol, theophylline, and rifampicin, as it may inhibit drug metabolism in the liver when it is used over a long period of time at a high dose. Hence all patients taking drugs that are metabolised in the liver must be carefully monitored if long pepper is prescribed (Harkness & Bratman 2003). Other sources report that in its whole form it is a short-term bioavailability enhancer, increasing nutrient absorption, quickening absorption and reducing blood levels of medication (Williamson 2002).

DOSAGE

1–5g per day powder or 5–15ml of a 1:5 @ 60% tincture. Due to safety issues do not use at a high dose (>5g per day) for long periods of time. Low dose is safe for long-term use as attested to by the vast amount of ayurvedic formulas containing pippali.

NOTES

  • Pippali thrives in more temperate conditions than black pepper.
  • Its sweetness gives it rejuvenative properties and its oiliness make it less drying and not as excessively eating as black pepper.
  • The fresh green pippali reduces pitta and increases kapha.
  • Often boiled with milk for deficient lungs. Pippali vardhanam is a cumulative treatment where 1 long pepper is boiled in a glass of milk and water (1:1 reduced to 1) and drunk daily. 1 long pepper is added daily for 14 days (up to 14 pippali) and then reduced by the same ratio for 14 days. Excellent for asthma where there is no dairy intolerance.
  • Pippali moola, Piper longum–Radix, is also used in Ayurveda. It has similar properties as the fruit, but is a more ‘condensed’ heat. Combining it with trikatu makes chaturushna, The Four Pungents. It has the same properties as trikatu but is slightly stronger.

About the author

Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda

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