Black Pepper: The Warming Spark

Nov 12, 05:48 PM

by Katharine Koeppen, RA

Lately I've encountered a great many people who are overwhelmed by feelings of frustration or in a place of physical and emotional stasis. Normally energetic and fully engaged in life, they know they need to move forward, but are unable to do so. Their business projects and holiday events are piling up, yet they can't get anything done. The arrival of the fall season keeps them mired in a state of inactivity... when Nature slows down, our natural tendency is go along with Her.

One of my favorite oils to use in this situation is black pepper (Piper nigrum). Spicy, warm and invigorating, black pepper literally sparks a fire in the bodymind.

In ancient times, black pepper berries were symbolic of stamina and courage. Roman soldiers chewed them (much as South American Indians chew coca leaves) to maintain the physical strength necessary for long marches, and pepper was believed to promote courage on the battlefield. Buddhist monks used pepper to keep up their strength on pilgrimages, and to maintain focus on their destination when travelling through areas where they often came under attack. The spicy berries were used in protective amulets in various parts of ancient Europe, and in some Mediterranean societies, their value exceeded that of gold!

Piper nigrum addresses our fear of change and allows us some discernment when taking risk. It also helps quell the frustration and irritabilty we feel when we know we need to move forward, yet are hesitant to do so. This applies to physical inactivity, as well as the sensation of being emotionally or spiritually stuck.

Pepper can be helpful to those who are mentally fatigued or perpetually daydreaming the hours away. Physically, it promotes circulation of the blood and lymph, and is both decongesting and stimulating. It's an excellent essential oil to add to a fall or winter detox synergy or drybrushing blend. Black pepper not only helps banish emotional inflexibility, it brings relief to tight muscles and joints, easing physical movement. When flexibilty returns to the body, the mind often follows.

Energetically, pepper oil eliminates blocks between the solar plexus and heart chakras. It helps awaken self-protective energies, and is a good oil for those who need support and strength during major life transitions (blend with cypress and frankincense).

Black pepper is a strong oil which can irritate sensitive skin, so it is best used combined with other essential oils, rather than on its own in a carrier oil. Avoid using black pepper or related oils such as cubeb if taking traditional homeopathic remedies.

If the onset of fall brings a chill to your spirit, use this fragrant, spicy oil to welcome warmth and purpose back into your life.

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