89. Piper.—Pepper. Black pepper.

Botanical name: 

Fig. 56. Piper nigrum. The dried unripe fruit of Pi'per ni'grum Linné.

BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Aromatic shrub, with knotted, pointed branches Leaves alternate, entire. Flowers spicate, perfect, each supported by a scale. Berry 1-seeded.

Pepper should not yield less than 6 per cent. of non-volatile ether extract, not less than 25 per cent. of starch.

The yield of total ash should not exceed 7 per cent. The amount of ash insoluble in diluted HCl should not exceed 2 per cent.

Not more than 2 per cent. of stems and foreign matter may be included.

HABITAT.—India and Cochin-China; cultivated in the East Indies.

DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—A black, reticulated, berry-like, fruit, resembling cubebs in size and general appearance, except that it is destitute of the foot-stalk. It is hollow inside and contains a single, small, undeveloped seed. Odor aromatic and sternutatory; taste sharp, burning, and acrid.

Powder.—Characteristic elements: see Part iv, Chap. I, B.

CONSTITUENTS.—The aromatic and stimulant properties of pepper depend upon its volatile oil, C10H16, but the pungent taste and medicinal activity are mainly due to a soft, pungent resin, chavicin; a neutral principle, piperine, is also present which is decomposed by alkalies into piperidine, C5H11N, and piperic acid, C12H10O4. The latter yields piperinal (heliotropine) by oxidation.

Preparation of Piperine.—It is deposited almost pure from freshly made oleoresin; usually has pungent resin associated with it, giving it a biting taste. It is in pale yellow prismatic crystals; odorless, with sharp, bitter taste.

ACTION AND USES.—Stimulant and carminative, its principal use being as a condiment. The principle piperine has been used as an antiperiodic. Dose of pepper: 5 to 20 gr. (0.3 to 1.3 Gm.).

Oleoresina Piperis, Dose: 1/4 to 2 drops (0.016 to 0.13 mil).

Commercial oil of pepper is an oleoresin from which the piperine has crystallized out.

A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.