8 Weird Benefits of Black Pepper (That Have Nothing to Do With Cooking)

Black pepper's perks reach far beyond the spice rack. Read on for ways to use black pepper to ease congestion, brighten laundry, quit smoking, soothe pain, and more.

Keep colors bright in the laundry

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Are your favorite bright shirts becoming dull in the wash? Next time, sprinkle a teaspoon of black pepper over your clothing when it's in the washing machine before you run the load. It will keep your colors bright and also prevent colors from running. 

Soothe a wet cough

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Fight off a mucus-y cough with a cup of black pepper tea with honey, a remedy rooted in New England folk medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. The pepper stimulates circulation and mucus flow; honey is a natural cough reliever and mild antibiotic. Place 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tablespoons of honey in a cup. Fill with boiling water and steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sip.

Another unusual cough remedy: Sprinkle black pepper on a lemon wedge. Suck on the lemon for as long as you can stand for quick relief. 

Quit smoking

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A 2013 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that when nicotine users inhaled the scent of black pepper oil, their cravings were reduced. Participants reported a slight burning sensation in the throat, which mimicked the sensation they enjoyed when smoking. Researchers suggest smokers smell a drop of the oil on a cotton ball when a craving hits. 

Relieve a stuffy nose

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Pepper is a natural decongestant. It contains chemicals that irritate membranes in the nose, producing thinner mucus so your sinuses can clear out. Add about five drops of black pepper oil with a dash of eucalyptus oil (pick them up in a natural foods store) to boiling water. Smell the warm mix to unclog sinuses and soothe your nasal passages. 

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Soothe sore muscles

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Uncomfortable after a tough workout? Loosen tense muscles up by massaging them with black pepper oil. Black pepper is considered a "warming oil" because it increases circulation and heat to the area where it's applied. This will help tight muscles. Mix two drops of black pepper oil with four drops of rosemary oil. You can also add two drops of ginger oil for additional relief. Apply the oils directly to the skin, or mix with an ounce of jojoba wax or coconut oil to create a salve to use whenever your muscles are feeling tight.

Improve digestion

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A peppery meal may be easier on your gut. Black pepper aids digestion by stimulating the secretion of hydrochloric acid, a stomach acid that helps break down food, according to whfoods.org.

Add it to your skin care routine

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Black pepper has antibacterial and antioxidant properties that help promote clear skin. Pepper also naturally increases circulation, which helps to bring a gentle heat to the skin that opens pores and allows for a deeper clean. The texture of the pepper works well as an exfoliant. To banish black heads and clear skin, try this face scrub from Health magazine.

Heal a cut

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Some people swear by black pepper as a home remedy to stop small cuts and scrapes from bleeding. Pepper has antibacterial properties and also appears to makes blood coagulate, stopping bleeding. Legend has it that WWII soldiers used black pepper on the battlefield. The People's Pharmacy acknowledges that black pepper may help, but recommends applying pressure as a primary way to stop bleeding; in addition, people should always seek immediate medical attention for serious
injuries that won't stop bleeding.

Sources: whfoods.com; health.com; suzannebovenizer.com; peoplespharmacy.com; Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things; Kitchen Cures; Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

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