Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Pepper Bad For You?

Also Known As: black pepper, peppercorn



Short answer

Except for possibly making you sneeze, black pepper is full of health benefits. It is one condiment that is, in fact, a good addition to the pantry.



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Long answer

When people think of spiciness, it may be the chillies used liberally in Thai and Indian cuisines and its capsaicin that comes most readily to mind. However, capsaicin isn't the only spicy chemical with a host of health benefits. Enter piperine, better known as the chemical responsible for the pungency of ground peppercorns, your everyday tabletop black pepper. Piperine has several health benefits, such as helping the liver with detoxification, aiding in the treatment of vitiligo by stimulating the skin to produce pigment, and assisting in the breakdown of fat cells. 

Pepper improves digestion by alerting the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid. This improved digestion works to stave off problems such as constipation and diarrhea, as well as colic. Furthermore, a properly working digestive system reduces the risk of cancers of the colon and intestines as well as helping to rid the body of harmful LDL cholesterol. 

Like capsaicin, piperine has the ability to help relieve symptoms arising from the common cold. Black pepper is also good in combating cough and other respiratory problems. This spice, native to the Kerala region in India, has also been linked to a reduced risk of dental disease and heart disease. 

For most people, the only downside to black pepper is that it can - and often does - induce sneezing. It may also act as an intestinal irritant for those who have recently had abdominal surgery. With just 6 calories, only a trace amount of fat, and 3% of a person's daily fiber need per teaspoon, black pepper is a very healthy choice to add to any meal.

Possible short-term side effects

  • sneezing
  • may irritate intestines in people with recent abdominal surgery


  • helps prevent heart disease
  • helps prevent gum disease
  • helps regulate digestion
  • may help cure vitiligo
  • reduces risk of atherosclerosis
  • reduces ldl cholesterol levels
  • promotes liver detoxification
  • promotes weight loss
  • helps to combat cough

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Simply Organic Black Pepper

  • Medium ground texture
  • Certified Organic
  • Kosher certified
  • Potent pepper taste
  • Convenient jar form
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-28-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Jeff Volling
Published on: 02-28-2016
Last updated: 12-15-2023

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