Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is distilled from the dried crushed fruit of the vine and has a sharp, clean, spicy aroma. If I were to sum up this oil in one word it would be stimulating.
It is an oil I turn to when treating muscular-skeletal aches and pains as it is warming, a tonic for tired muscles so good to use before and after sport. It is rubefacient; when applied it reddens the skin due to the dilation of the capillaries therefore excellent for stimulating circulation and the lymphatic system. It has been used for over 4000 years in India to treat urinary and liver disorders because of it’s detoxifying nature.
It can help stimulate digestion, improving one’s appetite and aiding those with constipation. A good decongestant it helps shift catarrh brought on from colds and coughs.
It blends beautifully with citrus oils such as Lemon (Citrus limon) or Orange (Citrus sinensis), or flower oils such as Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), or a resin oil such as Frankincense (Boswellia sacra).
Due to it’s fiery nature I would avoid using it with the elderly and children, and has the potential to irritate the kidneys and sensitive skin. Avoid in pregnancy and if taking homeopathic remedies.
In my last post I talked about oils to lift your mood and one oil that does that for me is Ginger whose Latin name – Zingiber officinale – reflects it’s zinging therapeutic properties! This pungent, warm spicy oil is perfect for this time of year and I can’t promote it enough, not just as an essential oil but as food too.
Firstly, it’s spicy fragrance gives us that well needed lift of motivation, boosting will power and clearing your mind. Feeling apathetic? A sniff of Ginger will help fight lethargy and warm your nostrils.
Second, it stimulates your circulation too, warming cold hands and feet. It is a detoxifying oil, great for colds and flu so works well in a foot bath. Add up to 8 drops in a bowl and sink your feet into spicy, warm bliss.
Third, it helps joint pain such as arthritis, stiffness, muscular pain so wonderful in a warm, cleansing massage.
Finally, is good for your gut. It can settle your stomach but also stimulate an appetite. It’s wonderfully versatile. It can help with nausea, IBS, colic, motion sickness so works well in a rollerball for pulse points.
Our gut harbours trillions of microorganisms which play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system and combatting inflammation. I always have the food – ginger – in the fridge and often grate it on stir fries, or use it to marinade tofu or fish, or add it to spicy dahl. It is full of antioxidants similar to fermented foods which can have a positive impact upon gut health from olives in brine to yogurt to wine!
A good way to get ginger into your body as well as using essential oils externally (never ingest essential oils – eating the ginger root is ok, ingesting essential oils is not recommended) is to make a ginger bug. This is fermented ginger so you have the fantastic naturally occurring goodness of ginger and then your ferment it on top to make it a super-super food!
Ginger bug can be used as a base for all sorts of recipes. Here is a recipe for Ginger bug as a base for ginger beer. Or if you haven’t time to make a ginger bug recipe, here is a recipefor ginger beer (without the bug).
So, get Gingering whether it be a foot bath, a rollerball, a deep inhale from the essential oil bottle, or a recipe to warm your bones, lift your mood and prepare you for the winter months ahead.
Remember: do not use Ginger neat on the skin, if you’re on immuno-stimulant medication, or pregnant. Never ingest essential oils.