Re-blogged with permission from The Vampire Diet:
Black pepper is probably the most ubiquitous spice in the world, certainly in the United States. When was the last time you saw a salt shaker without its peppery twin?
You wouldn't expect pepper to be a healthful thing, but big surprise...it is from a plant, unprocessed, and has benefits. It hasn't been a hot topic for scientific research (pun only partially intended) but there are many traditional medicinal uses for pepper
Piperine is an akyloid in black pepper (the berry of a kind of evergreen plant) has been compared to the capsaicin in hot peppers (like jalepenos, chilis etc.). Both have anti-inflammatory properties and have been useful in arthritis for some people. It is completely counter-intuitive to my mind, but the anti-inflammatory properties are supposed to help stomach ulcers too...though I can't imagine chowing down on pepper with an upset stomach.
In aromatherapy, black pepper oil is used to promote awake-ness and mental alertness. Ingesting it is supposed to help mental focus as well. Sounds like as good as excuse as any to throw some pepper on your morning eggs.
Taste-wise, this particular spice has a strong comfort-association for me. My Grandmother (a major influence and a heckuva good cook) was a whiz at using just the right amount of black pepper to give food flavor without overdoing it. The best thing she made with black pepper was her hamburger gravy. I'm not talking about some fru-fru health food here. I'm talking about gut-filling, make a kid happy, old-fashioned, over-biscuits, I'm-hungry-as-a-newborn-vampire Southern gravy.
Although I wouldn't recommend a steady diet of hamburger gravy, with or without black pepper, this spice deserves its place at the table.