According to Ayurveda, there are three doshas or mind/body types. They are Vata (air and space) Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth and water). We all have a unique proportion of these three doshas within us. Everything is influenced by the doshas including our age, the time of the day and the different seasons. We are presently in the Kapha season and all of us, especially people with a lot of Kapha in their constitution, are more prone to Kapha symptoms during this Spring season. Kapha can cause lack of flow in the body and one common symptom of this imbalance is congestion. Black pepper can aid us in creating more flow and therefore decrease congestion.
Black pepper, also known as Piper nigrum, is the seed from the pepper tree fruit. This commonly found spice is indigenous to India and has many properties that can aid in our health. In the 1440’s, black pepper was an uncommon and valuable commodity. At times it was traded for silver and gold. Black pepper has warming and drying properties which are both beneficial during spring, the season when Kapha is the most likely to become out of balance. If you are experiencing congestion, try adding black pepper to ginger tea. It stimulates the circulatory and respiratory systems and acts as a decongestant which is beneficial for coughs. Black pepper strengthens the digestive system by increasing absorption and increasing enzymatic secretions. Both turmeric and curcumin are best when mixed with black pepper as it enhances the bioavailability or the proportion of a substance that enters the circulation when ingested. Black pepper is full of minerals which help to stimulate the appetite and digest toxins.
There are six tastes in all foods; Sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. In future articles, we will cover more cooling spices like coriander and fennel. Next month we will cover the ever-fashionable turmeric! I look forward to sharing the magic of another powerful spice with you.
Carla Levy C.A.S., Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist, she has helped hundreds of guests achieve greater health. She is a graduate of The California College of Ayurveda and a professional member of The National Ayurvedic Medical Association. Carla has studied with many prominent Ayurvedic Physicians in the United States and India. She is also a certified Iyengar Yoga instructor and certified Yoga therapist who has been practicing and teaching Yoga for 35 years. Carla is deeply committed to the integration of Yoga and Ayurveda to assist clients in achieving optimal health and happiness. She has a private practice in Carlsbad California: www.carlalevy.org