Black Pepper: A Fiery Tonic to Use Every Day

Go out to eat at any restaurant across the country, and you’ll find a salt and pepper shaker on the table. But did you know that the common black peppercorn has a bounty of medicinal properties?

Pepper in Latin is “marica,” which is one of the names for the sun, and like the sun, pepper is full of fire and light, according to its Ayurvedic profile. That means it can help stoke appetite and digestive fire, helping us to better absorb and assimilate our food. It works to process and destroy accumulated toxins, and thus can also be used as a tonic for the respiratory system, especially lung conditions that produce heavy mucus. The heating nature of pepper can also help to stimulate circulation and break fevers.

It’s easy to add pepper to your daily diet; sprinkle it over eggs, soups, salad—sky’s the limit. Need some inspiration? Try this super-easy zucchini soup.

2 large or 4 medium-size zucchini, cut into ½-inch half moons
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
¼ cup of water

In a large stockpot, warm the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent. Toss in sliced zucchini and stir until coated with oil. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Continue to sauté for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add ¼ cup of water, and cover the pot. Let the zucchini steam until soft.

Remove from heat and pour into a blender or food processor. Whirl until completely smooth. Add more salt to taste.

Lauren Gernady is the Academic Coordinator of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, and a 500-hour Kripalu Yoga teacher.

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