Pepper is a semitropical climbing shrub from India, where most oil and peppercorns for seasoning are produced. Some also comes from Indonesia and the Orient.
Extraction: Distilled from partially dried, unripe fruit. The scent is spicy, sharp and slightly herbaceous. An oil with a more fruity fragrance is also produced from the fresh green fruit.
Medicinal Action: Treats food poisoning, indigestion, colds, flu, urinary-tract infections, congested lungs, fevers and poor circulation.
Cosmetic/Skin Use: On the skin, a warming liniment.
Emotional Attribute: The fragrance is emotionally stimulating and, some say, aphrodisiac.
Considerations: Although nontoxic, black pepper can irritate skin.
Litsea (Litsea cubeba) –Litsea oil is distilled from small, pepperlike fruits of this member of the laurel family from India and Southeast Asia. In the East, the flowers flavor tea. This relaxant treats indigestion, excessive perspiration and acne. Often called “tropical verbena,” litsea is actually unrelated to verbena.
Cubeb (Piper cubeba) –A litsea substitute.
California Pepper Tree (Schinus moule) –This South American tree is a popular ornamental in California. Used to replace pepper in cooking during World War II, it sometimes also replaces it in perfumery and flavoring. South Americans use the berries medicinally.
Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) –Steam-distilled from oleoresin or resinoid, mastic is very astringent and helpful for hemorrhoids. As a balm, this was an ancient trade item, closely related to the Biblical terebinth.