Piperaceae (Pepper Family); Pipereae Tribe The genus Piper includes some 1,000 to 1,200 species, many of which are ethnobotanically significant (Halzl et al. 1993, 191; Schultes and Raffauf 1990, 364*). Half of all Piper species occur in the American tropics. These include epiphytic plants, climbers, half-shrubs, and small trees. A large number of essential oils occur in the genus, so many leaves, inflorescences, and fruits are highly aromatic and have therefore attracted cultural attention. Some Piper species are said to have psychoactive, and others aphrodisiac, effects. Safrole and asarone have been identified in various species (such as Piper divaricatum Meyer, P. manassausense, P. futokadsura, and P. sarmentosum) (Avella et al. 1994). Piper abutiloides Kunth, Piper cincinnatoris Yuncker, and Piper lindbergii C. DC., which are used in Brazilian folk medicine as analgesics, are pharmacologically active (Costa et al. 1989). It has even been suggested that the common black pepper (Piper nigrum 1.) is capable of inducing hallucinogenic effects (Schultes and Hofmann 1980,368*). The so-called red pepper comes not from a Piper species but from the Peruvian pepper tree (Schinus moUe 1.; cf. Norman 1991,53*). In South America, it is used to aid in the fermentation of chicha and also as a beer additive. Piper amalago L. [syn. Piper medium Jacq.]amalago pepper The leaves of this bush, which is indigenous to Central America (southern Mexico, Belize), are smaller and narrower than those of Piper auritum, but the plant is otherwise quite similar in appearance. When rubbed, its leaves smell strongly of the essential oil safrole. It may be possible to use this pepper species for psychoactive purposes. The Maya, who call the plant yaaxpehelche', regard it as the "younger sibling" or "female" counterpart of Piper auritum.
Piper angustifolium Ruiz et Pavon-matico pepper It is not known whether this American pepper species has psychoactive effects by itself. Because of the disinfectant properties of its fresh leaves, the plant is also known as soldier's herb. Its leaves and inflorescences are an ingredient in various Aztec cacao recipes (see Theobroma cacao) and have a mild stimulating effect because of the essential oil that is present (R~itsch 1991a, 185*). Some authors regard Piper angustifolium as a synonym for Piper elongatum, which is also known as matico pepper.
Piper cubeba L. [syn. Cubeba officinalis Miq. (or Raf.)]-cubeb pepper This climbing shrub, which is indigenous to the Sunda Islands and eastern Asia, grows preferentially on Erythrina indica [syn. E. variegata] (cf. Erythrina spp.) and is the source of the fruit that is sold under the names cubeb, kubeb, cubeb pepper, pimenta cubeba, and fructus cubebae (Macmillan 1991, 415*; Norman 1991, 54*). The fruits contain 10 to 20% essential oil, 2.50/0 cubebin (C2oH2006)' and amorphous cubeb acid. Large doses of the essential oil can induce irritation in the urinary tract as well as headaches, which is why one of the fruit's folk names is dizzy corns. Such typical CNSCentral Nervous System symptoms as anxiety states and delirium have also been reported. Two grams has been given as a well-tolerated single dosage, while the daily dosage should not exceed 10 g (Roth et al. 1994, 570*). Hildegard von Bingen described the psychoactive effects as well as an anaphrodisiac effect that is difficult to understand: The cubeb is warm, and this warmth in itself is of the proper mixture, and it is also dry. And when someone eats cubeb, then any unseemly desires that are within him are moderated. But it also makes his spirits cheerful and his reason and knowledge pure, for the useful and moderate warmth of the cubeb extinguishes the unseemly flames of desire in which the stinking and slimy liquids are hidden, and it makes the spirit of man and his reason illuminatingly clear. (Physica 1.26) Cubeb is used in folk medicine in cases of weakness of memory and to increase the sexual appetite (aphrodisiac) (Gottlieb 1974, 26 f. *; Halzl et al. 1993, 196). In Yemen, where they are known as kebab, the fruits are regarded as an aphrodisiac and nerve tonic (Fleurentin and Pelt 1982,92 f.*). In former times, cubeb was often used as a spice. Today, it is used only in Asian cusine (e.g., as an ingredient in curries). It is one of the primary ingredients in the Moroccan spice mixture ras el hanout, which also contains cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), nutmeg fruits and flowers (Myristica fragrans) , galanga (Alpinia sp.; cf. Kaempferia galanga), long pepper (Piper longum), cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum), cloves (Syzygium aromaticum) , ginger (Zingiber officinale) , rose buds (Rosa sp.), lavender flowers (Lavandula angustifolia Mill.) , Spanish fly (Cantharides), ash berries (Fraxinus sp.?), paradise corns (Amomum melegueta), black pepper (Piper nigrum), peanuts (Arachis hypogaea 1.), turmeric (Curcuma longa), cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), fennel seeds (Nigella sativa), monk's pepper (Vitex agnus-castus) , belladonna (Atropa belladonna), and violet root (Viola odorata 1.) (Norman 1991, 96f.*). The consumption of large quantities of this spice mixture is said to produce psychoactive and aphrodisiac effects. Cubeb pepper is also an ingredient in Oriental joy pills and was once used as an additive to wine (see Vitis vinifera).
Piper elongatum Vahl [syn. Artanthe elongata (Vah!) Miq., Piper angustifolium RUlz et Pavon, Piper purpurascens D. Dietr., Steggensia elongata (Vah!) Kunth]-matico pepper The matico or soldiers' pepper comes from the Central and South American tropics and has a long history of use as a medicine and as an agent of pleasure. The leaves contain 0.3 to 60/0 essential oil, in which asarone and parsley apiol are present alongside the primary component, dillapiol (cf. Acorus calamus, Petroselinum crispum). Matico pepper is used in Panama as an aphrodisiac and stimulant (Holzi et al. 1993, 198). In Mexico, it is one of the traditional spices for cacao (see Theobroma cacao). It is possible that mild psychoactive effects can result from the consumption ofhigh doses of the leaves.
|Piper interitum Trelease-tetsi pepper
The Kulina Indians of Peru use the leaves and roots of Piper interitum, which they call tetsi, to produce a snuff used as a substitute for tobacco snuff (cf. Nicotiana tabacum) that is alleged to have psychoactive properties (Schultes 1978b, 227*; Schultes and Raffauf 1990, 365 f.*).
Piper longum 1. [syn. Chavica roxbhurgii Miq., Chavica sarmentosa (Roxb.) Miq., Piper latifolium Hunter, Piper sarmentosum Roxb.Jlong pepper, pippali In Asia and Arabia, the unripe fruits of the long pepper are used as a spice, an aphrodisiac, and a medicine (Fleurentin and Pelt 1982, 92 f. *; Ratsch 1995). They contain approximately 1% essential oil with sesquiterpene hydrocarbons and p-cymene, dihydrocarveol, terpinoles, and a-thujene as well as amides (piperidine and others). The drug has vasodilatory properties (Holzi et al. 1993,200). In Asia, long pepper has been used as a spice for much longer than black pepper (Norman 1991, 52*). While black pepper has been regarded as an aphrodisiac in Europe since ancient times, long pepper has an even greater reputation. Long pepper is a principal ingredient in numerous recipes for the aphrodisiac preparations used in tantric rituals (cf. Oriental joy pills). It is regarded as an "inciter" in Ayurvedic medicine. Its qualities are pungent, heating, and sweet, which is why it strengthens the functions of the genital system and is said to provide the organs of desire with a warming energy (Lad and Frawley 1987, 249*). The Ananga-Ranga, an ancient Indian book on the art of the love, lists a tantric "secret agent"possibly with psychoactive effects-that awakens the lingam (= phallus) to life: Take a few corns of black pepper [Piper nigrum], seeds of the thorn apple [Datura metel], one pod of pinpalli (Piper longum, which yields the pepper that works slowly, or betel powder [Areca catechu]) with lodhra peel or Morinda citrifolia, which is used for dyeing; rub this with light honey and [rub it on the lingam]. This agent is unsurpassable. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethes, AnangaRanga 1985, 65) The spice mixture trikatu, "three spices;' which is widely known in India, consists of equal parts of long pepper, black pepper, and dried pieces of gingerroot (Zingiber officinale). This mixture is considered to be the most important Ayurvedic stimulant. Trikatu is a rejuvenator for agni, the inner fire. At the same time, it is important as an agent that is taken together with other medicines; its stimulating effects potentiate or improve the assimilation of all kinds of active substances.
Piper plantagineum Schlecht. This Caribbean species was once allegedly used in the West Indies (Mexico) in a similar manner to Piper methysticum; it may be identical to Piper auritum.
Piper sp.-syryboa In his book Der Orientalisch-Indianische Kunstund Lustgartner [The Oriental-Indian Art and Pleasure Gardener] (1677), George Meister, who traveled to the East Indies, described a species of Piper that was used in a similar manner to or as a substitute for betel pepper (Piper betle): On Foliis Syryboae. These run lengthwise up the trees in the same way as folia bettele or pepper. The fruit is almost that of a long pepper species, pungent taste, looking like the so-called aments that hang on the hazel nuts in the spring, but somewhat thicker and longer, almost a span in length. These are cut from one another and eaten along with filled bettele leaves and the fruit areca [cf. Areca catechu] . In addition, they also take the flower, known as canange, which has yellow petals, with this, so that it has not just a pleasant scent but also a good taste. (Ch. 9, 20) Unfortunately, the species of pepper described here as an additive to betel quids cannot be determined with certainty. The "canange flower" is very likely the blossom of the ylang-ylang tree (Cananga odorata; cf. essential oils).
Piper spp.-masho-hara The Tanimuka and Yucuna Indians of the Rio Miritiparana (Amazonia) boil the very aromatic leaves of one Piper species to prepare a drink that is said to invigorate the elderly (Schultes 1993, 135*). Other species of Piper that are also known as masho-hara or yauardi-hena are used as ritual snuffs in Amazonia. The Muinane from the region of La Pedrera make a snuff from the dried leaves of a Piper species and tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum). Shamans chew or smoke various Piper species to track down cases of witchcraft. The Cane10 use a Piper species that they call guayusa (cf. Ilex guayusa) as a stimulant (Schultes and Raffauf 1990,367 f.*). One Piper species endemic to Papua New Guinea that has not yet been botanically described contains kavalactones (cf. keu).
Literature See also the entries for Piper auritum, Piper betle, Piper methysticum, and Macropiper excelsum. Atal, C. K., K. 1. Dhar, and J. Singh. 1975. The chemistry of Indian Piper species. Lloydia 38:256-64. Avella, Eliseo, Pedro P. Diaz, and Aura M. P. de Diaz. 1994. Constituents from Piper divaricatum. Planta Medica 60:195. Costa, Mirtes, Luiz C. di Stasi, Mizue Kirizawa, Sigrid 1.J. Menda<;:olli, Cecilia Gomes, and Gustaf Trolin. 1989. Screening in mice of some medicinal plants used for analgesic purposes in the state of Sao Paulo. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 27:25-33. Goethes, Johann Wolfgang v., ed. Ananga-Ranga. 1985. Orientalische Liebeslehre. Munich: Goldmann. Holzl, Josef, S. Wiltrud Juretzek, and Elisabeth StahlBiskup. 1993. Piper. In Ragers Randbuch der pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5th ed., 5:52-59. Berlin: Springer. Ilyas, M. 1976. Spices in India. Economic Botany 30:273-80. Raisch, Christian. 1995. Piper longum, derayurvedische Scharfmacher. Dao 6/95:68.