PIPPALI (Piper longum)
It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, it possesses various synonyms, describing its properties and specialities, like usana –pungent, capala – quickly acting, krsna – black, magadhi – from Magadha region, upakulya – growing near water resources, kola improving the test sensation etc. The great sage Caraka has categorized it as dipaniya – an appetizer, kanthya – beneficial for the throat, uptighna – anti-saturative, asthapanao-paga – an adjunct to decoction enema, sirovirecaniya – a cleansing nasal therapy, purisa sangrahaniya – give form to the faeces, purisa virajaniya – give color to the stool, sita prasamana – relieve cold sensation on the skin, sulaghna – anti colic, rasayana – a rejuvenator, kasahara-anti-tussive, vamaka- emetic, hikka nigrahana – mitigates hiccup. The root of pippali, pippal mula is cited as dipaniya – an appetizer and sulaghna – anti colic. Pippali is on of the ingredients of trikatu – three pungents viz. sunthi, marica and pippali, which is the most commonly, used combination for the remedy of kapha dosha. Trikatu is anti-cold, anti tussive an well as anti-asthmatic in its properties. Pippali is a specially recommended rasayana for respiratory system (Pranavaha srotasa) and is the best rasayana rejuvenative to kapha dosha.
The plant grows all over India, in evergreen forests and is cultivated in Assam, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. A small shrub with a large woody root and numerous creeping, jointed stems, thickened at the nodes. The leaves are alternate, spreading, without stipules and blade varying greatly in size. The lowest leaves are 5-7 cm long, whereas, the uppermost 2-3 cm long. The flowers are in solitary spikes. The fruits, berries, in fleshy spikes 2.5-3.5 cm long and 5 mm thick, oblong, blunt and blackish green in color. The mature spikes collected and dried, form the commercial form of pippali and the root radix is known as pippalimula.
The botanical name of pippali is piper longum and it belongs to family piperaceae. The fruits contain 1% volatile oil, resin, a waxy alkaloid, a terpenoid substance and alkaloids piperine and piperlongumine. The roots contain piperine, piperlongumine or piplartine. The seeds contain sylvatin, sesamin and diaeudesmin. Two new alkaloids piperlongumine (piplartine) and piperlonguminine – from roots and stem bark, isolated. Piperlingumine, piperlonguminine, piperine and sesamin isolated from roots. Two new piperidine alkaloids – pipermonaline and piperundecalidine-isolated from fruit and their structure determined. Isolation and structure determination of three new pyrrolidides-brachyamide A, brachyamide B and brachystine
Pippali, when fresh and wet, is sweet in taste, sweet in the post digestive effect and has cold potency and heavy attribute. On drying, it is pungent in the taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and semi-hot in potency. It possesses light, sharp and fresh pippali, alleviates pitta but aggravates vata and kapha doshas. On the contrary, the dry pippali, which is commonly used, alleviates vata but aggravates pitta dosha. It is an appetizer, digestant, rejuvenative, febrifuge and a brain tonic and alleviates all the three dosas
The fruit, commonly known as pippali itself and its root, called as pippali mula are used for medicinal purpose. Pippali is seldom used externally, in case of painful and swollen conditions, wherein its paste is applied. Though it has mild antiseptic property, it is an irritant to the skin and manifistates allergic reactions. Internally, pippali is invaluable in vast range of diseases. Pippali is the best drug recommended in the disorders of the spleen. It is a powerful stimulant for the digestive and respiratory systems. It is strongly heating and removes cold, congestion and ama – the undigested toxic elements and revives the weakened organic functions. It is also a rejuvenative to lungs and kapha dosha. Trikatu is the most popular formulation used to mitigate the diseases due to kapha dosha, to digest ama and also it increases the bioavailability of the drug, when it is used as a complementary medicine.
Pippali effectively reconciles the digestive functions and is used with benefit in anorexia, indigestion, flatulence, abdominal pain, hyperacidity, piles etc. It works well with honey to combat hyperacidity. The decoction or its medicated milk can be used for the same. Pippali is beneficial, when given with amalaki in the treatment of anemia. For treating any type of fever, the medicated ghee of pippali is very useful. In chronic fever and tuberculosis, the preparation Vardhamana pippali is more effective. In fact, Vardhamana pippali is a regimen, praised in ancient scriptures in which the doses of pippali are increased gradually. On the first day, an infusion of 3 pippalis, boiled for a few minutes in a mixture of milk and water is taken (4:1). Then for 10 successive days the dose is increased by 1 pippali everyday. After 10 days, the dose is gradually decreased by 1 pippali daily. During this regimen only milk is consumed as a diet. This method is useful in treating chronic respiratory ailments, anemia, recurrent fevers, piles and digestive problems. It strengthens the immune system of the body.
Pippali is beneficial as a brain tonic and in the diseases of vata. The decoction is effectively used in sciatica and hemiplegia. Being the best rejuvenative, pippali sidda ghrta is useful in tuberculosis, cough and with the ghee and honey, it reduces the frequency of paroxysms in bronchial asthma. It also helps controlling hiccup, when given with honey. It boosts the reproductive system too, hence, is used as an aphrodisiac. It also works well in amenorrhea. Causasti pippali is one of the unique preparations, which is prepared by fortifying the pippali powder by triburating it with the decoction of pippali itself, for the duration of 8 days (64 prahara). It makes pippali very potent and fortified, so used in very small doses. Pippali mula, the root of pippali is used in the respiratory ailments, flatulence and to induce sleep and relieve abdominal colicky pain.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
Guda pippali etc.