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Long Pepper

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Long pepper is botanically named as Piper longum, sometimes called Indian long pepper, is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice. Long pepper has a similar, but hotter, taste to its close relative Piper nigrum. Piper longum or Long Pepper is a slender, aromatic, climbing vine found mostly in India. It has a pungent and sweet taste and has been valued since ancient times as a spice and seasoning.
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Botanical Names
Piper longum
Indian Names
Sanskrit : Pippali, Magadhi Hindi : Pipal Marathi : Pippali Tamil : Tippili Malayalam : Tippali Gujarati : Pipari Telugu : Pippallu Kannada : Kandan lippili
Chemical Constituents
The fruit of the pepper consists of many minuscule fruits each about the size of a poppy seed. The fruits contain the alkaloid piperine, which contributes to their pungency. Its chemical composition consists of a volatile oil and resinous matter and two alkaloids known as piperine and piperlongumine. Active ingredients of Piper longum are piperine and rutin. Main chemical components of Piper longum are piperine, rutin, beta- caryophyllene piperyline, piperoleines, piperamine, sabinene, chavicin, pinene, phellandrene, pentadecane, beta-bisabolene, linalool and limonene.
Pesticide Limits
A limit for pesticide is one of the major issues in standardization of medicinal plants and products in view of the worldwide widespread use of pesticides in cultivated plants. The presence of pesticides in extracts increase the health risk by many folds. The pesticides can be extremely irritant on skin as well as in the internal organs, it is essential to monitor its concentration as a part of GMP. Various analytical methods for the quantitative determination of pesticides by gas chromatography coupled with mass-spectrophotometer are in use. Konark Research Foundation (KRF), a NABL certified lab is well equipped with the latest technology and instruments and monitors the pesticide limit as part of its GMP.
Chromatographic Profile
From the pharmacopoeial perspective, a better quality control of raw material can be achieved by specifying quantitative test procedure for the determination of the range or a minimum content of the active ingredient or marker substances. A chromatographic finger profile represents qualitative/ quantitative determination of various components present in a complex plant extract, irrespective whether or not their exact identity is known. Thin layer chromatographic technique is the simplest and least expensive method that provides plenty of information on the composition of raw herbs and its preparation. For quantitative analysis of active ingredients or marker substances with simultaneous separation and detection High Pressure liquid chromatography is the best technique. We use the latest model of HPLC for all its analysis.
Limits of Impurities
A test requirement for foreign organic matter would ensure the extent of contamination of extraneous matters such as filth and other parts of botanicals not covered by the definition of the herbal drug. Since sand and soil are predictable contaminants of botanicals, test requirements for ‘total ash’, water soluble ash’, ‘acid soluble ash’, residue on ignition and sulphated ash would be expected to limit such contaminants. Test requirement for heavy metals in botanical raw material are probably more relevant for parts of plants growing under ground than for the aerial parts of the plant. The presence of high levels of minerals interacts with the final product there by affecting its keeping quality.
Microbial Limits
If the raw herbs are to be used directly without boiling in water prior to consumption, restrictive limits on microbial contaminants are required for pathogens such as Salmonella sp. Enterobacter and E. coli which are causative agent for various gastrointestinal diseases. A lower level of yeasts and molds and a limit on total aerobes are considered appropriate in plant material for topical use. The presence of aflatoxins detected by chemical means is generally independent of the number of viable molds that are detected using microbiological methods. Aflatoxins in microgram quantity are capable of giving serious hypersensitivity reactions which can be extremely harmful to human health.
Pharmacology
Piper longum is not only used as a spice, but it has medicinal qualities as well. The herb has nerve depressant and antagonistic effects on muscular spasms. It has analgesic, tonic, stimulant and carminative properties. The oil extracted from Piper longum has antibacterial properties. Piper longum extracts possesses a good antibacterial activity against pathogenic organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, Shigella sp., and Klebsiella pneumoniae. It also possesses antagonistic effects on electro-shock and chemo-shock seizures as well as other muscular spasms. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine it is mentioned that Piper longum is a good rejuvenator. Piper longum also possesses antitumor and immunomodulatory activity. Alcoholic extract of the fruits of the plant Piper longum and its component piperine was studied for their immunomodulatory and antitumor activity. Alcoholic extract of the fruits and piperine was toxic to Dalton’s lymphoma ascites cells and Ehrlich ascites carcinoma cells. Administration of alcoholic extract of Piper longum as well as piperine could inhibit the solid tumor development in mice induced with DLA cells and increase the life span of mice bearing Ehrlich ascites carcinoma tumor.
Health Benefits
Piper longum is a powerful stimulant for the digestive and the respiratory systems. It is also digestive and carminative in action. It also has beneficial effects on lung afflictions. Due to its multidimensional effect on the various systems of the body, it has been described as antipyretic, diuretic, aphrodisiac, immuno-stimulant. Long pepper has medical uses and benefits. It is most commonly used to treat respiratory infections such as cough, bronchitis and asthma. It can also be used to treat stomachaches, diseases of the spleen and tumors. When applied externally, it soothes and relieves muscular pains and inflammation. The whole, aqueous, standardized extracts of Piper longum when administered orally to experimental animals the plant was found to offer protection against biological, physical and chemical stressors as judged by using markers of stress responses.
Research References
E. S. Sunila and G. Kuttan. Immunomodulatory and antitumor activity of Piper longum Linn. and piperine Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2004. 90(2-3):339-346 Hullatti K. K. and Uma D. Murthy Activity Guided Isolation of Cytotoxic Compounds from Indian Medicinal Plants Using BSL Bioassay Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research 2010; 01: 16-18
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