When Christopher Columbus arrived in Jamaica in 1494 and “discovered” this spice, he was enthusiastic believing that it was his day of luck and that it was peppercorns, considering that pepper was an extremely valuable object that could even be used as a currency of exchange at that time.
It was an understandable mistake, since the cayenne pepper berries look like peppercorns, although they are somewhat larger and have an intense reddish-brown color.
Jamaica pepper is the only spice originating in the Western Hemisphere.
Although it comes from Jamaica, this small evergreen tree also grows in the jungles of Central and South America; However, most of these trees were cut down to obtain their berries and repopulation is complicated.
The production of this species is the main industry of Jamaica and its berries are considered of higher quality than those of Guatemala or other American countries.
If you’ve ever been to Jamaica, you’ll probably know the best expression of this spice: the jerk secret that makes Jamaican cuisine so unique. Jamaican pepper is the ingredient that brings the spark to Jamaican-style chicken or pork. (The extremely spicy Jamaican chilies -Scotch Bonnet- are responsible for their intensity).
With respect to its medicinal properties, this spice has antiviral and antibacterial activity, the reason why it is a good remedy against the infections. It also has analgesic and anesthetic properties and offers moderate relief from pain.
It is a traditional Jamaican remedy for relieving colds, calming stomach pain, regulating the menstrual cycle, and alleviating indigestion, flatulence and other digestive disorders.
Russian soldiers took advantage of their calorific (stimulating) qualities during the Napoleonic invasion of 1812, scattering it in their boots to improve circulation and keep their feet warmer.
A powerful antioxidant Jamaican pepper is full of antioxidants. In a study in Japan, researchers found that these tiny berries contained 25 active phenols, a category of antioxidants including ellagic acid, eugenol, and quercetin, which fight against cellular oxidative damage that can lead to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other chronic health problems. In addition, it is likely that this species possesses additional therapeutic properties.
Costa Rican scientists discovered in three separate studies that pepper lowered blood pressure in laboratory animals. According to these researchers, this spice relaxes the central nervous system and increases blood flow in the arteries.
Another research has recently confirmed a fact that Costa Rican herbalists have known for centuries: pepper helps to relieve the symptoms of menopause like hot flashes.
The researchers analyzed this spice along with sixteen other plants used in herbal medicine as a possible alternative to hormone replacement therapy, which increases the risk of heart problems and certain types of cancer. Although it is a preliminary investigation, scientists believe that pepper could be a viable natural option for the treatment of menopause and osteoporosis.
Popular remedies with Jamaica Pepper
-Pepper remedy for athlete’s foot: Spread pepper powder between affected fingers 2 times a day until athlete’s foot is gone. This remedy has antifungal properties
-Remedy with pepper for muscle pain: Mix 1 tablespoon of olive oil 5 drops of essential oil of pepper and rub over the area that presents the pain. Perform this remedy several times a day. Due to its anti-inflammatory action, it can also be used to relieve muscle and joint pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
-Remedy with pepper for slimming: Put in a mortar 1 clove, 1 slice of fresh ginger root and 5 or 6 grains of cayenne pepper and 2 cinnamon sticks and lightly crush. Boil 1 liter of water and bring to the fire until it reaches the boiling point. Pour all the ingredients, cover the container and let it infuse for 10 minutes. Filter and take it throughout the day. Take at least 1 month to see the first results. This remedy activates the metabolism which helps to burn calories.