English: Black pepper

Chinese: 胡椒

Parts used: Dried ripe fruit-spike

TCM category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

TCM nature: Hot

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Large intestine Stomach

Scientific name: Piper nigrum

Other names: Hú jiāo

Use of Hu Jiao (black pepper) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Crush in fine powder before use

Dosage: 0.6 - 1.5g

Main actions according to TCM*: Warm the body core and dissipates cold, subdues upward Qi flow and eliminates phlegm

Primary conditions or symptoms for which Hu Jiao may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Vomiting Abdominal pain Loss of appetite Epilepsy Phlegm

Key TCM concepts behind Hu Jiao's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Hu Jiao belongs to the 'Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold' category. Herbs in this category are used for Internal Cold with Qi Deficiency and/or Yang Deficiency. In the Yin and Yang system of thought Yang is Hot in nature. A deficiency of Yang will therefore lead to Internal Coldness since there will as a result be more Yin (Cold in nature) than Yang. In extreme cases this can lead to so-called 'Yang collapse' with convulsions or coma and these herbs are particularly indicated to treat such scenarios.

As suggested by its category Hu Jiao is Hot in nature. This means that Hu Jiao typically helps people who have too much "Cold" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much 'Cold' in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess (because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition Hu Jiao can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Hu Jiao also tastes Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like Hu Jiao tends to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Hu Jiao is thought to target the Large intestine and the Stomach. In TCM the Large Intestine receives the "impure" parts of the digested food from the Small Intestine, absorbs the remaining fluids and excrete the remainder as feces. The Stomach on the other hand is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine.

Use of Hu Jiao as food

Hu Jiao is also eaten as food.