Hu Jiao (White Pepper or Black Pepper)

What Is Hu Jiao

Hu Jiao commonly known as White Pepper, Black Pepper, or Piperis Fructus is the dried and almost ripe or ripe fruit of Piper nigrum L., which is an evergreen climbing vine belonging to the family Piperaceae. It is one of the most popular spices in the world and Chinese herbal medicine, which first appeared in <Xin Xiu Ben Cao> in 659 AD.

Piper nigrum L. also called Pepper is an important aromatic plant. This plant requires a long rainy season, fairly high temperatures, and partial shade for best growth. They are native to the Malabar coast of India and are now widely grown in tropical areas of Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Africa. India, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka are the major countries of P. nigrum production.

White Pepper

From late autumn to the following spring, when the fruits of Piper nigrum L. are dark green, people gather them, dry them in the sun, and make them into black pepper, or when their fruits turn red, people gather them, soak them with water, take off the pulp, dry them in the sun, and make them into white pepper.

Hu Jiao contains piperine, piperanine, piperettine, piperolein A, pipernonaline, dehydropipernonaline, piperolein B, piperchabamide B, piperchabamide C, piperylin, piperolactam, brachyamide A, isopiperolein B, piperlonguminine, dihydropiperlonguminine, feruperine, dihydroferuperine, N-trans-feruloyl tyramine, pellitorine, D-limonene, β-terpinene, cineole, D-α-pinene, β-pinene, α-citral, β-myrcene, β-citral, citronellal, β-caryophyllene, camphene, terpineol, phellandrene, ocimene, β-elemen, humulene, 3-thujene, D-germacrene, 3-carene, citronellol, geraniol, cadinene, lignans, triterpenoids, and flavonoids.

Generally, the plump Hu Jiao with a strong fragrance is preferred.

Piper nigrum

According to the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, the medicinal nature of Hu Jiao is relatively hot, with a pungent taste. It has a therapeutic effect on pathological changes in the stomach and large intestine meridians.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to warm middle energizer and dispel cold, keep the adverse qi flowing downward, reduce phlegm, and treat vomiting due to stomach-cold, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, stomach pain, regurgitation, loss of appetite, indigestion, epilepsy with excessive phlegm, menstrual disorders, dysmenorrhea, cough, sinusitis, sore throat, ears pain, chronic eczema, scabies, bedsores, furuncles, urinary retention, pediatric diarrhea, toothache, frostbite, malaria, asthmatic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis in the elderly, respiratory tract infections, rheumatoid arthritis, and snake bites.

There are more than 50 kinds of traditional Chinese medicine prescriptions containing it, such as Xiao Er Nuan Qi Gao, Wei Tong Ding, and Qi Wei Ke Teng Zi Wan.


  • Anti-inflammation, inhibiting carrageenan-induced paw swelling in mice and improving ovalbumin-induced nasal epithelial barrier dysfunction [1, 2].
  • Increasing the pain threshold, prolonging the latency of the pain response in mice caused by thermal stimulation, and reducing the number of writhing responses in mice induced by acetic acid [1].
  • Anti-oxidation, scavenging superoxide anion free radicals, DPPH free radicals, and ABTS free radicals, inhibiting lipid peroxidation.
  • Piperine can significantly reduce the blood glucose level in tetraoxypyrimidine-induced subacute diabetic mice [3].
  • Reducing the serum total cholesterol, triglyceride, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in hyperlipidemia model rats.
  • Warming middle energizer and dispelling cold, treating cold pain in stomach and abdomen, and vomiting caused by stomach-cold.
  • Promoting appetite to increase food intake, treating regurgitation, loss of appetite, indigestion, and diarrhea caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.
  • Regulating qi-flowing for activating stagnancy, and treating epilepsy with excessive phlegm caused by blockage of upper orifices due to phlegm stagnation.
  • Its ethyl alcohol and hexane extract can suppress the onset and duration of pentylenetetrazol and maximal electroshock stimulation-induced seizures in Wistar rats.
  • Inhibiting the proliferation of prostate cancer DU14 cells and breast cancer MCF-7 cells, and inducing apoptosis in Hela cells, human clonal colon adenocarcinoma Caco-2 cells, and leukemia CEM/ADR5000 cells.
  • Its ethanol extract has a certain inhibitory effect on Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecalis, Streptococcus saccharose, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Salmonella enterica [4].
  • It is highly toxic to members of the An. gambiae species complex including An. gambiae (sensu stricto), An. coluzzii, An. arabiensis and An. quadriannulatus [5].
  • The study showed that its essential oil possesses a dual anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effect through the possible involvement of serotonergic transmission [6].


  • It can be used in combination with Gao Liang Jiang (Rhizoma Alpiniae Officinarum), Bi Bo (Fructus Piperis Longi), etc. to treat cold pain in the stomach and abdomen, and vomiting caused by stomach-cold.
  • It can be used in combination with Ban Xia (Pinellia Rhizome) and Sheng Jiang (Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens) to treat regurgitation and loss of appetite.
  • It can be used in combination with Wu Zhu Yu (Evodiae Fructus), Bai Zhu (Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae), etc. to treat diarrhea caused by deficiency-cold in the spleen and stomach.
  • It can be used in combination with Bi Bo (Fructus Piperis Longi), etc. to treat epilepsy with excessive phlegm caused by blockage of upper orifices due to phlegm stagnation.
  • It can be used in combination with Xue Jie (Sanguis Draconis), Bing Pian (Borneol), and Liu Huang (Sulfur) to treat eczema.

Side Effects

  • A small percentage of patients chewing pepper may cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, which lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Overdosing it may cause congestive inflammation.

Precautions and Warnings

  • The dosage of Hu Jiao should be controlled between 0.6-1.5g.
  • It can be made into a powder or ground for external use.
  • People who are allergic to Hu Jiao should not take it.
  • It should not be used at the same time as potassium iodide.
  • Patients with febrile diseases or internal heat due to yin deficiency should not take it.
  • Pregnant women should not take it.
  • Lactating women, children, and the elderly and infirm should be taken under the guidance of a physician.