Black Pepper research explores its analgesic, anti-inflammatory and warming properties.  This indicates that it is helpful for dealing with pain. I’m sharing a couple of studies around this here.   Some interesting Black Pepper research reviewing the effectiveness of this essential oil on nicotine cravings is also available.

I reviewed this oil earlier this month.  You might also find the article on how to stop smoking using essential oils interesting.

Study 1 

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Vol. 20, Issue 10, October 2014, Pages 771 – 779

The Effectiveness of Essential Oils for Patients with Neck Pain: A Randomized Controlled Study

Ming-Chiu Ou, Yu-Fei Lee, Chih-Ching Li, and Shyi-Kuen Wu


Objectives: To assess the efficacy of aromatic essential oils on neck pain.

Design: Sixty participants with a history of neck pain and Neck Disability Index (NDI) score >10% were selected and randomly divided into control and experimental groups.

Setting: Motion analysis laboratory at Hungkuang University.

Intervention: For the experimental group, the intervention included 3% concentration cream composed of four essential oils: marjoram, black pepper, lavender, and peppermint. For the control group, only an unscented cream was provided. For 4 weeks, all patients applied 2 g cream directly to the affected area daily after showering or bathing.

Outcome measures: Assessment was performed by using a visual analogue scale (VAS), NDI, pressure pain threshold (PPT) evaluated with a pressure meter, and neck-joint range evaluated with Motion Analysis System (MAS).

Results: A t-test statistical analysis by SPSS statistical software indicated that VAS scores improved significantly for both groups (p<0.05). In addition, the experimental group had improved pain tolerance in the left upper trapezius (mean ± standard deviation, 2.96±2.54) and right upper trapezius (2.88±2.90) as measured by the PPT. According to the NDI, the experimental group also showed significant improvement (p=0.02). Comparison of MAS values before and after the intervention showed significant improvement in the 10 motion areas in the experimental group. This finding suggests that the experimental group had better results than the control group.

Conclusion: The essential oil cream developed in this study can be used to improve neck pain. This study appears to be the first to quantify this by using PPT and MAS.

Study 2

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 18, Issue 11, November 2012, Pages 1003 -1007

Intravenous Catheter Insertion in Patients With Poor Vein Visibility: A Controlled Study

Susan Kristiniak, Jean Harpel, Diane M. Breckenridge, and Jane Buckle


Objectives: To evaluate the effect of topically applied black pepper essential oil on easing intravenous catheter insertion (IVC) in patients with no palpable or visible veins compared to a control group (standard nursing practice).

Design: Randomized, controlled study.

Subjects: One hundred twenty hospitalized patients, who were referred to a hospital vascular team because of difficulty in accessing veins for IVC insertion.

Interventions: Topical application of 20% essential oil of black pepper in aloe vera gel or standard nursing care (hot packs with or without vigorous tactile stimulation).

Outcome Measures: Pre- and post-test vein visibility and/or palpability and number of attempts at IVC insertion.

Results: A higher percentage of patients achieved optimal scoring (vein score=2) or improved scoring (vein score of 1 or 2) to black pepper intervention than standard nursing care. The black pepper group also reduced the number of patients whose veins were still not visible or palpable after the intervention to nearly half that of the control group (p<0.05). The number of IVC attempts following black pepper was also half that of the control group.

Conclusion: Topical application of black pepper is a viable and effective way to enhance vein visibility and palpability prior to intravenous insertion in patients with limited vein accessibility; it also improves ease of IVC insertion.