Long pepper – nutrition, proven benefits and uses

The scientific name of the long pepper is Piper retrofractum Vahl.

Other names include

BENGALI: Pipool, Choi, Chab.
CHINESE: Jia bi bo, Bi ba, Zhao wa chang guo hu jiao.
CZECH: Pepř Dlouhý.
DUTCH: Javaanse Lange Peper, Langwerpige Peper.
ESTONIAN: Pikk Pipar.
FRENCH: Poivre long de Java.
GERMAN: Balinesischer Pfeffer*, Bengalischer Pfeffer, Jaborandi-Pfeffer, Langer Pfeffer, Stangenpfeffer
GREEK: Makropiperi.
HINDI: Chab, Chavi, Pipal, Pipar, Pipli.
HUNGARIAN: Bali bors, Bengáli Bors.
INDIA: Gajapipali, Chevuyam.
JAPANESE: Indonaga-Kosho, Ishigaki jima.
KHMER: Morech Ansai.
KOREAN: Pil-Bal, Pilbal.
LAO: I Lo, Sa Li Pi
MALAY: Lada panjang, Lada sulah, Cabé jawa (Indonesia), Cabé panjang (Indonesia).
MALAYALAM: Thippali.
MARATHI: Pimpali.
POLISH: Pieprz długi.
PUNJABI: Darfilfil, Magha.
RUSSIAN: Dlinnyj perec, Dlinnyj Perets.
SANSKRIT: Chanchala, Kana, Magandhi, Pippali, Ushana.
SLOVAK: Dlhé Korenie, Piepor Dlhý.
SLOVENIAN: Podolgovati Poper.
SWEDISH: Långpeppar.
TAMIL: Tippali, Vanapippili.
THAI: Dee Plee, Dipli, Dipli-chuak*, Dok dipli, Phrik-hang.
TURKISH: Dar Fulful†, Dari Fülfül†, Uzun Biber.
URDU: Pipul.

Long pepper is a deciduous vine, growing to a height of 2 to 4 meters. Leaves are short-petioled, pale when dry, oblong, oblong-ovate, or elliptic lanceolate, 6 to 7.5 centimeters long, 3 to 8 centimeters wide, papery; the base sublateral or inequilateral, pointed or slightly heart-shaped and the apex pointed; penninerved, the lateral nerves 7 to 11 on each side of the midrib, ascending. Male spikes are 3.8 to 8.5 centimeters long, 2.5 to 4.5 millimeters in diameter; the bracts somewhat stalked, and peltate. Stamens are 2 to 3, stalkless. Female spikes are oblong when mature, red, fleshy and cylindrical, 3 to 6.5 centimeters long, 6.5 to 11 millimeters in diameter. Rachis is smooth and the bracts are stalkless and peltate. Fruit is more or less united, partly or wholly embedded in and concrescent with the rachis. Stigmas are three and short. Seeds are subglobose to obovoid-globose, 2 to 2.5 millimeters long.

Nutritional Constituents of Long pepper

• Study yielded retrofractamide-D.

• Study has yielded piperine, piperlonguminine, sylvatine, guineensine, piperlonguimine, filfiline, sitosterol, methyl piperate and a series of piperine-analog retrofractamides.

• Study of leaves isolated two new compounds, piperoside and isoheptanol 2(S)-O-ßD-xylopyranosyl (1-6)-O-ß-D-glucopyranoside, along with 10 known compounds. (see study )

Medicinal Properties of Long pepper

• Studies have suggested larvicidal, antioxidants, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, anti-dengue, aphrodisiac properties.

Part utilized

Roots, leaves.


– Leaves and berries of this pepper are edible.

– In some countries, used for green peppercorn spice.

– Fiery and more pungent than black pepper.

– In India, mainly used for pickles.

Folkloric traditional medicine uses and remedies with long pepper

– Root is chewed and the saliva swallowed, or the decoction of root taken internally as cure for colic, dyspepsia and gastralgia.

– For postpartum fevers and chills, a handful of leaves are salted and oiled, then heated over embers and stroked over the entire body, from head to foot.

– In Ayurveda, traditionally used to promote respiratory and digestive health; an ingredient in compound medicinal teas.

– In China, used for vomiting, hiccups, stomachaches, diarrhea due to coldness in the stomach. For toothaches, applied externally.

– In Bangladesh, plant used to cure rheumatic pain and body pain after childbirth. Fruits used for coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, fever, hemorrhoids. Roots used for asthma, bronchitis, and consumption. (see study)

– One of three ingredients in Trikatuk—Zingiber officinale, Piper nigrum, and Piper retrofractum—a Thai traditional medicine, used to adjust a patient’s element during the rainy season, for the treatment of illness due to fire, winder and water elements. (see study)

Scientific proven health benefits and uses of long pepper


Mosquito larvicidal activity of aqueous extracts of long pepper (Piper retrofractum Vahl) from Thailand: Among nine medicinal plant extracts, PR showed the highest level of activity against mosquito larvae. Extracts of unripe and ripe fruits showed different levels of activity. The ripe fruit extract was more active against Ae. aegypti than Cx. quinquefasciatus.

Antioxidant: Chemical Constituents of Peppers (Piper spp.) and application to Food Preservation:

Naturally Occurring Antioxidative Compounds: All phenolic compounds isolated, seven from P retrofractum, possess significant antioxidant activities.

Cardioprotective / Antioxidant:

Petroleum ether extract of root and piperine from roots of Piper longum pretreatment decreased lipid peroxide level and maintained glutathione to near normal levels in treated rats. Results showed the extract of the plant root and piperine exerted anti-oxidant activity and cardioprotective benefit in the myocardial ischemic condition.

Antimycobacterial Activity :

In a study of various extracts from medicinal plants used as self-medication by AIDS patients in Thailand were tested for their antimycobacterial activity. The chloroform extract of P chaba fruits showed strong inhibitory effects; piperine was its active compound.

Piperine / CNS Activity / Anticonvulsant:

Piperine isolated from study showed a strong potentiating effect on hexobarbital induced hypnosis. Piperine exerted a potent anticonvulsant effect measured by protection against strychnine mortality.

Anti-Inflammatory / Anti-IL-6 Production:

Study of inflammatory effects of extracts from P. retrofractum clearly showed regulation of LPS-induced IL-6 production by pure products from Piper extracts.

Aphrodisiac / Toxicity Study:

Study evaluated the toxicity and aphrodisiac effect of a combination infusion of P. retrofractum, Centella asiatica and Cucurma domestica on Sprague-Dawley strain of male rats. Results showed significant differences in coitus and climbing frequencies between the treated male rat group and the untreated group. Infusion of 1000 mg/200g bw had a safe aphrodisiac effect on male Sprague-Dawley rat libido.


Study of evaluated 28 extracts from the fruits of four species, viz. Piper cubeba, P. retrofractum, P. longum, and P. nigrum against bacterial pathogens Staphylococcus aureus, S. typhi, P. aeuriginosa, E. coli and Bacillus megaterium and one fungus, Aspergillus niger. Compared to Streptomycin all extracts showed good antibacterial activity. Some exhibited antifungal activity.

Piperidine Alkaloids / Anti-Obesity Effect / Anti-High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity:

Study isolated piperidine alkaloids, including piperine, pipermonaline, and dehydropipermonaline as anti-obesity constituents. Results showed piperidine alkaloids attenuated HFD-induced obesity by activating AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) and PPAR, and regulated lipid metabolism, suggesting potential anti-obesity effects.

Anticancer / Mixture of Zingiber officinale and Piper retrofractum Extracts:

Study of evaluated the cytotoxicity activity of a combination of ethanolic extracts of Z. officinale and P. retrofractum on HeLa and T47D cell lines. Z. officinale yielded terpenoids while P. retrofractum yielded alkaloids. The mixture showed cytotoxicity against HeLa and T47D cell lines, probably through ab apoptotic mechanism.

Dental Plaque Benefits / Inhibition of Streptococcus sanguis:

Streptococcus sanguis is a bacteria involved in the formation of dental plaque, calculus, and caries. Study of various extract concentrations showed growth inhibition of Streptococcus sanguis.

Anti-Dengue Virus:

In a study of 10 medicinal plants for anti-dengue type 2 activities in Vero cell by MTT method. At a concentration of 12.5 µg/ml, an ethanol extract showed inhibitory activity against DENV2 with 45.52% inhibition, 32.06% with a dichloromethane extract. At a concentration of of 100 µg/ml, there was 84.93% inactivation of viral particles.

Neurotrophic Activity / Fruits/ support the growth, survival, and differentiation of both developing and mature neurons:

Study of fruits yielded three new compounds, 1-3, together with 22 known compounds. Compound 1 was found to enhance the neurite outgrowth of NGF-mediated PC12 cells.

Antioxidant / Antimalarial:

Study showed good antioxidant activity for Piper retrofractum, Zizyphus sativa, Eulophia campestris on DPPH assay method; P. retrofractum was the most potent. The free radical scavenging activity of these plants probably contributes to the effectiveness of the plants in malaria therapy.

New Phenylpropanoid and Alkylglycoside / Antioxidant / α-Glucosidase Inhibition:

Study of leaves isolated two new compounds, piperoside and isoheptanol 2(S)-O-ßD-xylopyranosyl (1-6)-O-ß-D-glucopyranoside, along with 10 known compounds. All the isolated compounds showed modest α-glucosidase inhibitory and antioxidant activities.

Anti-Lice Shampoo:

Study evaluated formulation of herbal shampoo from long pepper fruit (Piper retrofractum) extracts—10% and 3% concentrations—against human head louse (Pediculus capitis) on 60 heavily lice-infested children at Ladkrabang, Bangkok. Both herbal shampoo proved to be highly effective against all stages of human head lice, considered safe in children, with no post-application side effects.

Potential as Androgenic Phytopharma:

Study results suggest javanese long pepper is one source of natural androgen; and a daily dose of 100 mg may act as androgenic phytopharma, which could safely increase libido and testosterone blood levels.

Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Sahastara in Treatment of Osteoarthritis:

Sahastara (SHT) is a Thai traditional alternative medicines used in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. Its main plants ingredients are Piper nigrum and Piper retrofractum, comprising 33.6% of the whole preparation, and which have shown high anti-inflammatory activity on PGE2 release. Piperine, the main component of SHT remedy is also main components of PN and PR which has shown anti-inflammatory activity on human OA by inhibition of IL-1ß. A double-blind randomized and controlled trial showed SHT exhibited equal clinical efficacy in alleviating symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee when compared with diclofenac, with improved quality of life, and no liver or renal toxicity.

Piperine / Antidepressant / Fruit Volatile Oils:

Study evaluate the piperine content and antidepressant potential of the volatile oils of fruits of different Piper species, viz. Piper betle, Piper cubeta, P. retrofracturm (P. chaba), P. longum and Piper nigrum using forced swimming method on albino mice with fluoxetine as standard antidepressant drug. All volatile oils of the Piper fruits showed more activity than the standard compound, fluoxetine. Piperine content was maximum in P. nigrum followed by P. chaba. Piperine is a piperidine type alkaloids, known to be a central nervous system depressant.


– Wild-crafted.
– Fruit powder in the market.

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