Scientists are reporting that a spice, the Indian Long Pepper, has incredible medicinal properties. In fact, the hot pepper has cancer-fighting abilities.

A Hot Topic

The Indian Long Pepper is often used in Ayurveda, a whole body healing system. (Ayurveda been practiced for thousands of years and is particularly associated with Indian medicine.) So, the benefits of the long pepper spice have long been known and used, especially in Indian, Asian, and African cuisine.
The long pepper is the fruit cultivated from a flowering vine. When it’s picked and dried, it’s made of a spice. It’s grown in India although there is another similar spice, which is grown in Indonesia. Those fruits long more like American chili peppers, even though they are much hotter and contain different properties.

Medicinal New Findings

A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reports that the Indian long pepper stops cancer from spreading and growing. The pepper contains a chemical that inhibits production of a particular enzyme found in cancer tumors. One of the authors states that besides shrinking tumors, the pepper can also kill cancer cells.
The chemical in the pepper, once ingested, gets started on its healing work. It basically acts like a drug. It suppresses the body’s instinct and production of the enzyme that spreads cancer.

Pepper on the Horizon

Scientists involved in the study, as well as other experts and researchers, agree that the Indian pepper healing chemical is not quite potent enough to be “a cure” for cancer. However, it’s a great place to start in order to experiment with developing a drug that can eventually be used in cancer therapy.
Capsaicin, a chemical found in chili and cayenne peppers, has also shown some promise towards inhibiting cancer cell growth. Currently, capsaicin is used to relieve certain types of pain from arthritis (joint pain), cluster headaches, shingles, and others.

How to Get Your Indian Long Pepper

You can purchase long pepper online or at a specialty spice shop. Make sure it’s from the plant Piper retrofactum (from Indonesia) or Piper longhum (from India.)
You should not ingest long pepper by itself. It is safely and flavorfully used as a spice or seasoning on food. Traditional Indian dishes like chutneys often use long pepper. You’ll also find the spice added to slow-cooked African dishes.
Here’s an interesting recipe worth attempting if you like asparagus and want to give long pepper a try:

Roast Asparagus with Long Pepper Gremolata (via Serious Eats)

1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoons long pepper, toasted and freshly ground
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander, toasted and freshly ground
4 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
Turn on broiler and adjust rack to 4 to 6 inches from heat source. Trim bottom two inches off asparagus, rub with oil, and season well with salt. Arrange in a single layer in an oven-safe skillet or baking sheet.
Broil for two to three minutes, then check on asparagus for signs of light charring and a bright green color. Very thin spears may be finished at this point. Squeeze gently with tongs. If still very firm, return to broiler for another two to three minutes, or until spears bend slightly but break with a snap.
Combine long pepper, coriander, garlic, and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix to combine. Toss with asparagus and serve immediately.
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