This section is from the book "Materia Medica And Therapeutics: An Introduction to the National Treatment of Disease", by John Mitchell Bruce. Also available from Amazon: The pharmacology and therapeutics of the materia medica.
The dried unripe berries of Piper nigrum. Imported from the East Indies.
Characters.-Small, roundish, wrinkled ; tegument brown -ish-black, containing a greyish-yellow globular seed. Odour aromatic. Taste pungent, and bitterish.
Substances resembling Black Pepper; Pimento, which has calyx; Cubebs, which has stalk.
Composition.-Pepper contains a volatile oil, isomeric with turpentine, with the odour of pepper ; a complex resin ; a tasteless crystalline alkaloid, piperin, C17Hl9N03, that is, isomeric with morphia; and chavicin.
Dose.-5 to 20 gr.
Confectio Piperis.-1 in 10. Dose, 1 to 2 dr.
Pepper is also contained in Confectio Opii (1 in 31), and Pulvis Opii Compositus (1 in 7 1/2).
Externally, pepper is a domestic rubefacient, anodyne, and counter-irritant, like mustard.
The volatile oil of pepper acts on the blood and tissues like its allies. Piperin is believed to possess the antiperiodic and antipyretic action of other alkaloids such as quinia; and pepper was once a domestic remedy for ague, which may still be used when the appetite fails.
Some of the constituents of pepper are excreted by the kidney, and probably by the intestinal mucous membranes, and act as remote local stimulants of the circulation and nutrition in the urethra and rectum. Pepper is occasionally used in gleet; but much more extensively for haemorrhoids and other diseases of the rectum.