At first glance, black pepper and cannabis might not seem connected. One is known for spicing up your meals, while the other is famous for its effects on the body. But surprise! They’re more alike than you’d guess. Both contain something called cannabinoids, which are molecules that work with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

Before you think about smoking black pepper, know it won’t make you feel high. Instead, a compound in black pepper can actually help reduce the high from cannabis. This can be useful if you take too much or if you want to stay focused while using cannabis during your daily activities.

We’ll take a closer look at this connection below.

What is black pepper?

Many folks know black pepper as a spice that, along with salt, gives a tasty kick to lots of different savory dishes. The little round bits we put in pepper mills come from a plant called Piper nigrum.

Piper nigrum grows in southern India and is part of the Piperaceae family. It’s a vine with big leaves and small, slender flowers that eventually turn into pepper-like fruits. After they’re dried, these tiny spice pieces end up in almost every kitchen cabinet, ready to sprinkle over our food.

For ages, people have used black pepper to add flavor to meals and as a natural remedy. In ancient Indian medicine, like Ayurveda, black pepper is known as the “king of spices”. It’s thought to have a sharp taste that helps kickstart digestion.

Why Black Pepper Is Beneficial

Black pepper isn’t just about adding flavor; it also brings some good stuff to the table. Here are a few reasons why you might want to sprinkle some ground pepper into your meals:

Potential of Black Pepper in Conjunction with Cannabis


Black pepper is loaded with antioxidants. These special molecules travel through your bloodstream and help neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radicals can mess with your DNA by causing oxidation, but antioxidants swoop in to save the day by preventing this damage.


Ground black pepper has a soothing effect on the gut and can encourage the growth of good bacteria. These helpful little critters play a big role in helping us digest our food effectively.


We’re all aware of the dangers of having too much cholesterol, especially the “bad” kind called LDL. Black pepper can actually help lower cholesterol levels, including LDL, which is great for keeping your heart healthy.

Stimulates digestion

Just like the ancient Ayurvedic experts said long ago, black pepper is now thought to boost digestion. It also improves the absorption of other good stuff found in turmeric and green tea. So, adding a dash of black pepper to your turmeric or green tea could make those healthy benefits even better!


Adding ground pepper to your meals might bring a smile to your neurons. In studies using mice with induced neurotoxicity, black pepper showed promise in potentially enhancing memory. This makes it an intriguing topic for further exploration in future research.

The science behind terpenes

Terpenes are natural compounds found in plants that give off distinct smells. You’ve probably noticed them when you peel an orange or stroll through a pine forest. There are thousands of terpenes in nature, and around 200 are found in the tiny hair-like structures called trichomes on cannabis plants.

In plants, terpenes aren’t essential for growth or reproduction. But they do important tasks like repelling pests, attracting helpful creatures, and shielding against tough conditions like extreme heat.

When it comes to cannabis, terpenes are key players in the different effects of various strains. These fragrant molecules team up with cannabinoids like THC and CBD are known as entourage effect, making their effects stronger. Plus, terpenes have effects of their own. For instance, myrcene can help you chill out, while limonene can give you a boost of energy.

What is beta-caryophyllene?

Beta-caryophyllene is a compound found in plants that acts like a cannabinoid when humans consume it. It binds to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, just like THC, CBD, and other molecules do.

Cannabinoids have a structure similar to natural cannabinoids our bodies produce, like anandamide. This similarity lets them activate, block, or lower the activity of cannabinoid receptors. Many cannabinoids work this way. For instance, THC affects us by binding to the CB1 receptor and making it more active, while CBD works by blocking that same receptor.

Beta-caryophyllene got its status as a cannabinoid because it can bind to the CB2 receptor and ramp up its activity. This unique ability gives it special effects. Interestingly, beta-caryophyllene is the most common terpene found in cannabis extracts. It’s also found in other foods like hops, cinnamon, cloves, and rosemary, which is why scientists sometimes call it a “food cannabinoid.”

Apart from its own effects on the endocannabinoid system, black pepper seems to change how other cannabinoids work in the body. It might especially tweak the effects of THC. When beta-caryophyllene binds to the CB2 receptor, it has a calming effect. So, in a way, beta-caryophyllene is similar to CBD in how it can tone down the mind-altering effects of THC.

For years, folks in the cannabis community have turned to chewing black pepper when they’re in the midst of a panic attack caused by cannabis. Now, science is starting to back up this practice. By tweaking the endocannabinoid system through a different receptor, beta-caryophyllene can actually help calm the mind.

Moderation Matters, Even with Cannabis

Using this terpene from pepper can be helpful if you’ve had too much cannabis. But if you’re experiencing uncomfortable side effects from cannabis, it might be time to think about how often you’re using it. It’s important to find a balance among things and not overdo it. If you feel like you’ve gone too far, taking a break could be a good idea. When you come back to it later, those negative effects probably won’t come back as strongly. And if you’re ever feeling overwhelmed by the effects of cannabis, consider trying varieties that are loaded with black pepper or beta-caryophyllene.