Is Black Pepper Bad For You? 7 Possible Side Effects

Medically reviewed by Neelanjana Singh, Nutrition Therapist & Wellness Consultant
Written by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Black pepper is an ancient remedy used to treat several health disorders. It is native to India and is popularly used to add flavor to various dishes.

But we must be cautious of the amount of black pepper we consume as too much of it can have some severe health complications, including gastric troubles (1).

In this post, we have discussed the possible side effects of black pepper.

What Are The Side Effects Of Black Pepper?

1. Can Cause Gastrointestinal Issues

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Studies show that black pepper may cause gastric mucosal injury (1). A subject administered with black pepper showed symptoms of gastric bleeding. The study concludes by stating that the long-term safety of spices (including black pepper) needs further study.

The piperine in black pepper (which is also one of its most beneficial compounds) can leave a sharp, ‘burning’ aftertaste (2). Though this is just a characteristic of black pepper, consuming it in excess can leave a similar burning sensation in your throat and stomach.

2. May Cause Your Body To Over Absorb Certain Drugs

Black pepper promotes the absorption of certain drugs. These include those that boost hepatic metabolism and antihistamines that fight allergies (3), (4).

Piperine plays the role of a bioenhancer in drug absorption (5). Though this could be beneficial if a medication is poorly absorbed, it may also lead the over absorption of certain medications to dangerously high levels.

3. May Interact With Certain Drugs

The piperine in black pepper can interact with certain coadministered drugs. Though this may lead to benefits in some cases, it can also cause adverse effects (6). This is because piperine can inhibit or stimulate the activity of certain metabolic enzymes and transporters.

Piperine was also found to inhibit the metabolism of carbamazepine (medication used for epilepsy) (7).

The compound also inhibits the activity of CYP3A, an important body enzyme that plays a role in the removal of toxins in the body (8). This attribute of black pepper might lead to the accumulation of harmful toxins in the body.

4. May Affect Pregnancy


The scientific community recommends against the use of black pepper during pregnancy. Its pungency can cause a burning sensation to the body of the infant (9).

In a female mice study, the piperine in black pepper was found to interfere with several reproductive events (10). It also decreased the mating performance and fertility in the mice.

The piperine in long pepper (a different variant of black pepper) was found to inhibit pregnancy by 80% in studies conducted on female rats. The compound may exhibit contraceptive activity, and research recommends against its use during pregnancy and lactation (11).

Piperine might also inhibit uterine contractions in women (12). This can cause issues during delivery or pregnancy.

5. May Affect Male Fertility

Piperine may affect male fertility as well. In a rat study, the compound was found to damage sperm (13). It increased the concentration of harmful radicals in the epididymis (a duct in the male reproductive system where sperm is stored).

6. May Cause Skin Redness

There is limited research on this aspect. A study states that cosmoperine, a compound isolated from black pepper, causes skin reddening due to vascular engorgement (when the vascular tissue fills with blood and other fluids). This is also accompanied by a skin tingling sensation (14).

7. Can Make You Sneeze


This may not be a serious side effect, but it is important to be aware of it. The piperine in black pepper is an irritant. Inhaling the smell of black pepper can irritate the nerve endings in the nasal mucous membrane (15). This causes you to sneeze as the nose wants to excrete the irritant.

Black pepper could be a popular and common ingredient in most dishes. But it is important we know when not to have it – as some of its side effects can be severe.

Before we wrap up, we would like to discuss the ideal dosage of black pepper. That way, you can be careful in preventing the side effects.

What Is The Safe Dosage Of Black Pepper?

There is no official recommendation on the dosage for piperine. But piperine constitutes 0.4% to 7% of black pepper (16). This means, to take 1 full gram of piperine, you need to consume about six teaspoons of black pepper. This is highly unlikely.

Hence, stick to using black pepper only in normal food amounts.


Black pepper is healthy. Though overindulging in it is unlikely (given its pungent flavor), it can cause problems. Hence, stick to normal food amounts.

Pregnant or lactating women and anyone with gastrointestinal or fertility issues must stay away from black pepper. We also recommend them to consult their doctor.

Any other adverse effect of black pepper you think we have missed? Do let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.

Reviewer’s Comments: Black pepper is rich in the compound called piperine, which is responsible for tingling your taste buds and making you sneeze. Black pepper, in amounts usually needed for cooking, can be consumed without the side effects. It is only when it is used in large doses or as supplements in the form of its active compound piperine that one needs to be cautious.


  1. Effect of red pepper and black pepper on the stomach.” The American Journal of Gastroenterology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  2. Effects of piperine, the pungent component of black pepper, at the human vanilloid receptor (TRPV1)” British Journal of Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  3. The effects of black pepper on the intestinal absorption and hepatic metabolism of drugs.” Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  4. Effect of piperine, a major component of black pepper, on the intestinal absorption of fexofenadine and its implication on food-drug interaction.” Journal of Food Science, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  5. Role of Piperine as an Effective Bioenhancer in Drug Absorption” Pharmaceutica Analytica Acta.
  6. Piperine-mediated drug interactions and formulation strategy for piperine: recent advances and future perspectives” Expert Opinion on Drug Metabolism & Toxicology.
  7. Time-dependent inhibition of carbamazepine metabolism by piperine inanti-epileptic treatment” Life Sciences.
  8. The effect of piperine on midazolam plasma concentration in healthy volunteers, a research on the CYP3A-involving metabolism” DARU Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
  9. Nutritional Constituent of Black Pepper as Medicinal Molecules: A Review” Open Access Scientific Reports.
  10. Reproductive toxicity of piperine in Swiss albino mice.” Planta Medica, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  11. Overview for Various Aspects of the Health Benefits of Piper Longum Linn. Fruit” Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, ScienceDirect.
  12. Postcoital antifertility effect of piperine.” Contraception, US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.
  13. Effect of piperine on the epididymis of adult male rats” Asian Journal of Andrology, Wiley Online Library.
  14. Biological role of Piper nigrum L. (Black pepper): A review” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
  15. Why does pepper make you sneeze?” Everyday Mysteries, The Library of Congress.
  16. Piperine—The Bioactive Compound of Black Pepper: From Isolation to Medicinal Formulations” Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Wiley Online Library.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.