Red Hot Peppers
The Jewish people have used spicy hot Long Pepper (Piper Longum) for thousands of years. This is a spice closely related to popular black pepper.
It is not a popular spice in the kitchen. However, it is popular in alternative medicine. Alternative medical specialists state that it is useful for digestion, coughs, inflammations of the nose, throat, larynx and bronchi, constipation, colic, dyspepsia, diarrhea, as well as toothaches.
Our Rabbis of Blessed Memory have said that almost every substance is good for one and damaging to the other except for several items including long peppers that are healthy for the entire body. (Pesachim 42b Also see Ginger www.milknhoney.co.il/culinaryjudaism/ginger.html )
Elsewhere they said, “For a stomache ache one should get 300 long Peppers. Each day he should drink 100 of them in wine.” (Gitin 69b)
A popular expression of Jews in Babylonia was, “A single hot Pepper seed is worth more than a basket full of gourd.” The gourd signifies a long drawn out discussion that missed the mark. (Megilah 7a, and Chagiga 10a and several others)
On the same page of Masechet Megilah is another discussion regarding Spicy hot long peppers. On Purim we send food items to each other. Rabah was of a poor background and was still poor after being recognized as a Torah giant. He sent with Abaye to Mareh Bar Mar a basket with a leg of lamb and a cup of oven sweetened wheat. According to Maharsh”a these were simple gifts. To this Abaye in the name of Mareh bar Mar responded by saying another popular Aramaic expression, “When a peasant becomes king he eternally leaves the basket tied around his neck.” Abaye then sent a Basket full of ginger and another cup full of pepper. To this, Rabah responded by saying yet another popular expression, “I sent you sweet things and you sent me hot things!” (Megila 7b and Yalkut Shimoni Esther 1159)
Sefer Haminhagot was written in Provence France during the 12th and 13th Century by Rabbi Asher ben Saul of Lunel. He cites from unknown medical sources a precise description that helped me to confirm that The Long Pepper of the Talmud corresponds to what we call Long Pepper. He states that it is like a cluster of grapes but it is hard like wood. Every dot on it is like a chicken egg. In the beginning they are tiny and then they get larger. They are also like a grape seed. Inside each is like round pepper. Sometimes each shell has about 6 peppers.
Please refer to your physician before using these as medicine.