Piperine is the chemical that makes black pepper spicy. It may prevent inflammation and oxidative stress and holds promise in the treatment of diseases as diverse as diabetes, epilepsy, vitiligo, and Parkinson’s. It may also increase metabolism and weight loss, improve cholesterol , enhance brain function, and reduce pain . Read on to learn about the many benefits of piperine. What Is Black Pepper?
Black pepper is the most widely used spice in the world.
Long before scientific research explained how it worked, black pepper was used as a folk medicine to treat a variety of conditions and diseases, including rheumatism , influenza, muscle pains , chills, fevers, migraines , and digestive problems . It was also used to enhance blood circulation and stimulate appetite [ 1 ].
Piperine is the active ingredient in black pepper and is responsible for a lot of its effects. It is what gives pepper its spicy, pungent taste [ 2 , 3 ].
In pure form, it is a white or light yellow crystal powder. It tastes similar to pepper and accounts for 98% of the alkaloids found in black pepper [ 4 , 3 ].
It is also classified as a cinnamamide. These are chemicals that have sedative, anticonvulsant, and antidepressant properties [ 5 ].
Piperine has numerous potential health benefits . It may protect against inflammation, improve cognitive function, mood , allergies, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure.
It is also an antioxidant and may improve the bioavailability of many other drugs and supplements. This means our bodies can make use of them more effectively. Mechanism of Action
Piperine has many potential effects on the body. These include: Decreasing inflammation . It may reduce the levels of cytokines that promote inflammation ( IL-1b , TNF-α , and PGE2 ) and increase the levels of cytokines that reduce inflammation ( IL-10 ) [ 6 ].
Increasing bioavailability of many drugs and supplements . By inhibiting the detox enzymes that break down drugs (such as CYP3A4 ) and increasing drug/substance absorption in the gut, piperine may increase the body’s ability to make effective use of many other compounds [ 7 ].
Acting as an antioxidant . It acts directly as a hydroxyl and superoxide radical scavenger [ 8 ].
Increasing dopamine and serotonin in the brain – this may help improve mood, cognitive function, and fight off neurodegenerative diseases [ 10 , 11 ].
Increasing muscle metabolism by increasing ATPase activity. This may increase the use of energy by the muscles and help in weight loss [ 12 ].
May increase the availability of several drugs and supplements
Potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and sugar- and fat-lowering effects, especially in combination with curcumin
Few mild adverse effects reported
Most clinical trials combined it with 100x higher amounts of curcumin
Most effects have only been tested in animals and cells
High risk of interaction with drugs
Likely Effective for:
Increasing Supplement/Drug Bioavailability
Piperine was identified in 1979 as the first-ever compound ever that enhances the “bioavailability” of other substances [ 13 , 7 ].In other words, piperine increases the ability of the body to use nutrients and drugs [ 14 ].This means that lower or fewer doses of the drug can be used to achieve the same effect. This is very beneficial when it comes to drugs that have unpleasant side effects!Piperine does this by [ 7 ]: stopping the body from breaking down drugs by blocking drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver (such as CYP3A4, CYP2E1 , CYP1 B1 , and CYP1 B2 ) increasing the number of drugs and nutrients absorbed in the gut by stimulating gut transporters For instance, piperine increased the bioavailability of curcumin , a compound found in turmeric, in rats by 154%, and in humans by 2 , 000% [ 15 ].Piperine also increased the blood concentration and persistence of the anti-seizure drug carbamazepine in 2 trials on 32 people, possibly by blocking the enzyme that breaks this drug down (CYP3A4). Similarly, it increased the bioavailability of the muscle relaxant chlorzoxazone in another trial by blocking the enzyme CYP2E1 [ 16 , 17 , 18 ].An herbal extract combining piperine and curcumin increased the bioavailability of the sedative midazolam, the anti-inflammatory flurbiprofen, and the painkiller Tylenol in 8 healthy volunteers [ 19 ].A drug delivery system composed of piperine lipospheres increased the bioavailability of both THC and CBD when compared to the FDA-approved spray Sativex in a small trial on 9 healthy volunteers [ 20 ].All in all, the evidence suggests that piperine increases the bioavailability of many substances. Remember to consult with your doctor if it may be helpful in your case and if you should readjust the dose of any drugs or supplements after starting to take piperine. Insufficient Evidence for: The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies and animal or cell-based research. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of piperine for any of the below-listed uses. Remember to speak with a doctor before taking piperine supplements. Piperine should never be used as a replacement for approved medical therapies.Importantly, all the studies testing piperine alone were done in animals or cells, while those in humans generally used a mix with 100x more curcumin than piperine. More clinical trials testing piperine alone are needed to confirm these preliminary findings. 1) Antioxidant Piperine may protect against oxidative stress by removing free radicals (such as hydroxyl and superoxide) from the body [ 8 ].In a small trial on 20 people with pancreatitis, a combination of curcumin (500 mg) and piperine (5 mg) improved their antioxidant status (lower fat peroxidation and MDA and higher glutathione levels). Combinations with the same proportion of curcumin and piperine also improved antioxidant status in 3 trials on over 100 people with metabolic syndrome, almost 100 people with chronic lung disease, and 40 people with osteoarthritis [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 ].Along with everyday risk factors such as pollutants […]