(NaturalNews) Putting black pepper on your food may be one of the easiest, most economical ways to boost your overall health status. Piperine, the main alkaloid from black pepper has been shown to substantially increase the bioavailability of the nutrients in foods and supplements. As the quality of food declines and the costs of food and supplements continue to skyrocket, it is increasingly important to your health that the nutrients you consume are able to be used to maximum efficiency by your body.
What is piperine?
Piperine is a pungent compound found in the fruit of the plants in the Piperaceae family, the most famous member of which is Piper nigrum, black pepper. It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as a restorative and treatment.
Piperine is able to increase bioavilability of many substances through a number of mechanisms. It inhibits several enzymes responsible for metabolizing nutritional substances, stimulates amino-acid transporters in the intestinal lining, inhibits removal of substances from cells so they continue to be available for use, and decreases the intestinal activity allowing more of the substances to enter the body in active form. The results of these actions are that substances reach, enter and remain within their target cells for longer periods of time than would normally be the case.
Piperine can turn a marginally effective therapeutic substance into a highly effective one by increasing its bioavailability and intracellular residency time. As an example, piperine can increase the bioavailability of the cancer, inflammation and infection fighter, curcumin, by twenty-fold.
Piperine favorably simulates the digestive enzymes of the pancreas, enhances digestive capacity and significantly reduces gastrointestinal food transit time. Black pepper or piperine treatment has also been evidenced to lower lipid peroxidation in vivo and beneficially influence the cellular status of organic sulfur compounds, antioxidant molecules, and antioxidant enzymes in a number of experimental situations of oxidative stress.
In addition to its effects on bioavilability, piperine has many other actions in the body that include increasing beta-endorphins in the brain, acting as an anti-depressant, increasing serotonin production, boosting brain functioning, stimulating adrenal production, relieving pain and asthma symptoms, stimulating melanin production, decreasing ulcerations of the stomach, reducing stomach acid production, and coordinating digestive tract contractions. It is highly effective against colon cancer.
New research is documenting the many health benefits of piperine
The journal Biometals reports a study involving cadmium, a well known environmental carcinogen and immuno-toxicant that is characterized by marked atrophy of the thymus and spleen enlargement. Cadmium induces death in lymphocytes and alters immune functions. Researchers tested the ameliorative effects to cadmium damage using piperine, picroliv-glycosides, and curcumin polyphenols. They found that of the three herbals, piperine displayed maximum efficacy. All the examined doses of piperine increased cell viability in a dose dependent manner. Restoration of cell damage such as cytotoxicity, oxidative stress and phosphatidylserine externalization was potentiated with piperine. T and B cell phenotypes and cytokine release were also mitigated best with piperine, rendering piperine the compound of choice under immuno-compromised conditions.
In a study reported in the September edition of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology the effect of various doses of piperine was determined. Results showed that piperine at all dosage ranges used in the study possessed anti-depression like activity and cognitive enhancing effects at all treatment durations. Researchers determined that piperine is a functional food that improves brain functioning.
The medicinal properties of various compounds such as curcumin cannot be well utilized because of poor bioavailability due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal wall. In an older study reported in Planta Medica, the effect of combining piperine, a known inhibitor of hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation, was evaluated to determine the bioavailability of curcumin in rats and healthy human volunteers. When curcumin was given alone to the rats, moderate serum concentrations were achieved over a period of 4 hours. When piperine was added with the curcumin, the serum concentration of curcumin increased for a 1-2 hour period. Time to maximum concentration was significantly increased while elimination half life and clearance significantly decreased. The bioavailability was increased by 154%. When curcumin was given alone to humans, serum levels were either undetectable or very low. Addition of piperine produced much higher concentrations from 0.25 to 1 hour following administration. The bioavailability of curcumin when taken with piperine increased 2000%.
A study reported in the September issue of Phychopharmacology was designed to investigate the involvement of monoaminergic systems in the antidepressant activity of curcumin and the effect of piperine as a bioenhancer to the biological effects of curcumin. The researchers found that the enhanced curcumin dose dependently inhibited the immobility period, increased serotonin, and inhibited the monoamine oxidase enzymes. The compound also enhanced the anti-immobility effect of sub-threshold doses of various antidepressant drugs like fluoxetine, venlafaxine, or bupropion. The combination of sub-threshold dose of enhanced curcumin and various antidepressant drugs resulted in synergistic increase in serotonin levels. The co-administration of piperine with curcumin resulted in potentiation of pharmacological, biochemical, and neurochemical activities. They concluded that the curcumin, piperine combination proved to be a useful and potent natural antidepressant.
The summer issue of Clinical Laboratory Science reports a study to determine if resveratrol from red grapes, cinnamaldehyde from cinnamon, and piperine from black pepper have anti-proliferative effects on colon cancer. Quantitative effects of each phytochemical on concentration responses and time courses of proliferation of cultured human colon cancer cells were assessed. The results showed the phytochemicals each displayed anti-proliferative effects. Piperine displayed a trend toward anti-proliferation at 24 hours and statistically significant inhibition at 48 and 72 hours. Researchers concluded that all three compounds offer significant anti-proliferative effects on human colon cancer cells and provide protective effects against colon cancer.
Piperine is generally consumed as a component of black pepper. Adding black pepper to cooked foods, raw foods, and fresh juices is a good way to increase nutrient absorption. Black pepper spices up almost all foods, even snacks like popcorn. It can be added to the Budwig protocol used as a preventative and cure for cancer. It is natural that the foods and the compound that makes their nutrients so highly available go so well together.
For those with an aversion to black pepper, piperine can be bought as a supplement called Bioperine. Source Naturals Bioperine is available at Lucky Vitamin. Swanson Vitamin sells a house brand of Bioperine. There are multi-vitamins on the market that contain Bioperine as well as Curcumin supplements with Bioperine added. Supplemental piperine should be taken along with meals and supplements for maximum benefit.
"Piperine Report", Cochran Foundation of Medical Research.
Russell Mills, "Piperine Multiplies the Strength of Many Supplements and Drugs", The Delano Report.
About the author
Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.