Black pepper is a common universal spice. It’s the companion of salt on just about every restaurant table and many at-home dining tables as well. Most of us tend to reach for the salt. But if we compared the nutritional value of both condiments, black pepper would win the prize. No wonder it’s titled “the king of spices.” Aware of the healing potential of its powerful nutrients, countries like India and China have long used black pepper in their traditional medicinal practices (x). Modern research continues to support those claims. They are proving that the bioactive constituent piperine or black pepper extract, which is processed and sold as a supplement, may provide excellent health benefits (x).
What is Black Pepper Extract?
Black pepper extract comes from the dried immature fruits or berries of the black pepper shrub, scientifically known as Piper nigrum L. or P. nigrum. It is a member of the Piperaceae plant family, native to Kerala, a state in Southern India. The dried berries are also used to make whole peppercorns and the grounded spice (x), (x).
The flavor and pungency or heat sensation of black pepper comes from piperine. It’s also the reason for its use in food, alcohol, perfumes and worldwide traditional medicinal modalities, including Ayurveda (x), (x). Danish physicist and chemist Hans Christian Orsted was first to isolate this bioactive, yellow alkaloid in 1819 (x).
What are the Benefits of Black Pepper Extract?
What is black pepper extract used for? Piperine has a number of potential health benefits, including bio-enhancement, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-depression and antimicrobial, activities and properties which help to control cognitive conditions, diabetes, obesity and other chronic ailments (x). Always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information and permission before taking any supplements.
Research studies have shown black pepper extract’s bio-enhancement or bioavailability: ability to stimulate our digestive tract’s (specifically intestines) absorption of nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, phytocompounds as well as therapeutic medicines.
Sometimes, the liver allows complete excretion of these substances, leaving the body deficient and vulnerable to diseases. The addition of black pepper extract in one’s diet seem to prevent this from happening. Studies have recorded more than usual absorption of vitamins A, C, B6, selenium, coenzyme Q10, beta-carotene, curcumin/ turmeric, antibiotic and blood glucose control drugs when piperine is added. Thoughts are this process could also benefit people suffering from malnutrition or nutrient-absorption issues (x), (x), (x), (x).
Turmeric with Black Pepper Extract
Like black pepper, turmeric is indigenous to India. It’s the rhizome of a perennial plant scientifically called Curcuma longa and it belongs to the Zingiberaceae or ginger family. The rhizome root turns a rich, deep yellow color when dried, that is usually imparted to food or anything it encounters (x).
The “golden spice” or “golden spice of life” as turmeric is called, has also been used in Ayurveda medicine for thousands of years. Research suggests its nutrients offer an array of human health benefits such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticancer. It may even treat or prevent cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease (x), (x). Research also indicates that when turmeric is teamed with black pepper extract, its health benefits increases. The black pepper extract helps turmeric to move directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the liver, which can make it water-soluble for easy passage out of the body, preventing us from receiving its great benefits (x), (x), (x).
Curcumin with Black Pepper Extract
Curcumin and its derivatives, sometimes labeled as turmeric, are some of the main phenolic compounds in turmeric. They give the dried rhizome its color and flavor. Studies indicate that they may also be the reason for the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial and immune-enhancing properties (x).
Our digestive system seems incapable of absorbing curcumin well. When combined with black pepper extract, it significantly improves absorption, and we’re likely to reap those important health benefits (x), (x), (x).
Can black pepper extract help our immune system? The function of our immune system is to protect our bodies from foreign entities such as viruses and bacteria. But as every other system or organ, it can malfunction. The cause may be illness, injury, gene defect or environmental factors. Regardless, studies on animals demonstrate black pepper extract’s ability to trigger the immune system’s acute inflammatory response, which protects us from harm (x), (x).
Chronic inflammation creates health issues. One of the main symptoms of arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis, is inflammation. A study conducted on rheumatoid-induced rats suggested that black pepper extract prevented painful and inflammatory conditions. The animals were given oral doses of piperine for eight days. At the end of this trial period, they showed marked improvement (x). Other studies have produced similar results (x).
Black pepper extract or piperine has also been used in research on ulcerative colitis. The condition refers to inflammation and ulcer of the colon and rectum. It is also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD-induced rats that were fed piperine showed that its anti-inflammatory property may be an effective form of treatment (x).
Can black pepper extract inhibit the growth of cancer cells? Research show it can. Its antioxidant and antimutagenic abilities seem capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Studies indicate that piperine can prevent lung cancer from metastasizing, inhibit growth of prostate cancer cells in mice and block the production of new blood cells or angiogenesis induced by breast cancer cells (x), (x).
Studies conducted on rats, mice and humans reveal that black pepper extract may increase the neuro activity of serotonin and dopamine, two chemicals or neurotransmitters that involved in controlling our moods, including depression and anxiety. When combined with other nutrients or bioenhancers like resveratrol, piperine seemed to activate the neurotransmitters’ defense against the depressive responses resulting from oxidative stress and/ or inflammatory conditions (x), (x), (x).
Black pepper extract has the potential to increase brain function, including concentration and memory due to its antioxidative nature. It may also slow the onset of or inhibit cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by encouraging the production of enzymes that promote cell communication (neurotransmission) (x), (x).
Help for Diabetics
Properties of black pepper extract seems able to control blood glucose and cholesterol levels, which is good news for diabetics.
Blood Sugar Control
When the effects of black pepper extract on diabetic-induced albino mice were studied, low piperine dosages seemed to significantly decrease their blood sugar levels, whereas high doses did the opposite (x). Other rodent studies suggests that piperine may enhance the bioavailability of medicines used to regulate blood glucose levels (x). Human studies on patients with type 2 diabetes also showed decrease in levels, including the group given piperine in combination with curcumin (x).
When rats were given a high-fat diet in one study, those that received black pepper extract in combination, showed a decrease in their blood cholesterol levels, especially the bad LDL cholesterol (x). The results not only offers help to diabetics, but also to individuals with obesity and heart disease issues, which are often intertwined with type 2 diabetes (x).
How can black pepper extract help obesity? When combined with other spices such as curry/ curcumin or hot peppers such as cayenne and chili, black pepper extract has been shown to enhance an individual’s ability to burn more calories due to thermogenesis: increased body heat. The capsaicin compound in hot peppers causes the body to heat up and increase metabolism. The black pepper extract piperine magnifies those actions (x), (x).
Piperine may also break down fat cells, inhibit their formation and reduce the amount of fat in the bloodstream; additional factors that could support weight loss (x).
How to Take Black Pepper Extract
Black pepper extract or piperine is similar to the capsaicin compound, which provides the heat/ burning sensation in the aforementioned hot peppers. Piperine measures about 1, 000, 000 units on the Scoville scale (x). Whereas capsaicin measures 16, 000, 000 units (x). While there isn’t a standard Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended dosage (x), a quantity of 20 mg (milligrams) is suggested for the enhancement of other supplements and compounds (x).
However, individuals should consume black pepper extract cautiously, follow guidelines on the brand labels and always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information and permission before taking any supplements.
What are the Side Effects of Black Pepper Extract?
Black pepper extract is considered mostly safe to consume (x). But the piperine compound can create a burning aftertaste, and some people may exhibit allergic symptoms. Again, always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information and permission before taking any supplements.
Warnings & Safety Precautions
- Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding should definitely avoid taking this supplement, especially in large amounts (x).
- There could also be some drug interactions for example, with blood thinning medications (x).
Black pepper extract or piperine has the potential to provide numerous health benefits, according to research. Studies have shown that it contains anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antimicrobial abilities, along with its bioavailability quality, which may boost the absorption of certain nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and phytocompounds by our digestive system.
This works particularly well with compounds such as curcumin/ turmeric, which provides their own excellent health benefits. Piperine may also enhance the absorption of certain medications. Since there are no FDA/ standard dosage for the consuming black pepper extract supplements, always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information and permission before ingesting any product.