Extract of black pepper (Piper nigrum) to maximise absorption of nutrients from food
Weâ€™re all familiar with the hotness of black pepper: it is due to the biological activity of several active compounds, in particular piperine.
Piperine is an alkaloid used for more than 20 years to maximise the bioavailability of nutrients. Black pepper is one of three essential natural ingredients used in the majority of Ayurvedic formulations.
It can increase absorption of selenium and vitamin C by up to 42% and 50% respectively. Below are just some of the many micronutrients where absorption can be improved by piperine:
Its effects are due to three distinct mechanisms of action:
In addition to optimising bioavailability, piperine also offersdigestive benefits: it stimulates appetite and facilitates digestion (by increasing the activity of salivary amylase and trypsin, an enzyme in pancreatic juice which helps â€˜breakâ€™ proteins (7)).
Piperine also helps increase the bioavailability of certain drugs such as ibuprofen (8). It therefore should not be taken at the same time as medication.
Black pepper is a climbing vine that grows in forest habitats and equatorial climates: it can only be cultivated between the latitudes 15 degrees north and 15 degrees south.
Black pepper is picked when the berries (or drupes) start to turn red: it is at this stage that the amount of essential oil is at its peak. They are then deseeded, dried in the sun till the berries go black, then plunged into boiling water for several minutes. The heat ruptures the peppersâ€™ cell walls and releases heat-resistant enzymes. The drupes are then dried in the open air before the outer coating is removed.
In the case of Bioperine, the piperine content is then increased so that it makes up around 95% of the natural black pepper extract.
Itâ€™s worth noting that while piperine can be synthesised in the laboratory using an enzyme called piperotransferase, Bioperine contains natural piperine extracts from black pepper drupes, unlike many piperine supplements on the market.
Piperine potentiates the bioavailability of many supplements, but it is curcumin supplements, known for their powerful anti-inflammatory effects, that most benefit from being combined with Bioperine.
Curcuminâ€™s bioavailability is actually very low because it is quickly metabolised in the liver. Thus taking 2g of curcumin will only produce a very slight increase in plasma concentrations. However, taking piperine at the same time produces a clear increase in curcumin levels, in the region of 2000%, within around 30 minutes of ingestion (6).
The mechanism responsible is inhibition of glucurono-conjugation: this slows down the breakdown of curcumin by the liver, considerably expanding its window of absorption.
1. Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.
2. Majeed M, Vaidyanathan P et al. An Evaluation of Bioavailability Enhancement of Organic Elemental Iron with BioPerineÂ® in Rabbits, Human Journals March 2016 Vol.:5, Issue:4
3. Johnson J, Nihal M et al. Enhancing the bioavailability of resveratrol by combining it with piperine, Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 August ; 55(8): 1169–1176. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201100117.
4. Bhardwaj RK, Glaeser H, Becquemont L, Klotz U, Gupta SK, Fromm MF. Piperine, a major constituent of black pepper, inhibits human P-glycoprotein and CYP3A4. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Aug;302(2):645-50.
5. Singh J, Dubey RK, Atal CK. Piperine-mediated inhibition of glucuronidation activity in isolated epithelial cells of the guinea-pig small intestine: evidence that piperine lowers the endogeneous UDP-glucuronic acid content. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1986 Feb;236(2):488-93.
6. Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.
7. Pruthi, J.S. (1980). Adv. Food Res., 4: 18-25
8. Venkatesh S, Durga KD, Padmavathi Y, et al. (2011) Influence of piperine on ibuprofen induced antinociception and its pharmacokinetics. Arzneimittelforschung 61(9): 506–9
|Daily serving: 3 capsules
Number of servings per bottle: 30
|Quantity per serving|
|Black pepper extract (Piper nigrum) standardised to 95% piperin||30 mg|
|Other ingredients: Acacia gum, rice bran.
Bioperine® - Sabinsa Corporation.
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