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Black Pepper

Black Pepper is a source of piperine, a molecule that does not do much on its own but can inhibit enzymes that would attack other molecules. Due to this, it is ingested alongside some supplements to increase their absorption rates and is almost always consumed with curcumin.

Our evidence-based analysis on black pepper features 9 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by Kamal Patel .
Reviewed by
Examine.com Team
Last Updated:

Summary of Black Pepper

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Black Pepper is a spice commonly used in many areas of the world for flavor. Through its active component Piperine, Black Pepper is able to modify supplement and drug metabolism.

A process in the liver called glucuronidation, which attaches a molecule (glucuronide) to drugs to signal for their urinary excretion, is inhibited with piperine. This process prevents excessive levels of drugs and supplements in the body, but sometimes inhibits all uptake and renders some supplements useless. In the scenario of piperine ingestion, excretion of supplements is hindered and certain drugs and supplements can bypass this regulatory stage (as not all are subject to it).

This is good in some cases, as Piperine is required to give curcumin to the extremities rather than it getting consumed by glucuronidation in the liver. However, in some other cases it can lead to elevated levels of certain drugs in the blood. Again, elevated could be good or bad depending on context; regardless, caution should be taken when approaching this compound.

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Things To Know & Note

Is a Form Of

Also Known As

Piper Nigrum, Piperaceae, Piperine

Do Not Confuse With

Red Pepper, Capsaicinoids

Goes Well With

(Note: Synergistic in this sense means that the inhibition of glucuronidation results in an effect which is typically seen as favorable)

  • Piperine inhibits drug detoxifying enzymes. This typically increases bioavailability of any compound which would normally be attacked by said enzymes. This can be good (ie. curcumin, EGCG) or it can be bad by stopping a protective measure against toxic xenobiotics.

How to Take Black Pepper

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

The usage of black pepper extract for the purpose of enhancing the absorption of other supplements that are glucuronidated (for example, curcumin) tends to call for 20mg of the bioactive piperine.

Research Breakdown on Black Pepper

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Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum) is a common spice and herb used historically for various diseases related to gastrointesinal disorder and dental or oral dysfunction.[1] It is most commonly known in the supplemental realm for its piperine content, but also contains pellitorine, guineensine, pipnoohine, trichostachine, and piperonal.[1]

Piperine is known for changing metabolism of various drugs and supplements, most notably increasing curcumin bioavailability by 2000%.[2] It affects metabolism by both intestinal absorption as well as downregulating or inhibiting phase II detoxification enzymes and the glucuronidation process in the liver.[3] It may also contribute to increase absorption by slowing intestinal transit rate and thus prolonging the time said compounds are exposed to the potential uptake.[4]

Piperine is able to slow both gastric emptying and intestinal transit at doses of 1mg/kg-1.3mg/kg bodyweight.[4] In higher doses, it can induce gastric acid secretion possibly via agonism of gastric histamine H2 receptors.[5]

There exist preliminary evidence that black pepper as a food substance poses carcinogenic effects via some procarcingenic constituents such as safrole and tannins, and some terpene compounds. These procarcinogenic effects were noted with topical application.[6]: Evidence of carcinogenicity]. These effects, however, were not noted with oral ingestion[7] despite rodent hypersensitivity to piperine.[8]

It is generally recognized as safe for human consumption.[9]