Black Pepper

Last Updated: September 28, 2022

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.

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Sources and Pharmacology

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]


Enterohepatic Effects

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]


Gastric and Systemic Effects

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]


Safety and toxicity

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]