Herbs and spices have long been used as natural therapies, including black pepper, a common staple at any dinner table. But did you know this simple spice can take your wellness routine to a new level?
Black pepper extract, also known as piperine (or registered under the trademark BioPerine), has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of a wide range of dietary supplements. This natural compound is derived from the black pepper fruit (piper nigrum) and is known for its ability to increase the bioavailability of various nutrients and compounds. In this article, we will explore the science behind how black pepper extract works and how it can make supplements more effective.
What does bioavailability mean?
To understand how black pepper extract works, we first need to define what bioavailability is. According to food science, bioavailability is the amount of a nutrient or compound that is available for absorption and use by the body. Some nutrients and compounds are more bioavailable than others, meaning that they are more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Factors such as the form of the nutrient or compound, the food matrix it is contained in, and the individual's digestive system can all affect bioavailability. 
How does black pepper extract work?
Black pepper extract works by inhibiting certain enzymes in the liver and intestines that break down and eliminate nutrients and compounds before they can be fully absorbed by the body. Specifically, piperine inhibits the activity of enzymes such as CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein, which are responsible for breaking down and eliminating many compounds from the body. By inhibiting these enzymes, piperine can increase the bioavailability of many nutrients and compounds, allowing them to be more effectively absorbed and utilized by the body. 
One nutrient that black pepper extract has been shown to enhance the bioavailability of is curcumin, the active compound in turmeric. Curcumin has been widely studied for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but its bioavailability is relatively low due to its poor solubility and rapid metabolism. However, studies have shown that combining curcumin/turmeric and black pepper extract can increase its bioavailability significantly. 
For example, a study published in Planta Medica found that when 20 mg of piperine was added to 2 grams of curcumin, the bioavailability of curcumin was increased by an incredible 2,000% after oral administration! This means that the body was able to absorb and utilize more of the curcumin than it would have been able to without the piperine. Other clinical research has also demonstrated the ability of piperine to enhance the bioavailability of other compounds, including resveratrol, EGCG, and beta-carotene.    
Additional health benefits of black pepper
In addition to increasing the bioavailability of nutrients and compounds, black pepper extract may also have its own health benefits.
Piperine can act as a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound, helping to fight free radicals and oxidative stress. 
- It may also act as a fat burner by enhancing energy expenditure. 
In traditional medicine paradigms like Ayurveda, an important benefit of black pepper includes enhanced digestion and gut health.
It may support cardiovascular health and lower the risk of heart disease by helping to improve cholesterol levels and promoting a healthier inflammatory response.  
Animal studies suggest that piperine has promising results for supporting brain health. Particularly in symptoms relating to neurodegenerative health conditions like Alzheimers disease. 
It may improve blood sugar control, as seen by results from both animal and human clinical trials. 
However, further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these effects and how they may be beneficial for human health since most findings are derived from in vitro or animal studies.
Safety & interactions
It is important to note that while black pepper extract can enhance the bioavailability of many nutrients and compounds, certain medications may have drug interactions with black pepper.
Piperine has been shown to inhibit the activity of drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver, which can lead to increased levels of certain medications in the body. This can potentially cause harmful side effects and should be discussed with a healthcare professional before taking black pepper extract supplements if you’re currently on any medication.
A brief history of black pepper
Black pepper has a long and fascinating history that stretches back thousands of years. The spice is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, where it was used as a form of currency and traded along ancient spice routes.
By the 4th century BC, black pepper had become an important commodity in the trade between India and the Western world. In the Middle Ages, it was so highly valued that it was often used as a form of currency, and was even used to pay taxes and rent.
During the Age of Exploration, Europeans ventured further east in search of spices like black pepper, leading to the establishment of trade routes and the colonization of new territories.
In conclusion, black pepper extract (piper nigrum) has been shown to enhance the effectiveness of dietary supplements by increasing the bioavailability, resulting in enhanced nutrient absorption.
By inhibiting certain enzymes in the liver and intestines, piperine can allow more of these substances to be absorbed and utilized by the body making it one of the most important active ingredients in many nutritional and herbal supplements. That’s why it’s included in NutriRise Ashwagandha, Irish Sea Moss Complex, DIM Complex, and Men’s Vitality.
Overall, incorporating black pepper extract into supplement regimens may be a simple and effective way to increase the bioavailability and overall effectiveness of various nutrients and compounds!
Note: This article is for informational purposes only and not intended for use as medical advice to treat cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your health care provider before starting any dietary supplement.