We all eat black pepper pretty much every day. There are few cuisines that don’t use it as a staple; there are few dishes that don’t use it as a bit of a flavor baseline. And we all know that flavor. The only way to describe it is, well… by saying that it is peppery.
That peppery flavor comes from piperine. It’s a compound found within pepper that has been firmly linked to a broad array of health benefits. We can gain some very profound benefits from taking it.
Piperine is hard to take a lot of at once, though. When do you ever have more than a pinch sprinkled over your dinner? Try going for a few pinches: it will ruin the taste of your meal and likely blow your head off.
Because of this, plenty of people take piperine supplements. In fact, plenty of standard supplements include a form of piperine as a matter of course – you’ll find it listed in many, many formulas.
It is often included in this way as BioPerine, a patented extract made by a company called Sabinsa Corporation. It contains at least 95% piperine. Not only is the dose high, it’s also very bioavailable – your body absorbs it and puts it to use very easily.
But why would you take it? What are the benefits associated with BioPerine?
BioPerine: The Benefits
It increases nutrient absorption
This is the reason you’ll often find BioPerine in other supplements, even those that don’t rely in any way on piperine as an active ingredient. It can make every other ingredient in the formula far more bioavailable – it can ensure that your body can absorb them far more effectively.
It has been shown to be able to do so for a wide range of nutrients and compounds.
It’s quite common to see turmeric in supplements, for example. It’s a great anti-inflammatory in large part because of the curcumin it contains. And if you find turmeric in a supplement, you’ll generally find some form of piperine. This is because piperine can improve curcumin’s absorption into the human body by up to two thousand percent.
If ever you find BioPerine in a supplement’s formula, this will most likely be the reason. It isn’t there for the benefits it offers in itself, though these are quite profound. It will be there to ensure that every other ingredient is far better absorbed, making the whole supplement far more effective.
It can improve your brain function
Plenty of nootropic supplements contain some form of piperine. This is in part to make every other ingredient more bioavailable, as above. However, it can offer several benefits to the brain in and of itself.
For instance, animal studies have shown that piperine can decrease inflammation in the brain, protecting the health of its cells. In one study, mice had been made to suffer with chemically induced Parkinson’s disease. Their symptoms were lessened by piperine use.
Another animal study suggested that piperine extract may also mitigate symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
A third animal study showed that piperine use may improve memory function whilst also protecting the myelin sheath from damage. The myelin sheath is a layer of insulation around the nerve fibers in the brain and spine. Because of this ability, it may represent a form of therapy for multiple sclerosis.
It may protect against cancer
Piperine is an antioxidant. This means it fights the effects of antioxidants, which can lead to the growth and spread of cancerous cells. A diet rich in antioxidants will typically lower anybody’s risk of developing cancer.
Piperine has been studied for its therapeutic effects on several forms of cancer, including colon, breast, and prostate. It may boost the efficacy of various forms of therapy in a medical setting. As a supplement, it may help to diminish your risk of cancer – as above, antioxidants in general will do this.
More research is needed. Most medical research into piperine is based on animal studies. Extensive human trials are needed before we can state anything definitively. However, piperine looks set to work well as a form of cancer therapy and shows promise in warding off cancer in the first place.
Anti-inflammation goes a long way
Anti-inflammatory properties aren’t just good for fighting cancer.
Inflammation itself isn’t too much of a problem. It’s a core part of your normal immune function, helping to ward off sickness and infection. However, inflammation can become chronic, at which point it can become far more serious.
Chronic inflammation can cause your long term health and wellbeing a lot of damage. This is where your risk of cancer comes into it, as above. It can also contribute to other diverse chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
Anything with anti-inflammatory properties will therefore be a good thing. Piperine may be particularly good at keeping chronic inflammation away, however. One study showed that piperine extract can help to protect against UV damage and inflammation, whilst in another it helped to block production of several inflammatory markers across the spinal cord and brain.
It has also been shown to be effective in treating inflammation linked to ongoing health concerns such as asthma and arthritis. The exact mechanisms by which piperine could help humans to overcome inflammation aren’t too well researched, but the data thus far are at least incredibly promising.
It can level out your blood sugar
Piperine, and thus, of course, BioPerine, can be fantastic for your blood. Specifically, it can help to improve the management of your blood sugar levels in a few different ways.
Firstly, it may improve sugar absorption from the blood into your body’s cells. This can lower blood sugar levels, taking sugar out of the blood and directing it to where it may be better utilized. As well as this, animal studies have shown that BioPerine may help to prevent insulin resistance. Insulin resistance damages your ability to properly use insulin to move sugar into your cells from your bloodstream.
It may also improve metformin’s efficacy. Metformin is a common medication used to better manage blood sugar levels.
Taking BioPerine Safely
There are at present no official guidelines around BioPerine use. There is no official guidance on dosage. However, studies suggest that taking around 5–20 mg daily is safe, with few negative side effects, whilst giving you the benefits mentioned above.
In fact, Sabinsa Corporation suggest you take 15 mg each day, spread across three even doses of 5 mg.
You should always talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new supplement, however, and BioPerine is no different. Its benefits are many, but it isn’t suitable for everyone. For instance, it can affect your blood sugar levels. Whilst this is good for most people, it may be dangerous when combined with certain diabetes treatments.
If you’re taking any medications, BioPerine’s ability to improve their absorption can be a bit of a blessing or a curse. It can make them far more effective, but this isn’t always appropriate.
If you’re taking any kind of medicine long term, consult your doctor before trying BioPerine out.
Should You Take BioPerine?
Many of us would benefit from taking BioPerine, either for its own sake or as part of a larger supplement regime.
If you’re taking any supplement, you are possibly already taking it – it’s always worth checking the label, as you may already be enjoying the benefits laid out above. If your supplements don’t include it, consider taking it separately. BioPerine may well help you to make the most out of your supplements by dramatically improving their ingredients’ bioavailability.
More research is needed into the health benefits of BioPerine in its own right, though there are a few things we can say for sure. Namely, it is a potent antioxidant. Though its other effects may need more data before we can talk about them in any kind of definite terms, we know this for sure. That means that all the benefits to be gained from a good antioxidant are there for the taking with BioPerine.
It should decrease your susceptibility to chronic inflammation. With this, it should also decrease your risk from various chronic health conditions, including various forms of cancer, as well as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.
Even if the jury is still out on the other benefits offered by BioPerine, its anti-inflammatory nature, the antioxidants it provides, and the improved bioavailability it grants to pretty much every other nutrient are all profound.