Piperine is a substance found in black pepper with antioxidant, anticonvulsant, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, antiparasitic, etc. properties. Together with the cavacina, it gives pepper the typical spicy and bitter taste.
Isolated for the first time in 1820 by the Swedish chemist Hans Christian Ørsted, piperine is the subject of numerous studies for its beneficial effects on the body, in particular for its slimming properties.
As a food supplement it is quite well known and advertised, but the properties attributed to it are not always scientifically validated.
What is piperine
Piperine is an alkaloid contained in black pepper (Piper nigrum) in concentrations ranging from 5 to 8% by weight. It has several therapeutic properties which, however, from a scientific point of view, are all to be confirmed.
It is an aromatic and colorless substance which, together with cavacina, is responsible for the characteristic spicy flavor of pepper.
Piperine is considered a type of antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and some neurological disorders.
This compound also has a positive effect on the bioavailability of nutrients. In fact, when you add black pepper to your meal, it increases the amount of nutrients absorbed into your bloodstream.
There are therefore various phytotherapeutic properties, also used in the food industry to create “slimming” supplements that would exploit piperine’s ability to stimulate metabolism and increase heat production in the body (thermogenesis).
What are the benefits?
As with all food supplements, the opinions of the scientific community are conflicting. However, some research has shown that piperine has some important properties.
Thermogenesis is the set of physiological processes that determine the production of body heat thus promoting weight loss. It is therefore often used in weight management supplements. In fact, it seems that it is also able to block the formation of new fat cells. It then stimulates the basal metabolic rate by promoting the oxidation of fats.
Piperine increases salivation and gastric secretion by stimulating the production of digestive enzymes in the pancreas. It therefore favors gastrointestinal function and the intestinal absorption of many nutrients.
Furthermore, it decreases the intestinal transit times of food.
In fact, piperine has been shown to increase the absorption of several nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. For example, some studies, such as the American one published in Foods, show that piperine can increase the absorption of curcumin by up to 2,000%. It is an active plant compound present in turmeric with effective anti-inflammatory properties.
Other research, however, shows that piperine can increase the absorption of beta-carotene, another plant compound that is very useful for health since it improves immune function and acts as an antioxidant to prevent damage to the body’s cells. Likewise, piperine can increase the absorption of selenium, a very important mineral with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
If you want to know more, read our in-depth study on turmeric and piperine.
Antioxidant properties and allies of cognitive functions
Some animal studies suggest that piperine supplementation could offer several benefits for the brain and counteract neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Finally, a 2020 Iranian study, published in Life Science, carried out on laboratory mice, found that the piperine improves memory and protects against damage to the myelin sheath, an insulating layer that surrounds nerve fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Because of this, it may have potential as a therapy for people with multiple sclerosis. Keep in mind, however, that these studies were done on animals. For this reason, human research is needed to confirm the benefits of piperine.
Furthermore, there are numerous studies that have observed a reduction in free radicals and oxidative damage after the use of piperine.
Reduces blood cholesterol level
Some studies conducted on a sample of people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, have shown that a supplementation of piperine and curcumin has reduced the level of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, increasing the “good” or HDL.
Keeping cholesterol levels under control, not only total but especially LDL, is an important form of prevention to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Anti-inflammatory and skin-friendly
Inflammation is a normal immune response by the body and helps protect the body from disease and infection.
Some research has shown that piperine may possess important anti-inflammatory properties that help keep chronic inflammation at bay. For example, a test-tube study showed that piperine extract helps protect skin cells from drug-induced skin damage. ultraviolet rays. Several previous animal studies, however, indicate that it may reduce inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis and asthma. However, more research is needed to determine how piperine supplements affect inflammation in humans. humans.
Finally, some analyzes have shown that piperine, when applied to the skin, stimulates its pigmentation, especially after exposure to UVB rays. For this property it is also used in products for the treatment of vitiligo.
How to use piperine
Considered the “king of spices”, black pepper, which contains piperine, is a perfect condiment for many recipes. However, a pinch or two is consumed a day and perhaps not even every day, so to take advantage of the benefits of piperine you can use supplements that are often found on the market in combination with other active ingredients such as those of turmeric or ginger .
Generally the recommended dose is 5 mg per day, being careful not to exceed 15 mg per day. It is preferable to take it on a full stomach to avoid possible gastro-intestinal discomfort.
They can be purchased in herbal medicine, pharmacies or online shops with a price ranging from 15 to 25 euros.
Currently the healthy characteristics of piperine-based products are not approved by EFSA (the European Food Safety Authority). However, it is found as an ingredient in numerous food supplements. However, it should be remembered that it also has some contraindications.
In fact, before using any food supplement, it would be advisable to hear the opinion of your doctor (especially in the presence of pathologies) or a nutritionist.
It has been shown, in fact, that piperine can increase the concentration in the blood of some drugs such as theophylline (bronchodilator), phenytoin (antiepileptic) and propranolol (B-blocker).
The intake of piperine is, therefore, contraindicated in case of:
- Hypersensitivity to this substance.
- Gastroesophageal reflux.
- Gastric ulcer.
- Other gastrointestinal disorders (Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, haemorrhoids).
Consumption of piperine as part of a balanced diet is considered safe even during pregnancy. But it can have harmful effects on the fetus in case of excessive intake. Ditto for breastfeeding: it is advisable to limit the intake of piperine to that naturally present in the diet.
If you want to know more about spices, we recommend reading our in-depth study on the benefits and uses of pepper.
- ISS Salute