Why pepper helps with bio-availabilityThroughout the world, historians have discovered that ancient civilizations used plants in a very refined way. Quinine from Cinchona bark was used to treat the symptoms of malaria long before doctors identified the disease itself, and the ingredients of aspirin were made into a painkiller long before we had access to pill manufacturing equipment. Indeed, many drugs still include prototypes of natural products we initially discovered by studying old remedies and traditional knowledge held by indigenous people.
In South Asia, there is a plant called Adhatoda. The name comes from adu meaning “goat,” and thoda meaning “not touch,” because even the goats won’t eat its leaves. Its leaves have compounds that help open one’s airways, so people traditionally use them to treat asthma. In 1928, scientists discovered what the people already knew, that adding pepper to the leaves increased the anti-asthmatic properties of the leaves. Black Pepper alone didn’t work—it had to be combined with the other leaves. Now we know why.
How Pepper Works With TurmericCurcumin and piperine are compounds found in black pepper and turmeric, respectively. Curcumin accounts for the yellow color of turmeric, and piperine is responsible for the spicy flavor of pepper. Piperine is an inhibitor of drug metabolism that allows more of a drug to be absorbed by the body, thus increasing its potency. Suppose you wanted to boost your curcumin levels. You could take a lot of turmeric, but your body would quickly get rid of it. The solution? Add a little black pepper.
In lab studies, adding a small amount of black pepper boosted curcumin’s bioavailability by 2000%. Some evidence suggests that just a little bit of pepper—1/20th of a teaspoon—can boost the effectiveness significantly. And guess what? The second most common ingredient besides turmeric in curry powder is black pepper.
Other Ways to Boost Turmeric’s Benefits
Consuming turmeric root is another way to boost curcumin absorption, which makes up about 5% of turmeric’s weight. When eaten with fat, such as hemp seed oil, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system, thereby in part bypassing the liver.In India, turmeric is prepared with fat and black pepper. They knew this ages ago. We use a potent black pepper extract from India in our RECOVER tonic plus New Zealand hemp seed oil to get as much curcumin into the system as possible.