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Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum)

Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum)

Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum)

Exploring the Health Benefits of Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum)

Black pepper, a staple in most global kitchens, not only adds a distinctive flavour to meals but is also packed with numerous health benefits, many of which have been recognised in traditional medicine for centuries. This article aims to unpack what black pepper is, outline its various health benefits, explore how it functions, detail its potential side effects, and provide guidance on consuming it and the recommended dosage to maximise these health benefits.


Introduction to Black Pepper (Piper Nigrum)

Known scientifically as Piper nigrum, black pepper belongs to the Piperaceae family and originates from a flowering vine. Although native to India, black pepper is currently cultivated in the tropical regions of Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. The tiny, round berries of the pepper plant are crushed and dried to create the familiar spice utilised globally (1).


Historically, black pepper has been utilised in traditional medicine to treat a variety of medical conditions, primarily aiding in improving digestion and nutrient absorption. Recent scientific advancements have highlighted black pepper's crucial role in detoxifying toxins and potentially preventing cancer, making it a common ingredient in numerous natural, health-promoting supplements.

The Health-Promoting Actions of Piper Nigrum

Black pepper's status goes beyond being a simple spice; it has potent properties that can promote and protect your health. Regular use of black pepper supports the body's natural systems and enhances the immune response. Here are some of the key benefits black pepper offers to the body:


Enhanced Nutrient Absorption:

The pungent flavour unique to black pepper can be attributed to an active compound known as piperine. Interestingly, piperine possesses the ability to amplify nutrient absorption in the body. It acts by inhibiting enzymes involved in the metabolism of nutrients, particularly in the digestive tract. This boosted metabolism results in higher bioavailability of crucial vitamins and minerals.


In synergy with black pepper, other ingredients found in the Super 23 supplement, such as L-Carnitine, L-Tyrosine, and Niacin (Vitamin B3), contribute to enhanced nutrient absorption and metabolic functions, thereby making the combination an excellent addition to dietary supplements (2).


Through its role in enhancing nutrient bioavailability, black pepper helps the body to absorb and utilise these ingredients more effectively, maximising their potential benefits.


Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Benefits:

Piperine, the primary bioactive compound in black pepper, displays potent antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are vital in neutralising harmful free radicals in the body – unstable molecules that can inflict cellular damage and contribute to various chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular conditions.


In addition to its antioxidant activity, black pepper also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Both acute and chronic inflammation, associated with numerous health issues like arthritis, obesity, and neurodegenerative disorders, can be managed by the inflammation-reducing effects of piperine, which thereby promotes overall well-being (3).


Weight Management:

Certain studies suggest that black pepper may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy weight. This is primarily through the enhancement of digestive health. Unlike some other spices, black pepper gently boosts nutrient absorption in the intestines without damaging the digestive tract's structure. This process promotes efficient energy use and helps sustain a healthy metabolism. Regular intake of black pepper can deter fat accumulation and sudden weight loss, instead supporting weight maintenance within a healthy range (4).


Immune System Support:

As a natural antibacterial agent, black pepper plays a crucial role in protecting the body from harmful pathogens. Studies indicate that black pepper can bolster the body's natural immunity by strengthening the body cells' defence mechanisms against foreign invaders. Historically, black pepper has been utilised as an immunity booster in traditional medicine, employed to combat bacterial and viral infections. Hence, black pepper is often included in supplements to enhance their overall health-promoting properties (5).


In addition to these benefits, black pepper can also help alleviate inflammation, assist with weight management, aid in blood pressure control, be gentle on your skin, and support the functions of the central nervous system. Always adhere to the recommended dosage to prevent any adverse effects. If you have an existing medical condition, consult your healthcare professional before incorporating any new supplement into your routine.

Understanding the Mechanism of Piper Nigrum

The efficacy of black pepper primarily hinges on an active ingredient known as piperine. This compound interacts with and enhances various bodily functions, promoting the natural operations of the body's organs and fortifying its defensive mechanism against potential diseases. Here's how black pepper provides its benefits (6):


Boosting Nutrient Absorption:

Deficiencies in essential nutrients and minerals can make the body susceptible to various medical conditions and weaken its defensive mechanism, potentially leading to multiple infections. Black pepper improves digestion and absorption of vital nutrients needed for the body's functions. Piperine enhances explicitly the absorption of vitamins such as A, C, D, E, and K, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, and selenium. Additionally, black pepper plays a role in a process known as the "bio-enhancing" effect. This mechanism involves black pepper minimising and slowing down the activity of certain enzymes in the body responsible for excreting vitamins and minerals. As a result, these nutrients linger in the body longer than usual, becoming readily available as needed.


Stimulation of TRPV1 Receptors:

Piperine activates transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1 (TRPV1) receptors in the human body. These receptors play roles in pain perception and body temperature regulation, which may explain black pepper's pain-relieving effects often harnessed in traditional medicine. Beyond allopathic medicines, black pepper can effectively manage chronic inflammatory and painful conditions, which may take months or years to alleviate. 


Dosage Guidance

The appropriate dosage of black pepper extract or piperine supplements varies depending on individual health conditions and the specific supplement used. The safe and effective dosage ranges from 5 to 20 mg of piperine daily (7). It is essential to consult with a qualified healthcare professional before starting any supplement, especially for those with an underlying health condition or those taking medications.


The recommended dose of Black Pepper in the form of the Super 23 supplement, which also includes beneficial ingredients such as Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract (Green Tea), known for its powerful antioxidant effects, and Paullinia Cupana Fruit Extract (Guarana), famous for its stimulating properties, is 2 tablets a day. People sensitive to supplements are advised to take 1 tablet per day. It is recommended to follow the prescribed dose and not to exceed it to achieve quick results.


Optimal Time to Consume Piper Nigrum

The best time to take Super 23 (containing Black Pepper) is in the early morning with meals or just before a workout. Contrary to some other ingredients, black pepper should not be taken on an empty stomach, as it works most effectively when consumed with food. Taking black pepper with meals not only ensures healthier digestion and more efficient absorption of nutrients but also adds a delightful flavour and aroma to the food, stimulating the appetite.


Incorporating Piper Nigrum Into Your Routine

There are several ways to incorporate black pepper into your daily meals, each form offering its unique concentration and benefits to the body. Some sources include (8):


Culinary Uses:

The most traditional method of using black pepper is as a culinary spice. You can grind black pepper and sprinkle it over various dishes, salads, soups, and stews to enhance the flavour and harness its therapeutic benefits.


Piperine Supplements:

If you're seeking a consistent dosage to reap health benefits, taking black pepper in the form of a supplement is recommended. Super 23 is one of the best TGA-registered supplements containing an adequate amount of black pepper and other beneficial ingredients like Bitter Orange (Citrus Aurantium), known for its potential weight-loss properties and digestive benefits.


Piperine Oils:

Piperine oil formulations are also available in the market, which can be used on dishes and salads to increase daily black pepper intake. These oils offer a milder, more aromatic flavour than ground black pepper.


Combination Formulations:

Black pepper can be combined with other medications and herbs to enhance flavour and target specific health benefits. 


Potential Side Effects of Black Pepper:

While black pepper is generally safe and doesn't pose a threat to most users' overall well-being, some sensitive individuals may experience symptoms such as:

  • Heartburn

  • Upset stomach

  • Allergic reactions

  • Diarrhoea

  • Nausea

  • Skin irritation (from topical use)

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

  • Respiratory irritation (from inhalation of fine pepper dust)


Final Thoughts

Black pepper, or Piper nigrum, is more than just a culinary spice — it's bursting with numerous health benefits. From enhancing nutrient absorption to offering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, this remarkable spice provides many advantages to support overall well-being.


Whether you consume black pepper in its natural form or as a supplement, it can improve the quality of life and maintain a healthy reserve of nutrients in blood circulation. It's crucial to adhere to the dosage guidelines labelled on any supplement and avoid overdosing. If you have an underlying medical condition, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.


References:

  1. Srinivasan K. (2007). Black pepper and its pungent principle-piperine: a review of diverse physiological effects. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 47(8):735-748. doi:10.1080/10408390601062054

  2. Butt MS, Pasha I, Sultan MT, Randhawa MA, Saeed F, Ahmed W. (2013). Black pepper and health claims: a comprehensive treatise. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 53(9):875-886. doi:10.1080/10408398.2011.571799

  3. Liu Y, Mulabagal V, Bowen-Forbes CS, Aviayan R, Nair MG. (2009). Inhibition of lipid peroxidation, cyclooxygenase enzyme and human tumor cell proliferation by compounds in herbal water. Mol Nutr Food Res. 53(9):1177-1186. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200800545

  4. Shah SS, Shah GB, Singh SD, et al. (2011). Effect of piperine in the regulation of obesity-induced dyslipidemia in high-fat diet rats. Indian J Pharmacol. 43(3):296. doi:10.4103/0253-7613.81516

  5. Sampath V, Shanmugam S, Park JH, Kim IH. (2020). The Effect of Black Pepper (Piperine) Extract Supplementation on Growth Performance, Nutrient Digestibility, Fecal Microbial, Fecal Gas Emission, and Meat Quality of Finishing Pigs. Anim an Open Access J from MDPI. 10(11):1-11. doi:10.3390/ANI10111965

  6. Zou L, Hu YY, Chen WX. (2015). Antibacterial mechanism and activities of black pepper chloroform extract. J Food Sci Technol. 52(12):8196. doi:10.1007/S13197-015-1914-0

  7. Dudhatra GB, Mody SK, Awale MM, et al. (2012). A Comprehensive Review on Pharmacotherapeutics of Herbal Bioenhancers. Sci World J. 2012:33. doi:10.1100/2012/637953

  8. Ziegenhagen R, Heimberg K, Lampen A, Hirsch-Ernst KI. (2021). Safety Aspects of the Use of Isolated Piperine Ingested as a Bolus. Foods. 10(9). doi:10.3390/FOODS10092121