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What is Piperine? Benefits, Uses and Possible Side Effects

Most of us only enjoy a pinch of black pepper with meals. No more than that. However, some people choose to take it in supplements to increase their piperine intake and obtain its benefits.

This practice is gaining more and more attention in the world of nutritional consumption, but also in the field of medical research. Recent discoveries suggest that piperine would have a variety of positive effects on the human body.

From improving nutrient absorption and combating systemic inflammation to promoting weight loss, you could do more than just seasoning with pepper. Now, are these benefits real and practical?

What is Piperine?

It is an alkaloid naturally present in black pepper (Piper nigrum). It is responsible for its distinctive spicy flavor.

Pepper, native to the southern regions of India, has been a staple spice in cooking for centuries. When the fruit is harvested, we wait until it is almost ripe. Then, it undergoes a drying process, which gives it its characteristic dark color.

Currently, for marketing, piperine is extracted from the seeds of black pepper (in the cover photo), which contains between 5% and 10% of the compound. It can also be obtained from the seeds of the long pepper (Piper longum), which barely contain between 1% and 2% of the alkaloid.

Properties and benefits of piperine

Throughout history, the benefits of piperine were taken advantage of by traditional medicine. Cultures around the world consider it a valuable component for cooking and health.

In order to learn more about the properties of the alkaloid, various investigations were carried out. However, most studies were carried out in animals or in vitro.

Its effect was also analyzed when used in combination with other substances, such as curcumin. This makes it difficult to distinguish whether the results are due to one or both compounds.

Since the research is preliminary, the benefits of piperine should be classified as probable, but not proven. Among them, the following are the most widespread.

1. Increases the absorption of nutrients

Piperine has the ability to increase the intestine’s capacity to incorporate substances that enter with food. Especially, plant compounds.

The potency of piperine is highlighted to increase the bioavailability and absorption of curcumin, a phytochemical present in turmeric, associated with anti-inflammatory properties. For this reason, it is common to find supplements that combine both substances.

In addition, it would improve the absorption of beta-carotene, known to strengthen immune function and act as an antioxidant. Also selenium, an essential mineral with anti-inflammatory potential.

2. Reduces cholesterol levels

The combination of piperine with curcumin could play a key role in improving blood lipid profiles. This would help prevent heart disease.

According to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, using capsules with piperine and curcumin in people with a previous heart attack would reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or LDL (also called “bad cholesterol”). In addition, it could improve levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, considered “good.”

On the other hand, a meta-analysis showed that the combination of both substances would be able to reduce total cholesterol and LDL in people with metabolic syndrome.

Although the results appear promising, larger scale trials are needed to confirm the findings and better understand the effects of piperine on cardiovascular health.

3. Improves blood glucose control

Piperine in combination with curcumin, showed potential to improve blood glucose values ​​in people with diabetes. This would allow the prevention of certain complications of the disease.

Test tube and animal studies suggest that piperine acts in several ways:

Still, additional studies are needed to determine whether piperine may be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. For now, there are only theories, but the compound is not part of the protocol for addressing the disease.

4. Relieves inflammation

Inflammation is a normal immune response that helps protect the body against disease and infection. If the process becomes chronic, it can be harmful and contribute to the development of cardiac and metabolic pathologies.

Piperine has shown properties that would help control systemic inflammation. On the one hand, it would protect skin cells against damage induced by ultraviolet (UV) rays and delay premature aging.

On the other hand, it could block the production of several markers of inflammation in cells of the brain and spinal cord. This would be beneficial to reduce neuroinflammatory processes. Animal studies also support piperine’s potential benefits as an anti-inflammatory spice for arthritis and asthma.

5. Improves liver health

Piperine, combined with curcumin in supplement form, would be beneficial in people diagnosed with metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), formerly known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition is characterized by the accumulation of fat in the organ and is associated with obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Several investigations examined the effects of the combination of curcumin and piperine on the liver function of people with MASLD, with encouraging results. Short-term treatment with both substances would reduce the severity of the condition.

6. Improves brain function

According to animal studies, the use of the substance could protect the brain against the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidative stress. Especially in the context of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

In addition, it would improve memory and take care of the myelin sheath, an insulating layer that surrounds the nerves and that is damaged in people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). These findings, although needing much more research, are promising and suggest significant potential for piperine in preventing or slowing the progression of these pathologies.

7. Contributes to weight loss

Piperine has gained popularity as an alternative supplement among those looking to lose weight. It has been suggested that it has the ability to promote the loss of accumulated fat in the body. In addition, it would improve the intestinal barrier function, inhibiting the absorption of fatty acids.

However, although piperine can be a useful addition to a weight loss program, it is not a replacement for a balanced diet and regular exercise. Many more clinical studies in humans are needed to confirm its effects on weight.

Does piperine have adverse effects?

Black pepper is generally considered safe to consume as a seasoning in typical amounts. However, its use in higher doses or in supplements may have side effects in some people.

The safety of piperine in pregnant, lactating, or children has not been sufficiently studied. Therefore, extreme caution should be taken in these groups.

Below are some of the possible problems associated with too much piperine:

  • Gastrointestinal irritation: high doses can cause a burning sensation in the throat or pit of the stomach, as well as contribute to acid reflux or heartburn, if you suffer from gastritis or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
  • Clotting problems: The alkaloid can slow blood clotting and, in high doses, contribute to bleeding. For this reason, its use in supplements should be discontinued two weeks before any scheduled surgery.

Piperine may interact with certain drugs. For example, it reduces blood glucose levels, which would cause hypoglycemia in combination with antidiabetics. It also slows blood clotting, as we mentioned before, which increases the risk of bleeding when taken together with blood thinners, such as warfarin.

It is essential to read the labels of supplements containing piperine and discuss their use with a health professional.


It is not recommended that supplements be used in people with the following problems:

How do you take piperine?

Piperine can be consumed in several ways to take advantage of its potential benefits:

  • Black pepper in the diet: Piperine is found naturally in this spice. Therefore, integrating it into everyday dishes is a tasty way to obtain its properties.
  • Black pepper tea: another way to take advantage of piperine is to drink it in tea. It is prepared with 1 tablespoon of honey, 1 tablespoon of black pepper and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a cup of warm water.
  • Black pepper essential oil: used in aromatherapy with the aim of reducing hunger levels or helping in a smoking abstinence process. In any case, for both circumstances, there is no conclusive evidence about its effectiveness. Ingestion of the essential oil or its topical application to the skin is not recommended.
  • Dietary Supplements: Piperine is available in dietary supplement form, almost always combined with other ingredients. Capsules, tablets or powder can be found. The recommended daily dose ranges between 5 and 20 mg. In general, this is equivalent to 2 capsules per day, taken half an hour before main meals. Now, it is always important to follow the instructions of a health professional.

An ingredient to consider

Piperine would offer a number of health benefits, from improving nutrient absorption to reducing inflammation and promoting weight loss. However, it is not a miracle solution to lose weight or cure ailments and its use as a supplement must be supervised by a health professional.

While research on piperine’s benefits is promising, more human studies are needed to understand its effects and long-term safety. Ultimately, you can talk to your doctor about the possibility of integrating it into a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle to take advantage of its properties.

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