Almost everyone has eaten black pepper. It is a common ingredient in many recipes, and most every table in homes and in restaurants worldwide holds a shaker.
Historically, black pepper was used as a spice and as a medicine. The underlying reason it became so ubiquitous is rooted in science. Black pepper enhances bioavailability. In other words, black pepper helps improve the absorption of whatever one takes with it, improving the digestive process and the absorption of foods in tandem.
Black pepper is used not only in foods but also in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been a staple in formulations to improve the absorption of natural medicines for thousands of years.
BioPerine is a patented and standardized extract of black pepper (Piper nigrum). Piperine, an alkaloid contained in black pepper, causes its pungent bitterness; BioPerine has been patented and standardized to contain exactly 95 percent piperine. When the patented BioPerine is added to patented Curcumin C3 Complex, it has been shown to increase the absorption and length of time for penetration in organs such as blood, bone, heart, liver, spleen, kidney, and muscle more than just with Curcumin C3 Complex alone. This increase has been shown to improve absorption up to 2,000 percent.
No other black pepper extract (as well as curcumin extract) can make that claim. This is why Ayurvedic medicine traditionally places black pepper with curcumin in medicines and also why we cook our spices together in our foods. Bioperine also has been shown to increase other vitamins and nutrients dramatically.
BioPerine has the ideal bioavailability-enhancing potency needed from black pepper, and it has been clinically demonstrated to aid in the absorption of many supplements. Bioperine has been shown to improve the absorption of curcumin (specifically Curcumin C3 Complex) by up to 2,000 percent, boswellia, and ginger from 30 percent to 60 percent. That is a big difference.
Not only are you getting the most potent and clinically effective forms of curcumin, boswellia, and ginger in Bosmeric-SR, you are getting 2,000 percent of the most clinically studied form of curcumin plus 30 percent to 60 percent increased absorption of the other ingredients—sustained over eight hours.
BioPerine: activities and actions
There are currently more than 500 modern cell, animal, and human studies that describe the following actions and properties of black pepper (piperine), contained in BioPerine. 
- Anti-inflammatory (e.g., COX-2)
- Antioxidant (i.e., lipid peroxidation)
- Chemopreventive (prevents cancer cells from growing)
- Controls progression of tumor growth
- Anticancer (i.e., decreases NF-kB, STAT-3, and MMP-9)
- Assists in cognitive brain functioning
- Boosts nutrient absorption and bioavailability of herbal and conventional drugs
- Improves gastrointestinal functionality
- Antiulcer (gastro-protective)
BioPerine helps to boost the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and gastro-protective properties of Bosmeric-SR (combination of Curcumin C3 Complex, Boswellin PS, and ginger extract) while enhancing the overall absorption of the formula. However, similar to Curcumin C3 Complex and how the patented extraction makes the clinical effectiveness versus generic curcumin extracts standardized to 95 percent curcuminoids, the same applies to Bioperine. The patent is on how the piperine is extracted, not just the amount. Therefore, formulas using the generic 95 percent piperine extracts will not have the same clinical benefit as the patented form of Bioperine.
How much BioPerine should I take in a supplement?
For those who take BioPerine in a dietary supplement, the clinical dose for enhanced absorption of curcumin is 5 mg per 250-500 mg of curcumin (the same dose applies to boswellia and ginger). Many companies tend to put less than 5 mg of BioPerine in their supplements, just enough that they can include it on the label and market the increase in absorption. But, more often than not, these amounts aren’t even close to the clinical dose needed for improved absorption.
If you see a product with less than 5 mg of BioPerine, question the other ingredients in the product as well. Again, this is where the industry uses hard data for marketing purposes, employing a bait-and-switch tactic, whereby they make consumers aware of the benefits of BioPerine but then shortchange them by providing so small a dose that it delivers virtually no clinical benefits. This bait-and-switch tactic again illustrates the frequency with which companies prioritize profits above efficacy, safety, and purity.
If a product contains “black pepper extract” only, then beware of this as well. You’re probably not getting a product standardized to contain 95 percent piperine (the clinically effective concentration), and therefore, you will not get the results that the company claims (directly or indirectly).
Can black pepper be dangerous?
Over the past few years, this question has come up, not only from consumers or from people who have had problems but also from other supplement companies that sell natural anti-inflammatory products and do not want to use the patented form of piperine (i.e., BioPerine) or use black pepper at all (again, to keep their profits higher). In fact, some of these companies have their director of education/marketing state that the increased absorption provided by black pepper could potentially increase interactions with prescription medication and cause liver problems. Let me assure you that this is just a scare tactic.
First, black pepper has been used safely for thousands of years without any side effects or harm. I have been practicing medicine for nearly 20 years, and I have never heard of any fellow doctor or health regulatory agency warns the public to be careful of taking medication with meals that may contain black pepper. You probably had some black pepper the last time you ate lunch or dinner. Black pepper has never been banned from a restaurant table anywhere in the world.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Millions of people worldwide take their medications daily with food that has black pepper in it. In some cultures and dishes, there may be dozens of times more black pepper than you would get in any dietary supplement.
Try not to become a victim of fear mongering and scare tactics. Companies use educational, marketing, or sales people to disseminate this misinformation on purpose — to drum up sales for whatever they are selling or to discourage customers from purchasing a competitor’s product. Nothing more.
No actual M.D. or anyone trained in nutrition would ever tell you to avoid black pepper unless you have an allergy to it. Most respectable supplement companies understand these scare tactics, but unfortunately, many wholesalers, retailers, and health-care providers don’t. Don’t buy into the hype. More importantly, you might want to question companies that go to such lengths to create such misinformation.
For more detailed information on 10 steps to optimum health using diet and lifestyle changes and the use of natural anti-inflammatories, please read An Inflammation Nation.
Modified by permission from An Inflammation Nation by Sunil Pai © 2015.