Morgan Chamberlain

Former mbg Supplement Editor

By Morgan Chamberlain

Former mbg Supplement Editor

Morgan Chamberlain is mindbodygreen’s former supplement editor. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition.

tumeric supplements

Image by schlosann / iStock

June 19, 2024

Turmeric has long been celebrated for its powerful antioxidant properties.* However, you might have noticed that turmeric is often paired with black pepper, even in sweeter treats like golden milk.

This pairing is intentional because black pepper enhances turmeric’s absorption.* But black pepper isn’t just a sidekick. It boasts its own impressive health benefits, thanks to an organic compound called piperine.*

What is piperine?

Piperine is a naturally occurring phytonutrient compound (think of it as black pepper’s MVP bioactive) that gives freshly ground pepper its sharp, biting flavor. It’s found in piper fruits from the Piperaceae family but is most concentrated in Piper nigrum, or black pepper.

Benefits of black pepper extract

Pepper contains all sorts of compounds—fibers, carbs, proteins, starch, flavonoids, phenols, and alkaloids.

Of all of black pepper’s unique organic compounds, piperine is its most active (and famous), and its many health benefits are touted in modern scientific studies.*

Health benefits of piperine

Piperine has many bioactive effects in the body. For starters, its antioxidant activity2 supports liver function, a vital organ for many critical pathways in the body—including detoxification.*

Piperine also boasts anti-inflammatory actions1, which have direct relevance for promoting a robust and balanced immune response.* And who doesn’t need that these days?

Additionally, piperine can support daily digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes in the pancreas and intestines.* Preclinical studies have also found that piperine demonstrates the ability to regulate blood sugar1.*

Piperine’s most impressive feat, however, is its ability to enhance the bioavailability of other botanical ingredients.

Piperine as a bio-enhancer

While piperine’s solo health benefits are certainly nothing to scoff at, its role as a bio-enhancer is what makes it a truly valuable ingredient in food, supplements, and beyond. 

In fact, the term “bioavailability enhancer” was first coined by the Indian scientists who discovered and scientifically validated piperine as the world’s first bio-enhancer3 in 1976.

It’s exactly why you grind a little fresh pepper into your golden milk, and you better believe it’s the reason mbg chose black pepper fruit extract as one of the ingredients in our plant-centric multivitamin formula and our high-potency turmeric supplement (that these Ayurveda experts, longevity physicians, culinary nutritionists, and more are raving about). 

Piperine and resveratrol

Unfortunately, it’s tough for the human body to take advantage of resveratrol’s health properties from this source because it metabolizes rapidly.

Piperine and turmeric

Like resveratrol, turmeric’s most active and scientifically popular curcuminoid—curcumin—is notoriously difficult for the body to absorb and utilize. When taken with turmeric through diet or supplementation, piperine has been shown to enhance serum concentrations (i.e., blood levels) of curcumin in both animal and human studies.* 

But how much does piperine enhance curcumin’s health benefits, really? A lot, it turns out: According to a Planta Medica scientific review, piperine increases curcumin’s bioavailability by 2,000% with no side effects!* (So seriously, don’t forget the black pepper next time you’re making curry.)

The takeaway

Piperine is a dynamic plant bioactive that is highly valued for its bio-enhancing abilities (and a “secret sauce” ingredient for botanical teamwork and absorption).* That’s why we’ve included it in two of our mindbodygreen daily essential formulas.

We’re proud of the lineup of revered ancient botanicals (i.e., turmeric, ginger, and piperine from black pepper extract) that promote antioxidant actions in our turmeric potency+ and the longevity botanicals that support cellular functions, integrity, and health in our comprehensive and cutting-edge ultimate multivitamin+.*

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.