*** Editor, this article DOES belong in the HEALTH/MEDICINE category. Its about how medicines get affected by this ingredient. Submit please. ***
Today I want to talk to you about something that could be very helpful or downright life threatening, depending on what types of medications you take.
I have heard a lot of talk lately about the use of Piperine (sometimes called Bioperine in many products) in supplements to help speed up or magnify the process of absorption of supplements.
Unfortunately, there is another side to the story that a lot of people are ignoring or have not heard before.
I have had this very same conversation with more than a few friends of mine who are excited by the quicker activation of their supplements. What they dont know is that while Piperine is a great way to speed the absorption of some products, it only slows and deters the absorption of many others.
Piperine, as a bioavailability enhancer is a great discovery. For the products it does affect, it will be an incredibly useful tool in both studying the actual uses of those supplements, as well as ensuring consumers get as much of them as possible with every dose.
Piperine itself was discovered in the Pieraceae family of plants; a strain of peppers that has been used for some time by Ayurvedic medicine to treat a wide array of diseases. There is good reason for why these peppers have been successful (including in recent studies) in combating disease, and it has to do with the way your body controls what gets into its cells.
The body has many different mechanisms to get nutrients and substances into the cells; including solubilizer attachment, assisted absorption, metabolic conversion, and assisted exclusion. Piperine manages to act on all four of these mechanisms, directly affecting how and what your cells absorb.
By inhibiting certain enzymes, the supplement is able to stimulate certain transporters in the intestines. Additionally, it blocks p-glycoprotein, an important protein pump that removes other substances from cells, and reduces how much glucuronic acid the body produces, making it possible to absorb more of the ingredients in a supplement in active form.
Combined, these effects make it possible for supplements to get to, enter, and stay inside your cells for that much longer, having a greater effect. The major drawback of this effect though is that if you are currently taking a drug that can easily become toxic through overexposure, Piperine can actually cause poisoning by that drug. However, some drugs work in the opposite manner with Piperine enhancing their effectiveness by getting more of them into the cells where they are needed.
While many different supplements have not been shown to increase or decrease in absorption, there are a few supplements and materials that have been actively shown to increase their absorption rate when taken with Piperine.
The Mirror Effect
Unfortunately, Piperine is known to also reduce the bioavailability of many important supplements. While Piperine stops production of some enzymes that metabolize what you are trying to get to your cells, it can also stimulate the production of other enzymes. Basically, you can turn off the switch for some, but when you do, you flip on the switch for others. This will actually reduce the availability of these other supplements and reduce their effectiveness.
Because it has such a split set of reactions, it is hard to outright recommend the use of non-use of Piperine. If you take a certain supplement alone, it might be highly useful in boosting absorption of that supplement. However, if you take a multi-vitamin with Piperine as an added ingredient, you may actually be inhibiting more of the vitamins and minerals in the supplement than you are enhancing.
The list of substances that have been shown to be negatively affected by Piperine is a much longer list, though there is limited data for supplements in this case as they are often not tested along with drugs. However, the list of affected drugs contains more than 100 commonly used pharmaceuticals and therapeutic treatments ranging from acetaminophen to ethanol, caffeine, and testosterone.
Additional Side Effect
In addition to affecting absorption rates, Piperine has also been shown to affect a number of other things in the body, the majority of them positive in nature. These include an increase in beta-endorphins in the brain, relief of pain, serotonin production increase, fighting epileptic symptoms, increased epinephrine production, reduced stomach ulceration, asthma relief, allergy relief, and reduced stomach acid production. While none of these side effects have been proven in clinical studies, a great deal of lab experimentation has supported their existence.
Of course, Piperine is not recommended for use in these ways as the right dosages are unknown.
The Final Verdict On Peperine
Piperine is a fantastic discovery, as long as the supplement companies use it correctly (a task that unfortunately they fail at all too often). It can be equally as terrible if misused because of its ability to equally inhibit certain absorptions. It can even be downright dangerous in some cases, especially when taken in conjunction with medications that are affected.
Imagine the effect of someone taking heart medication and having the effect either doubled or halved by Piperine. In either case, their life would be at risk.
With the right warning labels, education, and dosages of Piperine, it can likely be a highly useful addition to some supplements. For those who think it may be a good addition to your supplement plan, make sure to both talk to a doctor and do further research to ensure none of your medications or other supplements are negatively affected by the inclusion of Piperine.
About the Author (text)Caroline Cardenas has worked in the natural health niche for more than a decade and shares her insights in the form of innovative editorials funny voice mail greetings