Bioperine And Piperine – You May Be Able To Boost Supplement Value By Up To 2000%
What if there was a supplement that massively increased the effectiveness of all the other supplements you took, giving you a huge boost in absorption? Well, it seems from a little online research that this could actually be a reality, and may have been for quite some time.
According to one area of growing research, it's possible to boost your nutrient value and the effective rate of absorption of various supplements by as much as 2000% by using a simple, cheap and easily obtained extract supplement, that being either Bioperine or Piperine.
Is this research actually based on any objective factual evidence though, or is it simply more of the endless hype and supposed “scientific proof” that we see forever churned up mindlessly within the health and supplements industry to make more sales?
I'm not sure whether there is enough solid evidence behind this to really take it seriously, so we're going to take a brief intro what these supplements are, where they are derived, and then we'll look into some of the scientific research regarding using Bioperine or Piperine for supplementation purposes and the claims that these products can offer an apparent huge boost to various other supplements that you may already be taking.
Before we get started though, here's a quick page index, if you want to skip ahead to any particular area of interest:
An Introduction To Bioperine And Piperine
Why Greater Absorption Is Important – The Problem Of Low Nutrient Absorption
How Do They Work To Boost Absorption?
A Look At The Existing Scientific Research
Common Questions Regarding Finding And Using These Supplements
Some Possible Sources Of Bioperine/Piperine (Supplement Options)
Summary – Is It Worth Trying?
Your Experience Using Bioperine Or Piperine
An Introduction To Bioperine And Piperine
Firstly let's define the difference between Bioperine and Piperine. Bioperine is simply the patented, more refined version of Piperine. Bioperine and/or Piperine is basically an extract that's acquired from black pepper. As you may be aware, black pepper has been known in the ayurvedic tradition for millennia as a very beneficial thing to include as a staple within one's diet. It's also been proven to have roots in other ancient civilizations. For example, Rameses II, the Egyptian king who died in 1213 BCE was found to have black peppercorns in the nostrils, upon inspecting his mummification .
Piperine and the more refined version Bioperine are products that are extracted from different types of peppercorns and have actually been known about for their positive influences on digestion for thousands of years, being used in India since 2000 BC according to some historic records. When digestion is improved, it makes sense that we can increase our nutrient absorption levels.
So this obviously makes these supplements a very interesting thing to learn about, as we could all probably do with increased absorption rates, and getting more out of our food and supplements. Especially seeing as eating well and supplementation can be quite expensive.
In terms of value for money, it's a pretty interesting idea to think that we might be able to multiply the effects of our supplements to such high levels as are claimed by the companies manufacturing Bioperine/Piperine.
At the end of the day though, as with many supplements, it's extremely hard to quantify whether or not there is any actual truth behind all the claims. We'll get to some of the studies behind these supplements shortly, but firstly, I want to quickly mention what I believe to be one of the biggest challenges we have as modern humans in this day and age trying to live as healthily as possible…
Low Nutrient Absorption – A Growing Modern Health Challenge
If you're into learning about nutrition life myself, then you'll probably be aware that getting the most nutritious food possible is a big issue in today's society. Unfortunately, today's soil is vastly different than it was prior to the huge increases in food production that have been brought about as a result of the industrial revolution .
Organic food is an absolute must (unless you don't mind consuming ghastly chemicals in your food, and eating food with little to no nutritional value to start with), but even with an organic food diet, and being conscious of avoiding the bad things; like refined flour, bad sugars, and processed food in general, it can be a challenge to get the most absorption of the nutrients that you consume.
Having a great diet is only half of the picture, you have to make sure your body is actually absorbing all those good nutrients, and if it's not, it's like pouring money down the drain. The main way to do this, is to make sure that your intestinal absorption capacity is maximized.
There are a few basics that you can make sure
you're incorporating to achieve this, such as:
- Chewing your food thoroughly
- Being aware of nutrients and vitamins that will compete for absorption, here's a good article with some information on that topic related to Mg and Zn absorption.
- Improving your gut flora (taking probiotics can help), and healing leaky gut if that's an issue for you.
- Decreasing stress, as it's been shown that stress decreases gut function and therefore the ability to absorb nutrients correctly.
This is obviously a good start, and doing these things will help, but of course that's not the focus of this article. Here we're looking at a supposed way of increasing the absorption capability of your gut, so that you can continuously get more out of the things you're already eating, including all the supplements. That being the use of bioperine or piperine.
How Do They Work To Boost Absorption?
It's very hard to find much information behind the mechanism of action that Bioperine and Piperine use to increase absorption levels in the digestive system.
The following was found on becarre-natural.com (which seems to be associated with bioperine.com), and as I'll discuss more further down the page in the scientific research section, unfortunately because of the financial ties, you can basically disregard the information posted there in terms of it's adequacy in determining whether or ont these supplements do as claimed.
But, just in case you're interested, here's their explanation as to the mechanism behind Bioperine's apparently huge absorption increases:
A Look At The Existing Scientific Research
Both the forms of black pepper extract supplement seem to have a rather slim amount of published scientific data behind them. From what I was able to dig up online, much of the studies that involve either Bioperine or Piperine (although in 90% of cases it seemed to be Bioperine) are referring to the use of Bioperine as being used along with other supplements.
One can only ASSUME that these studies have included Bioperine/Piperine as an added supplement because they already have data validating the efficacy of these supplements, OR because they have in fact tested their validity as absorption-boosting compounds separately in other studies that are not linked.
There were a couple of studies that focused directly on proving whether or not Bioperine improved absorption rates of certain supplements, but they were much fewer in number.
Aside from that, there was some other study data that was basically what I would consider useless, because it was published on websites with either a direct commercial interest or an obvious affiliate connection to manufacturers selling either Bioperine or Piperine products.
As in one case, where the actual manufacturers website has published their own “clinical data” referring to Bioperine, but have not included any real solid information regarding how the research was done, what the study conditions were, who the researchers were, or what the control measures were for example. In my books, this means it's basically throw away data in terms of having any use for someone looking for objective proof that these supplements actually do anything.
So let's have a closer look at the studies here, and then I'll give my personal opinion on what this data means, and you can try and make up your mind from there whether or not you think the use of Bioperine or Piperine is worth spending some time biohacking within the laboratory of your own life.
STUDY SOURCE #1
Study Date: N/A
This is actually a group of studies, and is what I was referring to above as throw away data.
I consider it such because if you look at the website you will find that there is a combination of extremely poor study referencing, to the point where many of their so called studies have absolutely no references or links to any information about their claims, AND it's obviously a website with high commercial intent and bias towards making Bioperine look good.
I find this extremely suspicious, and to be honest it makes the company and the product look bad, and shrouds all the nice-sounding claims with doubt. If there is real science, and especially if they have access to the science behind the efficacy of Bioperine as a nutrient absorption-boosting compound, then why not be fully transparent about that data and include all the usual references?
Here is an example of the studies they are citing on this website, this one claims a 250% increase in bioavailability of vitamin B6 when taken along with Bioperine:
There are a couple of cited studies within their pages that do seem to have more information, (for example one referencing a study done at the university of wisconsen that showed Bioperine increasing the bioavailability of Resveratrol), but when I proceeded to do the digging in Google myself to find those studies, the only thing that I could find was health blogs that referenced these studies, using the same blurb of text, but no actual studies themselves. I found this very strange indeed.
It seems that the website may actually be owned and administrated by the company who has rights over the name “Bioperine” as the product name.
This is why I don't consider these set of so-called studies (which I cannot even find or look over) at all sound or legitimate, and again it makes me suspicious about the validity of the claims related to Bioperine and Piperine.
STUDY SOURCE #2
Source: PubMed Central
Study Date: 2015
In this meta-study entitled “Benefits of antioxidant supplements for knee osteoarthritis: rationale and reality” the researchers were trying to determine the quality of research done on the effect of certain supplements used in decreasing joint inflammation associated with the condition of osteoarthritis.
The specific antioxidant supplements that conductors in this meta-study were analysing, were; Curcumin (an isolated compound derived from Turmeric), Avocado-soya extract, Boswellia. They also made a rather vague reference to the study of other supplements used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Within this broad range they referred to a few different herbs and plants with antioxidant properties, such as roots of Withania somniferum (which are supposedly used to prepare ashwagandha).
In one specific area of the meta-study discussion linked to above, you can find references to a study done using Piperine, and how this had apparently increased absorption rates of Curcumin (which is typically regarded as having problems being absorbed well into the body, hence why we probably see it very often “packaged” with Bioperine or Piperine when bought as an isolated supplement).
I've taken a screenshot from the study webpage, and posted it here for convenience as this is really the only relevant part of this study in terms of it's relation to the efficacy of Bioperine/Piperine and black pepper extracts.
So it appears that in terms of giving us a clear indication of the efficacy of the use of Piperine, this meta-study is not very helpful. Although it definitely adds to the number of sources that seem to make understanding whether or not these supplements really do increase absorption rates when taken with other supplements.
STUDY SOURCE #3
Study Date: November, 2011
In this study entitled “Curcumin (Diferuloylmethane Derivative) With or Without Bioperine in Patients With Multiple Myeloma” the direct objective was to determine whether or not the performance of supplementing with Curcumin was enhanced or not, via the addition of using Bioperine.
This is much closer to the type of studies we need to see in greater number in order to work out whether or not the claims from the manufacturers and marketers are based on any objective data.
The primary objectives of this study were the following:
- To evaluate clinical tolerance and response to curcumin alone and in combination with Bioperine in patients with multiple myeloma
- To compare the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of curcumin and curcumin + Bioperine and evaluate the effect of Bioperine on the bioavailability of curcumin.
- To evaluate the biologic effects of curcumin alone and in combination with Bioperine on the expression of NF-kB and related genes in the Multiple Myeloma (MM) cells.
Quick clarification here. NF-kB levels are basically a biomarker for inflammation. The NF-kB pathway is considered a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway, so in terms of this being used as one of the measurement values in this study, if the use of Curcumin with Bioperine resulted in a lower reading of NF-kB levels, than without Bioperine, then this study would therefore conclude that Curcumin was more bioavailable and therefore more effective with the use of Bioperine.
Basically in order to determine their objectives, the researchers carrying out this study broke participants into randomly assigned groups. The randomly selected individuals in the first group (“Group Arm A”) would take Curcumin by itself without the addition of Bioperine. The 2nd group (“Group Arm B”) would then receive curcumin in combination with Bioperine.
This was a small study with only 6 patients being selected at a time, and then from those 6, 3 would be randomly assigned to each group. It seems this carried on until all participants had gone through the process, and although it's not very clear exactly how many people took part in this small scale study, the study states “A total of up to 30 evaluable patients will take part in the study”.
The reason I say it's unclear is because it also states on another page in the study notes that there are 42 listed next to “Enrollment” which I would have assumed meant enrolled to take part in the study. It then also states: “Of 42 patients enrolled, 9 were excluded from the trial prior to group assignment because of screen failure” but 42-9 does not equal 30 obviusly, so it's a little confusing. Either way, it's clear that this was a very small scale study on the absorption-boosting capabilities of Bioperine.
Participants in Arm A were to take Curcumin starting at a dose of 2 grams orally in 2 divided doses (a.m., p.m.). Participants in Arm B were to take Curcumin starting at a dose of 2 grams orally in 2 divided doses (a.m., p.m.) and Bioperine 5 mg orally twice daily. The dosage was to remain the same for both groups, and supplementation could be carried on for 1 year and still be relevant to the study, but would be terminated if the disease worsened or side effects were intolerable.
Although this was ultimately a small scale study, it seems like it was fairly robust in design. Going back to the primary objectives of this study, we can note that one of the clear goals was to measure the effects of curcumin alone and in combination with Bioperine on the expression of NF-kB and related genes in the Multiple Myeloma (MM) cells.
Well from looking at the study results, it appears that indeed the group who used Curcumin along with Bioperine achieved a higher “Percent Change of NF-kB Protein Expression in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells From Baseline”, with Arm A who used just Curcumin alone experiencing only a 21% change, compared to the Arm B who had used Curcumin along with Bioperine who experienced a 37% change.
So while this is certainly an interesting study, and POINTS towards the use of Bioperine positively impacting absorption and bioavailability of Curcumin, it's hard to say if this directly proves this. Definitely a good study to take a look at, and when combined with the other data we're looking over here can help us to make our minds up about the efficacy of Bioperine/Piperine.
FURTHER PUBLISHED STUDIES OF INTEREST
The following studies are all useful to look into as well. But due to the fact that they are not direct studies on the efficacy of Bioperine and Piperine in increasing absorption rates of other supplements, and this is the main thing that we're trying to determine, I'm just going to list them very briefly without providing much more analysis.
All of the following studies, all barring 1 being sourced from PubMed Central, basically included Bioperine or Piperine in their study and it was used in conjunction with other supplements, BUT it was not the focus of the study.
So I think the main interesting thing to note about all of these below studies is that they seem to assume that Bioperine/Piperine do in fact work to increase absorption as claimed by the labelling, advertising and marketing.
Here are the links to the discussed studies with a brief reference in brackets as to which supplements they were being used in conjunction with for apparent increases in absorption levels:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595097/ (pre-workout multi)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3478157/ (multi-herb for erectile dysfunction)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006672/ (food/supplement cocktail)
It still seems to me that there's a lot of assumption going on in relation to the efficacy of these supplements, without a whole lot of properly researched, well-published proof.
Common Questions About Bioperine/Piperine
Here are some of the common questions that often come up regarding both the usage and sourcing of Bioperine/Piperine supplements:
Where's The Best Place To Buy Bioperine?
I've made a separate page dedicated to exploring the supplement options and variations for those of you who want to give either Bioperine or Piperine a try. You can find it here: Bioperine and Piperine supplement options.What Foods Contain Bioperine?
Bioperine is the more refined version of Piperine, and Piperine being extracted soley from peppercorns, means that the only food containing Bioperine is pepper.What Is Bioperine Curcumin?
Bioperine Curcumin would just curcumin WITH added Bioperine included in the supplement. You see this all the time. Probably due to the apparent HUGE increases in absorption when curcumin is used together with pepper, Piperine or Bioperine. Also, Curcumin is known to be fairly poorly absorbed so this is probably part of the reason you'll very often see this combination in the supplement marketplace.What Is Bioperine Complex?
Bioperine complex is in most cases probably nothing more than a fancy name for a Bioperine product. Although there may be some supplements with a proprietary blend of other compounds or herbal mixtures.
What Is Bioperine Black Pepper Extract?
Bioperine is derived from refined black pepper extract. It's the more isolated version of Piperine.What Is Bioperine Good For?
The main benefit of Bioperine is it's apparent ability to increase absorption, though as you can see above from a look at the scientific literature that exists, I'm still not really convinced that there's much proof behind the claims on this one, and it's pretty hard to self-quantify.What Are The Benefits Of Using Bioperine?
According to the evidence that does exist, most of which seems to be very much anecdotal – the main benefit of using Bioperine is an Increased absorption rate, which means you'll be getting more nutrients out of the food you're eating, and also an increase in the benefits of taking various supplements.
What Does Bioperine Do?
Supposedly increases absorption of nutrients.When To Take Bioperine or Piperine?
According to the supplement version of Bioperine that I've experimented with so far (Source Naturals version, which you can read more about here), the best time to take it is about 30 mins before eating or taking your supplements. I would guess that taking a Piperine supplement would call for a similar schedule, but best to follow the advice of your Dr, along with reading the manufacturers advice.What Food Is Piperine Found In?
Piperine comes from peppercorns.What Is Piperine Extract?
Piperine extract is derived from peppercorns, and whilst the evidence is still not overly clear, there are many who claim it's ability to drastically increase absorption rates when taken close to the time of eating or ingesting supplements.Why Is Piperine Important?
Well if you believe the reports, and you are interested in increasing the effectiveness of your diet and supplement intake (ie. getting more actual benefits from what you put into your body), then using Bioperine or Piperine could be a great option for you. Just make sure you check out the published research above before you make your decision on this one.
Biopeerine/Piperine Supplement Choices
Updated Note – I decided to keep the focus of this page about the information related to the use of these supplements, a look at the big claims, and the scientific studies. For that reason, I've moved my research and information about the related supplements for those who are looking to get a good source of Bioperine to its own separate page, found here.
Summary – Is Bioperine Or Pipeine Worth Trying?
So from reading this, you can tell that I'm really not yet convinced of the validity of using either Piperine, or Bioperine (the more bioavailable version) in terms of gaining higher levels of nutrient absorption.
I think the idea that these extracts could improve levels of intestinal absorption sounds like a relatively plausible theory, seeing as the benefits of black pepper on digestion have been widely known about for thousands of years.
As always within the health field, and in particular in the area of supplements, it's extremely hard to find out what's real, what can help, and what is a waste of money. Not to mention the waste of huge amounts of cash on useless supplements, but there is the risk that many supplements may actually HARM our health, instead of helping us to improve and feel better.
I'm yet to be convinced, as there is very little research that backs this up, and it's a type of supplement where the apparent benefits are extremely hard to self-quantify without expensive lab testing to back up the claims.
That being said, if you think that the very anecdotal evidence, and the fact that there seems to be a lot of acceptance in the validity of this as a supplement that successfully boosts absorption levels, then take a look at my quick Bioperine and Piperine supplement buyer's guide here.
What's Your Experience With Bioperine/Piperine Been?
I would love to hear your personal theories, and your opinion regarding the use of either of these extracts as relative absorption-boosting substances to increase the efficacy of taking supplements.
Have you tried either Piperine or Bioperine, and if so did you, or do you notice any desirable or undesirable results. Likewise, if you tried either of these and nothing happened, then that feedback is just as valuable.
Please comment below and tell us how long you used the supplements for, anything else that might have been affecting both the positive and negative outcomes, and what you noticed from using them. You can also make contact via the contact form if you need to discuss anything else.