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What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric and Black Pepper?

by George Boskos
What are the Health Benefits of Turmeric and Black Pepper?

This article in a nutshell:    

Aside from being tasty additions to food, black pepper and turmeric have excellent health benefits. Black pepper increases the number of nutrients your bloodstream absorbs. Turmeric is noted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms.  

Black pepper and turmeric, when combined, boost the other’s health benefits. 

You can easily incorporate the benefits of turmeric and black pepper by adding them directly to your food or through a supplement like VitaBright's Organic Turmeric capsules.

    Black pepper and turmeric have recently gained popularity in the health and wellness world—and for the right reasons. Both originating in Asia, black pepper and turmeric have a wide range of health benefits that modern scientists are only beginning to uncover.

    What are the benefits of black pepper and turmeric, and how should you use these spices to reap their benefits to the fullest? Read on to find out.


    Black Pepper & Piperine

    Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is one of the most sought-after spices, not only because of its use in cuisine but also for its medicinal properties. Black pepper is a flowering vine of the Piperaceae family cultivated for its fruit. Each fruit contains a stone that encloses a single pepper seed, which we recognize—after drying—as peppercorn or pepper.

    Also known as pippali in Sanskrit, black pepper is native to South and Southeast Asia. In particular, black pepper is derived from the tropical forests of the Malabar Coast in southwest India and has been used in Indian cuisine since at least 2000 BCE. So important was black pepper’s place in the ancient world that it was referred to as “black gold” and used in trading. 

    Today, black pepper remains a culinary wonder. Its uses range from acting as a preservative to adding spice to a dish. Black pepper owes its spicy heat characteristic to the presence of the chemical compound piperine. Piperine distinguishes the taste of black pepper from other spices, such as chili peppers. A natural alkaloid, piperine also gives black pepper its unique pungent taste.

    As such, black pepper is used to add flavour to almost every food around the world. In India, black pepper is used for garam masala (an essential spice mix). Along with cloves, nutmeg, and dried ginger, the French use black pepper for quatre epices. Black pepper is prominent in Arabic spice mixtures such as zhoug, baharat, and berebere. And who could forget lemon pepper, which proves to be the perfect fish seasoning?

    But piperine does not only make black pepper a flavour enhancer, it also adds numerous health benefits.

    With the help of piperine, adding black pepper to your dishes can increase the amount of nutrients your bloodstream absorbs. First isolated by Danish chemist Hans Christian Oersted in 1819, piperine can enhance the bioavailability of some other vitamins and minerals. In particular, piperine has been observed to inhibit P-glycoprotein and CYP3A4, which are enzymes involved in the use and transportation of various metabolites. 

    As such, piperine can help increase the efficacy of other nutrients, such as vitamin B6, beta-carotene, and selenium. Piperine can also help manage stress. By increasing the production of adrenalin and other catecholamines, piperine may help ease temporary stress. Additionally, piperine possesses the thermogenic properties necessary for increasing the body’s metabolic rate—a mechanism that may support weight management.


    Turmeric and Curcumin

    Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a flowering plant and a member of the ginger family. This plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia and is cultivated for its rhizomes, which are widely used in cuisine.

    With a mustard-like aroma and a pungent, slightly bitter flavour, turmeric is a key ingredient in Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. While it is used mostly in savoury dishes, turmeric is also an ingredient in sweet dishes, such as sfouf, an almond-semolina cake of Lebanese origin. Iranian khoresh recipes call for sauteing onions in oil and turmeric. Kuning is a Filipino rice dish prepared with turmeric, lemongrass, salt, bay leaves, and other spices. Meanwhile, India not only uses the rhizomes of turmeric but also its leaves, upon which rice flour and coconut-jaggery are placed and steamed. Turmeric has also been used in refreshing beverages, such as turmeric latte, also known as ‘golden milk’ that has gained cult popularity around the world.

    Turmeric also has spiritual roots. In India, Hindu and Buddhist monks and priests often bring turmeric with them as they spread their teachings in Southeast Asia. The Austronesian peoples meanwhile use turmeric in their animistic rituals.

    Beyond its culinary and spiritual uses, turmeric has also been used extensively for its medical properties for centuries. It plays a major part in traditional medicinal systems such as Ayurveda (where it is known as haridra), Siddha medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and the Perso-Arabic medicine, Unani. Although traditional medical systems were the first to use turmeric for its health applications, its medicinal properties have also been observed by modern scientists.

    If you’ve ever noticed turmeric’s warm, bitter and black pepper-like flavour (and loved it), you can thank curcumin. Curcumin is a chemical compound that gives turmeric its beautiful yellow colour. It’s also what imparts turmeric’s distinct personality and earthy aroma. Furthermore, curcumin’s powerful biological properties hold the key to turmeric’s health benefits.

    Curcumin was first discovered in the 1800s by Pierre Joseph Pelletier and Henri Auguste Vogel. Its antibacterial properties were reported in 1949. Over the years, curcumin has garnered interest dramatically.

    Curcumin—the active ingredient in turmeric—is widely noted for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Research suggests that curcumin may help in managing oxidative conditions, metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, and hyperlipidemia. Curcumin may also help in managing inflammation and muscle soreness, and as such can enhance recovery in active people.  

    Turmeric has also been shown to relieve pain, with another study showing that the spice seems to be as effective as ibuprofen in treating arthritis-related pain. Studies have also suggested that curcumin shows promise in treating human diseases such as diabetes, obesity, chronic illnesses, and cancer.


    Why the Combination of Turmeric and Black Pepper Can Boost Health Benefits

    While curcumin’s health benefits make it sound like a cure-all, its downside lies in its poor bioavailability. Due to rapid metabolism and systemic elimination, curcumin is poorly absorbed and used by the body.

    Yet, studies have shown that the piperine in black pepper can help increase the bioavailability of curcumin in turmeric. This means that it can be easier for the body to absorb curcumin when taken in combination with piperine. A study by the team at St. John's Medical College, demonstrated that adding 20mg of piperine to 2 grams of curcumin increased the body’s absorption of curcumin by 2000%.

    These characteristics make black pepper and turmeric the perfect combination for boosting health benefits. And because they make such a tremendous culinary pair, you can easily incorporate these two into your diet. A few simple dishes you can spice up with a mixture of black pepper and turmeric include scrambled eggs, sauteed or roasted vegetables, soups, salad dressings, mustards, smoothies, and, of course, rice.


    How Much Turmeric and Black Pepper Should You Add to Food?

    Studies indicate that taking 5–20 mg of piperine a day is generally safe. In the study that evaluated the influence of piperine on curcumin, no adverse effects were reported when piperine was administered to healthy human volunteers. As such, black pepper is considered safe when used in typical amounts. 

    It is important to note that black pepper and piperine may promote the absorption of other drugs. It is thus best to consult with a physician when considering taking piperine as a dietary supplement.

    While there are no official guidelines on how much turmeric should be taken daily for maximum efficacy, a study associated the regular consumption of curry, where turmeric is an important ingredient, with cognitive health.

    Meanwhile, 500 mg of turmeric extracts taken twice daily showed promising results in treating osteoarthritis and itchy skin. An increase of 700 mg of turmeric extract showed promising results for high cholesterol when taken twice daily.

    The safety of curcumin has long been established. The Joint United Nations, World Health Organization Expert Committee on Food Additives, and the European Food Safety Authority indicate that taking up to 3 mg of curcumin per kg of body weight is safe. 

    On the other hand, adverse effects from consuming larger amounts of curcumin have been documented. Participants who received 500–12,000 mg of curcumin in a study experienced diarrhoea, headaches, rash, and yellow stools within 72 hours of administration. In another study, subjects who received 0.45 to 3.6 g of curcumin a day for one to four months reported nausea and diarrhoea.

    Takeaway Points

    While turmeric has its own powerful health benefits such as its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the benefits are increased when paired with black pepper, which has its own range of benefits, such as stress management and weight loss.

    With their distinct taste and aroma, turmeric and black pepper married together can greatly enhance your experience with food while boosting your health and immunity, making it an easy addition to your diet. 

    You can easily incorporate turmeric and black pepper into your taste by adding them to the usual food you eat, such as scrambled eggs and roasted vegetables. But if you feel like exploring the culinary taste of other cultures (and maybe challenging your cooking skills) while boosting your health and wellness, why not try the turmeric and black pepper dishes we mentioned in this article?

    In today’s world, not a lot of people have the luxury of time to make their meals. If you are one of those people, do not fret. By choosing a good, quality supplement like VitaBright's Organic Turmeric capsules, you can still reap the maximum health benefits of turmeric and black pepper conveniently and cost-effectively. 

    Oraganic Turmeric Curcumin 1440mg-2160mg with Organic Black Pepper

    by George Boskos
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