Black Pepper and Bioavailability: What’s the Connection?

What comes to mind when you think of black pepper? It probably conjures thoughts of your kitchen and using it to impart a sharp, mildly spicy flavor to just about any savory dish. Black pepper is a staple ingredient, and it is one of the most widely used spices in the entire world.

When it comes to nutrition, black pepper is so much more than a household spice. It has actually been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries due to its unique combination of powerful, beneficial plant compounds. A few of the science-backed health benefits of black pepper include:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Improved brain function
  • High levels of antioxidants
  • Improved blood sugar control

One of the most impressive benefits of black pepper, however, is its ability to boost the bioavailability of essential nutrients that may not be absorbed into the body on their own.

Black pepper significantly improves the absorption of some of the most powerful botanicals out there, like turmeric and hemp extract

What is bioavailability?

Bioavailability refers to the degree to which nutrients are available for the body to effectively use, and the rate that they get absorbed into the body after they have been consumed. Basically, taking a supplement doesn’t necessarily mean that your body will absorb and use all the nutrients. It all depends on how much of that supplement is absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract.

As it turns out, piperine, a bioactive compound within black pepper, is extremely effective at boosting the bioavailability of some of today’s most powerful plant-based supplements – namely, turmeric and hemp extracts.

Black pepper and turmericturmeric rhizome root splice showing the vivid orange color

Turmeric and its main inflammation-relieving compound, Curcumin, are popular wellness supplements, with both ancient Ayurvedic tradition and modern science backing them up. With significant health benefits, it’s no wonder that this herb is revered worldwide, and has been throughout most of history. But, this golden spice comes with a catch – the bioavailability of curcumin, the most powerful healing agent within turmeric, is extremely low. Therefore, when taken alone, curcumin’s potential health benefits are lowered significantly.

When turmeric is taken alongside black pepper, however, absorption in the body can be improved by up to 2,000% according to clinical studies. Therefore, when taking supplements that include turmeric, it is imperative that black pepper, or piperine, is included to increase the bioavailability of the herb. Otherwise, your body will not fully absorb the nutrients, and the potential health benefits will be foregone.

Black pepper and hemp extract

Like turmeric, hemp is a rising star in today’s health and wellness scene, and it is available in many different forms.

Also similar to turmeric, piperine is able to increase the bioavailability of hemp by hindering the liver’s metabolic effects. Whether you take hemp for a better night’s sleep, discomfort, or mood, be sure to do what you can to maximize its bioavailability. And, if you see black pepper included as an ingredient in your hemp supplement, it’s a good sign.

Ultimately, black pepper carries a wide array of health benefits on its own, but when taken alongside an herb with low bioavailability, essential nutrients have a better chance of being absorbed, and all of the health benefits will be magnified.

Therefore, always be sure to look for black pepper on the label when buying supplements that contain ingredients like turmeric and hemp extract.