We were recently asked why our turmeric supplement, Curcu-Essentials, doesn’t contain pepper, as several other turmeric products on the market do. We thought this information would be of interest to others as well:
Pepper has a phytochemical called piperine in it. Piperine is added to turmeric supplements to help increase their absorption, since curcumin, the active phytochemical in turmeric, is not very bioavailable. Meaning, it’s not easily absorbed into the body, because there’s an enzyme in our intestines that impedes its absorption. Piperine disables this enzyme, thus allowing curcumin to be more easily absorbed, and enabling it to reach higher levels in the bloodstream. The potential problem with this is that it can also enable many medications to reach higher levels in the bloodstream than they normally would, because this same enzyme is also responsible for the metabolism and transportation of many types of drugs. To avoid this potential problem – and since many of our patients take multiple medications – we have chosen a turmeric extract that does not contain pepper or piperine. Instead, we use a special formula that contains essential oils of turmeric root, which improves the bioavailability of curcumin, without affecting the particular enzyme that piperine affects. The bioavailability of the extract that we use is about 6 times higher than plain turmeric. We believe it is a highly effective means of ensuring that curcumin reaches therapeutic levels in the bloodstream.