It’s no secret that switching up your spice rack can have a huge impact on health. In fact, more and more health care professionals have started subscribing to a “food is medicine” mentality and now are putting the focus on what you put on your plate rather than what’s in your medicine cabinet. Ingredients like turmeric and black pepper, for example, are jam-packed with benefits and have been shown to have a powerful impact on health when used together.
So do you need black pepper to absorb turmeric? And what are the benefits of turmeric and black pepper when used together? Let’s take a closer look.
How Turmeric and Black Pepper Work Together
Turmeric and black pepper have each been associated with several health benefits. Combined, however, the health-promoting properties of these two ingredients are amplified exponentially.
Why do you need black pepper with turmeric? To put it simply, turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which is responsible for the majority of its powerful health benefits. Likewise, black pepper also contains an alkaloid known as piperine, which has also been shown to have medicinal properties that are thought to be therapeutic in the treatment of many conditions.
Curcumin is poorly absorbed by the body on its own. Pairing it with piperine, however, can significantly boost its absorption and allow the body to use it more efficiently. Interestingly enough, one study conducted by the Department of Pharmacology at St. John’s Medical College in India even found that administering the two together increased the bioavailability of curcumin by 2,000 percent.
When combined, these two ingredients can come with some serious benefits, ranging from decreased inflammation to better digestion and beyond.
1. May Aid in Weight Loss
Many people use turmeric and black pepper for weight loss, thanks to the ability of this powerful combination to boost fat-burning and prevent weight gain. According to one in vitro study published in Biofactors, curcumin could help block the growth of fat cells to reduce obesity. Another animal study showed that administering curcumin and piperine to mice increased fat loss and reduced inflammation.
2. Decrease Inflammation
Black pepper and turmeric can have a powerful impact on inflammation. In fact, one study published in Oncogene actually tested the anti-inflammatory properties of several different compounds and found that curcumin was among the most potent. In addition to enhancing the absorption of curcumin, piperine has been shown to boast its own set of anti-inflammatory effects as well. A 2009 animal model out of Korea actually found that piperine was effective at reducing several markers of inflammation in rats with arthritis.
3. Contain Cancer-Fighting Properties
In recent years, the use of turmeric and black pepper for cancer has been heavily researched. Although current research is limited mostly to in vitro studies, studies suggest that curcumin could help block the growth and spread of cancer cells while still preserving the viability of healthy cells. Similarly, piperine has been shown to help kill off cancer cells and prevent tumor formation in test-tube studies, with some research indicating that it could be beneficial in the treatment of colon cancer.
4. Support Digestive Health
In many forms of traditional medicine, turmeric and black pepper have been used to soothe digestive issues and optimize nutrient absorption. Recent research also shows that the active compounds in each could be incredibly beneficial. Studies show that curcumin could be therapeutic for inflammatory digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Plus, piperine may also help promote proper digestion by stimulating digestive enzymes in the pancreas.
5. Reduce Pain
Using turmeric and black pepper for arthritis can be an effective way to manage pain and treat symptoms right at the source. This is because, in addition to having anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties, turmeric and black pepper have been shown to act as natural pain relievers as well.
For example, an animal study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine demonstrated that piperine is effective at treating pain in rats after just two hours, even when used in lower doses. Another study out of India also found that administering turmeric to post-operative patients helped significantly decrease pain and fatigue compared to a placebo.
Turmeric and Black Pepper Recipes
There are plenty of turmeric and black pepper recipe ideas out there, plus detailed instructions for how to make turmeric and black pepper capsules — not to mention how to make turmeric and black pepper drinks, soups, sauces, desserts and more.
Here are a few simple recipes to help get you started:
- Blended Pea Soup with Chickpeas
- Turmeric and Black Pepper Tea (also try our Turmeric Tea)
- Soba Noodles with Turmeric Thai Sauce
- Coconnut Turmeric Bites
- Turmeric Latte
Risks and Side Effects
In addition to the many benefits associated with these two spices, there are several turmeric and black pepper side effects that should be considered as well. While sprinkling a dash or two in your favorite dishes is unlikely to cause any adverse symptoms, taking turmeric and black pepper supplements may. In particular, supplementation has been associated with side effects like nausea, diarrhea, decreased blood pressure and an increased risk of bleeding.
How much turmeric and black pepper should you take daily? Although there is no official recommended turmeric and black pepper dosage, most research has been conducted using doses between 500–2,000 milligrams per day of curcumin and around 20 milligrams of piperine. Other studies suggest a turmeric and black pepper ratio of approximately 100:1 for best results.
To minimize side effects and maximize the potential health benefits, however, be sure to use only as directed. Additionally, consult with your doctor prior to starting supplementation if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns.