Partners that Increase Turmeric Compound Bioavailability

Black Pepper

Combining curcumin with other substances such as piperine safely increases its bioavailability. In a human study, researchers gave the healthy volunteers 20 mg of piperine along with 2 grams of curcumin. The piperine increased the length of time curcumin was detectable in the blood. It also raised the concentration levels of available curcumin. (i.51)

Piperine is perhaps the best known bioenhancer substances that boost the effects of medicines. How do they work? In general, bioenhancers increase the bioavailability of drug compounds. Ways to improve bioavailability include: (i.98-99)

  • Increasing how much of the drug is absorbed.
  • Slowing down drug metabolism and excretion from the body.
  • Blocking pump proteins that prevent drugs from reaching target areas in the body.

Piperine Dramatically Increases Curcumin's Bioavailability

The effects of piperine only lasted a short period of time (1-2 hours). However, it increased curcumin's bioavailability by 2000%. The increase caused no negative side effects in the volunteers. (i.51)

Research in animals suggests the effects of piperine are enough to enhance the beneficial effects of curcumin. Piperine may even increase curcumin's bioavailability in organs far from the intestinal organs. (i.51-53)

For example, in one animal study curcumin was shown to increase serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain. When piperine was administered with curcumin, together they raised the levels of these brain chemicals more than when curcumin was given by itself. This enhanced curcumin's antidepressant effects. (i.52-53)

Studies show that one of the main ways piperine works is by affecting enzyme levels in the intestines. Piperine increases or suppresses different enzymes involved in breaking down drugs after they're ingested. Interestingly, curcumin compounds in turmeric have similar bioenhancing effects. (i.98-99)

Results of a randomized, controlled clinical trial published in late 2014 support results found in animal studies. It showed that turmeric's curcumin compounds combined with piperine helped reduce cholesterol levels in patients with metabolic syndrome. (i.100)

Other Nutrient Combinations

Taking turmeric or curcumin with quercetin and alpha lipoic acid may also increase bioavailability. Combining turmeric and curcumin with oils could also help (e.g., turmeric's own essential oil or fish oil derivatives). Clinical trials are underway to help determine which combinations are most effective in terms of treating conditions such as Alzheimer's disease(i.42-4446)

Ginger is an herb in the same family as turmeric. Its gingerol compounds are known to increase the bioavailability of many drugs (e.g., antibiotics, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-cancer drugs). It could also enhance turmeric effects by increasing absorption. (i.199-100)

In fact, the combination of ginger and turmeric's curcumin compounds appear to work better together than separately against periodontitis. Topical ointments that contain curcumin and ginger extracts may also heal skin wounds better than corticosteroid creams by themselves. (i.101-102)

The main alkaloid compound in black pepper (the spice). (i.53)
Neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. (i.52-53)

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