BioPerine is a trademarked form of black pepper extract. You can find BioPerine in a number of popular health supplements, where it’s typically added to “boost bioavailability”, which means it increases the absorption of a supplement into your bloodstream.
Does black pepper extract really help you lose weight? Can it help boost the absorption of multivitamin supplements? Is it an essential ingredient you should be taking on a daily basis? Find out today as we explore the science-backed health benefits of BioPerine.
What is BioPerine?
BioPerine, according to the manufacturer’s official website, is a proprietary formula derived from the Piper nigrum plant, the same plant responsible for growing black, green, and white peppercorns.
Why black pepper extract? Well, the extract contains a chemical compound called piperine. The makers of BioPerine claim that their formula is standardized to have a minimum content of 95% piperine. It’s this piperine that gives black pepper extract its active effects in the human body.
However, BioPerine contains more than just piperine. The remaining 5% of the formula is made up of other bioactive compounds, including a small number of alkaloids like piperidine, piperettine, and piperanine, as you can read in this chemical breakdown here.
There are also chemical compounds like terpinol, acetophenone, hexonal, nerol, nerolidol, cineol, dihydrocarveol, citral, pinene, and piperoinol. Many of these chemical compounds give black pepper fruit its uniquely pungent aroma.
Why are we telling you about this black pepper extract formula called BioPerine? It’s because we’ve seen it in a growing number of nutritional supplements over the past few years. The formula is made by Sabinsa Corporation, which licenses out the formula to other manufacturers.
Many nutritional supplements, diet pills, and weight loss formulas sold today list BioPerine as a key ingredient.
Is BioPerine Safe to Use?
Virtually all studies on BioPerine indicate that it’s safe to use when consumed in reasonable amounts. After all, the FDA would not allow BioPerine to be used in foods and supplements if it was not Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). Food additives only achieve GRAS status from the FDA after they’ve been subjected to an independent panel of scientists from the US Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA approved the use of BioPerine after reviewing a number of human and animal studies proving that the compound was safe.
That being said, consuming large amounts of BioPerine has been shown to lead to health issues. Some research has shown that taking turmeric and black pepper in large amounts can lead to it becoming lodged in the lungs, causing severe health problems. This is a particular problem in children.
Nevertheless, another study published in The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Journal showed that BioPerine was safe when taken in conjunction with curcumin (a chemical compound found in turmeric).
There’s also some organizations who believe that piperine is toxic. After the FDA approved BioPerine, for example, an American biotech company named Cayman Chemicals claimed that 100% concentrated piperine (which makes up 95% of BioPerine) is toxic when swallowed, and may irritate your skin or eyes upon contact.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also challenged BioPerine’s GRAS status after identifying different safety issues. One of the issues was that the European Food Safety Authority requested additional toxicology information to determine the safety of piperine, as well as the fact that the FDA ignored exposure warnings because it used outdated data that did not involve children.
Other educational organizations have also challenged the safety of piperine. Oregon Health and Science University claimed that more studies were needed before confirming the safety of piperine, for example, while the Michigan State University Environmental Health and Safety Department insists that piperine is toxic and harmful if swallowed.
Ultimately, there’s some controversy over whether or not BioPerine is a safe substance. Some studies – including studies reviewed and recognized by the FDA – show that piperine (which makes up 95% of BioPerine) is safe when used in reasonable quantities, while other studies show that the substance is dangerous and should not be consumed or exposed to the skin.
Where Does BioPerine Come From?
BioPerine is manufactured in a lab by the Sabinsa Corporation. Sabinsa sources its BioPerine from the Piper nigrum plant, which bears a type of fruit called black pepper fruit. These fruits contain the black peppercorns you see in your pepper grinder at home.
The black pepper fruit is known by a handful of different names including kali mirch, milagu, white pepper, and Madagascar pepper. The fruit grows in tropical locations around the world, so it’s understandable that it’s known by a wide range of different names.
Today, the Piper nigrum plant grows in tropical regions around the world, although it’s only native to one place: the Western Ghats mountain range in Kerala, in Southern India. Over its centuries of cultivation, the plant has spread throughout tropical regions of the world, including Thailand, Madagascar, Malaysia, and China.
Many farmers in these developing countries grow the fruit as a cash crop, which has fueled its rise in popularity around the world, as explained by the University of Wisconsin here.
The plant itself looks like a woody vine with small white clustered flowers and berries. The berries of the plant are what we know as peppercorns. Farmers pick these peppercorns when they’re half-ripe. Then, the peppercorns are dried. That’s what gives peppercorns their unique black appearance.
BioPerine Health Benefits
BioPerine has been linked to a number of health benefits, including weight loss, improved digestion, and better cardiovascular health. We’ll talk about all of those benefits below.
BioPerine and Weight Loss
Understandably, this is the BioPerine benefit people get most excited about. Unfortunately, scientific evidence linking BioPerine to weight loss is scarce. There just haven’t been many studies that attempt to connect BioPerine to weight loss.
One study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that BioPerine did not improve athletic performance when used as an ingredient in a thermogenic diet pill. That study involved college-aged men and studied BioPerine for its effects on “the performance and intensity of exercise”.
Some researchers have theorized that it’s possible BioPerine could lead to weight loss because it stimulates the breakdown of fat within the liver.
This idea was repeated in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology, where researchers wrote that “piperine possesses potential fat reducing and lipid lowering effects”. Researchers added that these effects could be observed “without any change in food appetite, at a small dose of 40mg/kg”.
In another study, researchers suggested similar effects linked to BioPerine, stating that piperine could inhibit adipogenesis, or the formation of fat, while acting as a potential treatment for obesity-related diseases.
Aside from these few studies, there have been some studies researching the effects of diet pills that use BioPerine. Many of these studies have shown that participants lose weight after taking the diet pill. However, since these diet pills contain dozens of ingredients, it’s unclear if BioPerine actually affected weight loss, or if it was the other ingredients in the diet pill.
One such study was performed on the diet pill Dyma-Burn Xtreme, for example, that showed the pill could improve energy burning, mood, and cardiovascular measurements. Dyma-Burn Xtreme contains BioPerine.
BioPerine and Gastrointestinal Health
Some people believe taking BioPerine can improve your gastrointestinal and digestive health. Specifically, some claim that black pepper extract can lead to all of the following benefits:
- Decrease food transit time within the GI tract
- Prevent and reduce symptoms of diarrhea
- Increase gastric secretions
- Increase saliva production
- Boost the secretion of bile from the liver
- Increase intestinal lipase
One study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research supported the above benefits of black pepper extract on digestive health. Researchers particularly praised the ability of black pepper extract to boost gastric, salivary, and bile secretions.
Most people who believe in the digestive benefits of BioPerine and piperine will link back to this Indian study, as it demonstrates a wide range of GI tract health benefits linked to piperine.
BioPerine and Bioavailability
When supplement manufacturers add BioPerine to their formula, they often state that it’s done to “improve bioavailability”, which means that it increases the absorption of other nutrients.
This effect has been seen in a small number of studies. One study in the Journal of Food Science, for example, found that piperine increased the absorption of an antihistamine prescription medication called fexofenadine in the GI tract. Antihistamines are taken to alleviate allergy symptoms.
Another study showed that piperine was particularly effective at boosting the bioavailability of turmeric, the popular spice prized for its antioxidative and purported cancer-fighting benefits (using the active compound curcumin). The study, which was published in Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, concluded that, “the results from the present study demonstrated that co-administration of curcumin plus piperine is better than administration of curcumin alone”.
Researchers were specifically examining how curcumin could be used to treat hyperlipidemia (HLP), a condition in which people have constituently high levels of fat in the blood, leading to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
BioPerine and Cardiovascular Benefits
We just mentioned that piperine was examined for its ability to treat HLP in conjunction with curcumin. Researchers found that using piperine with curcumin was more effective than using curcumin alone for treating hyperlipidemia. Hyperlipidemia is a condition where you have unusually high levels of fat in your blood, a condition that can lead to a significantly higher risk of heart disease. That makes BioPerine a powerful ally for cardiovascular health.
Another study examined the effects of piperine on the cardiovascular health of cows and found that it prevented high potassium buildup in the bloodstream, a condition that can cause ventricular arrhythmia when left untreated.
Fans of BioPerine will often cite another study where piperine reduced symptoms associated with human metabolic syndrome. That study did show that piperine reduced metabolic syndrome symptoms. However, it wasn’t performed on humans: it was performed on rats, so the results might not necessarily carry over to humans.
Another study published in a Slovakian research journal showed that piperine could prevent the increase of blood pressure (although it did not specifically lower blood pressure).
Other BioPerine Health Benefits
Piperine has been studied for its connection to a number of other health benefits over the years. One study published in Critical Reviews in Foods Science Nutrition showed that black pepper contains powerful antioxidants, antimicrobials, anti-inflammatory, gastro-protective, and anti-depressant compounds, including volatile oil, oleoresins, and alkaloids.
Another study published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology was very positive about the health benefits of piperine, linking it to a number of powerful effects:
“Piperine has many pharmacological effects and several health benefits, especially against chronic diseases, such as reduction of insulin resistance, anti-inflammatory effects, and improvement of hepatic steatosis.”
Overall, piperine and BioPerine have been linked to a diverse range of health benefits, although there have been few studies that definitively prove any significant health benefits linked directly to piperine.
What Are the Side Effects of BioPerine?
As we mentioned at the top of this article, there’s some controversy over whether or not BioPerine and piperine are safe to take. Piperine has been associated with a number of side effects over the years. In fact, as DietSpotlight.com explained, “side effects have been reported, almost as much as BioPerine benefits.”
Some of the most common side effects included:
- BioPerine may cause minor gastrointestinal discomfort according to Dr. Ray Sahelian at his official website, RaySahelian.com. Dr. Ray, however, claimed that there were no significant studies reinforcing that information.
- Others claim they experience a burning aftertaste after consuming black pepper (not specifically piperine). Some people react with heartburn and general pain after eating black pepper as well, although this is a well-known effect and part of the reason why black pepper is used as a popular spice. Still, many people (like these reviewers on WebMD) claim that they experienced these symptoms after taking black pepper extract supplements as well.
- Michigan State University, as mentioned at the top of this article, believes that piperine has some safety issues. They claim to have found evidence that it can cause problems with your gastrointestinal system and respiratory tract, for example, and lead to side effects like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They also claim piperine has been linked to fetal and birth defects in animals.
Should You Take BioPerine?
BioPerine is a type of black pepper extract consisting of 95% piperine. The extract is made and trademarked by a company named Sabinsa Corporation.
Typically, BioPerine is added to foods and supplements to enhance nutrient absorption. There’s some evidence that the piperine in BioPerine can also lead to cardiovascular benefits, digestive health benefits, and weight loss – even when taken on its own.
Overall, BioPerine needs further research to confirm its health benefits, safety, and efficacy. However, it’s generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, which means that the compound has passed strict tests to ensure that it’s safe for the American public to consume in normal amounts.
You may want to wait for more research to confirm the health benefits of BioPerine, but most current research indicates that it’s a safe supplement to take when used in normal amounts.