Last updated: August 30, 2021

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Are you a fan of spices? It’s hard not to be. They’re the condiments that make your culinary life a journey into flavor. Turmeric and pepper are no exception! If you’ve cooked with them, you’re well aware of the incredible flavors and aromas they bring to food.

I’ll let you in on a secret: aside from being delicious spices, turmeric and pepper have incomparable medicinal properties. You can make use of their health benefits by adding them to your favorite dishes or taking supplement capsules which deliver their effects in higher concentration. This guide will tell you how!




Summary

  • Turmeric is a spice with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Those characteristics have a wide variety of benefits for your body.
  • Black pepper is rich in vitamins and minerals. When combined with turmeric, it can enhance its absorption by an incredible 2,000%.
  • Supplements which combine turmeric with black pepper have been shown to be more effective. It’s important to choose supplement products with good combinations of ingredients and adequately high amounts of curcumin (turmeric’s active ingredient).

The Best Turmeric With Pepper in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Buyer’s Guide: What You Need to Know About Turmeric and Pepper

Curcuma longa L., the plant commonly known as turmeric, comes to us from Southeast Asia. It’s known for its medicinal effects, which have made it an important part of Eastern medicine practices like Ayurveda (1). Pepper, meanwhile, has an active ingredient called piperine which can increase the amount of turmeric absorbed in the intestinal tract, strengthening its effects. Let’s go more in depth on this incredible combination!

Turmeric is one of the star ingredients of many Asian cuisines.
(Source: Lightfieldstudios: 111231641/ 123rf.com)

Why Combine Turmeric and Pepper?

Sadly, curcumin – the biologically active component of turmeric – is very hard for your body to make use of. That’s where pepper comes to the rescue. Its incredible properties open the door for turmeric to be accepted by the body, absorbed, and used.

How does it do that? The piperine in pepper is able to “trick” intestinal cells, which usually don’t absorb curcumin. Piperine serves as a sort of “chaperone” facilitating curcumin’s entrance into the bloodstream.

Multiple studies have shown that black pepper can increase the bioavailability of turmeric by up to 2,000% (2). (Bioavailability refers to the amount of a drug or substance which actually reaches the bloodstream.) It seems like an unbelievable number, but it’s all too real; it demonstrates the incredible importance of combining pepper with curcumin.

It’s important to choose a turmeric supplement which contains enough curcumin. (Source: Photodee: 96860832/ 123rf.com)

What Are the Effects of Turmeric and Pepper?

As we’ve said before, turmeric and black pepper have medicinal properties because of their active components: curcumin and piperine, respectively. Those components complement each other, promoting the therapeutic effects of both:

  1. Antimicrobial: These two components combined may have preventative effects against bacteria and fungus (5). In addition, studies suggest that curcumin can enhance the effects of some antibiotics like vancomycin and cefixime (6).
  2. Anti-inflammatory: Both pepper and turmeric combat inflammation. These effects may help relieve pain from degenerative conditions like knee arthrosis (7).
  3. Antioxidant: Cell oxidation is a natural process which generates free radicals that “kill” cells, eventually causing our bodies to age. Turmeric and pepper both have antioxidant properties which help prevent these free radicals from appearing.
  4. Anti-cancer:  The combination of turmeric and pepper could be the next step in cancer therapies (8, 9). This potential benefit is, however, still in the early stages of study.
  5. Hypolipemiant: Excess buildup of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides can negatively impact your cardiovascular system. The combined effects of turmeric and black pepper reduce your body’s levels of those compounds, protecting your heart and blood vessels (10).
  6. Immunomodulator: Your immune system is what protects you from attack by outside organisms. Research has observed that curcumin could be an important ally for these defensive mechanisms.
  7. Protects the nervous system: Studies suggest that curcumin could help prevent the neural degeneration which occurs in people with certain conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease (10). These effects could be enhanced by adding black pepper.

Can Turmeric and Pepper Help Me Lose Weight?

According to research at Tufts University, turmeric could reduce the growth of fatty tissue, potentially helping lower body fat (11). That’s not to say that this spice is a magic weight loss fix; much of the weight loss process has to do with other aspects of your day-to-day life.

If you combine turmeric supplements with a balanced diet and at least 30 minutes of exercise three times a week, you may have found the ideal recipe to meet your health and wellness goals!

The type of pepper combined with turmeric is also important. Black pepper is most effective.
(Source: Thamkc: 51692074/ 123rf.com)

Does Turmeric and Pepper in Food Have the Same Effect as Supplements?

Not quite. Though turmeric and pepper are inarguably tasty spices, cooking them makes them lose some of their natural properties. Plus, turmeric powder has a relatively low concentration of curcumin.

But don’t lose hope! One experiment found that turmeric still kept its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (albeit to a smaller degree) even after being boiled, cooked, or fried (12). Plus, combining the turmeric in food with healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, and avocado reduces the amount the body breaks down.

Did you know that thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, curcumin is being researched as a potential treatment for certain tumors?

What Are Turmeric and Pepper’s Side Effects?

Turmeric and pepper have few side effects when used according to medical advice. However, keep an eye out for the following effects:

  1. Altered effects of medications: Black pepper’s effect-strengthening ability doesn’t just apply to nutrients. It also applies to other substances, including medications (13). This is the case with carbamazepine, midazolam, and diclofenac (14). Results may include drug toxicity or unwanted symptoms. Ask your doctor before taking supplements, especially if you’re on medication.
  2. Skin irritation: Pepper is an irritative agent which should never be applied topically. Turmeric may cause allergic reactions on the skin or scalp of sensitive individuals (15).
  3. Stomach damage: High doses of these supplements can damage the innermost layer of the stomach (the gastric mucosa) (16). This increases the odds of developing ulcers and perforations.
  4. Allergic reactions: If you develop red or itchy skin after taking these supplements, or have trouble breathing, stop taking them and contact emergency services right away.

Who Shouldn’t Take Turmeric and Pepper?

Before starting use of any dietary supplement, you should first ask your doctor. This is especially true for certain groups:

  • Pregnant women: Turmeric may stimulate uterine contractions during pregnancy (17), which could lead to premature labor or even miscarriage. Similarly, high doses of pepper have abortive effects.
  • People with kidney or liver problems: All substances are mainly metabolized by the liver and kidneys. If they’re not functioning properly, taking medications and supplements can cause toxicity.
  • People with gallstones: Taking turmeric supplements may worsen symptoms for people with gallstones. This is because turmeric stimulates bile secretion, potentially leading to severe pain.
  • People on regular medical treatment (people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart problems): Natural supplements can interact with your medications to either increase or lower their effectiveness. You should only take supplements with medical supervision, especially if you suffer from chronic conditions.
  • People set to undergo surgery: Turmeric can interfere with blood clotting, which could result in hemorrhage (excess bleeding) during surgical procedures. Ask your doctor about taking supplements before surgery.
  • People with blood-related conditions: These supplements should not be given to people with anemia or problems with blood clotting.
  • Children and adolescents: Turmeric and pepper supplements should never be given to children without a pediatrician’s approval.

Shopping Criteria

If you’ve read this far, you’re ready to choose the best supplement for your health needs. We’re here to make sure you’re armed with knowledge! Using these guidelines, you can become a complete expert in turmeric and pepper supplements.

Format

If you don’t know whether to choose a liquid, a chewable pill, or an ointment, don’t worry! This uncertainty is common for users of any supplement. We’ll walk you through:

Format Pros Cons
Capsules Most common form sold

Most affordable

Easy to measure doses

Capsules may contain gluten or non-vegetarian ingredients

Cannot be used on food

Powder Usually vegan and gluten-free

Can be used to enrich food

Non-standardized doses

Effectiveness not guaranteed due to low bioavailability

Liquid Higher curcumin content

Better absorption

Harder to find

Less affordable

Topical (Turmeric Only) Can have antimicrobial effects on skin May irritate skin and scalp

Plenty of research has been done about the most effective turmeric dosage. Studies have also investigated the ideal curcumin content and the required amounts of piperine to maximize the benefits of both components. If you want to achieve maximum potency when using these spices, select a product which complies with recommended dosage:

  • Turmeric: 500 to 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day
  • Curcumin: Should make up 93% to 95 % of turmeric
  • Piperine: 20mg

Black pepper may be more effective than white pepper when combining with turmeric.
(Source: Neumiler: 100718011/ 123rf.com)

Curcumin Content

Because curcumin is the primary active component of turmeric, it’s the star ingredient in all turmeric supplements. If you’re looking for a product which contains sufficient amounts of this compound, make sure it’s at least 93% curcumin (19).

Vegan-Safe Products

Though turmeric and pepper are 100% plant-based, the ingredients added to supplements may not be. As such, look for supplements which are certified vegan and avoid these ingredients:

  • Gelatin: Some capsules are made with gelatin as an ingredient. Gelatin is extracted from animal bones and cartilage, making it a giant “no” for both vegans and vegetarians.
  • Vitamin D3: This nutrient can come from plant sources, but in many cases it’s extracted from fish liver. Avoid products which do not specify their vitamin D3’s origin.
Joseph MercolaNatural Health Expert
"The best way to eat turmeric is raw. When you cook with it, the heat from cooking can make it lose effect.”

Gluten-Free Products

Avoid any product containing wheat, barley, spelt, oats, rye, or triticale. Celiac-safe products should be identified as such with words like “gluten-free” or certified gluten-free seals (20).

Summary

Whether you’re a passionate cook or a fan of natural health, turmeric and pepper are ingredients you should always keep at home. Turmeric on its own offers significant health benefits, but the body cannot absorb it in sufficient amounts – and thus cannot make use of its effects. That’s where black pepper comes in, since it strengthens substances’ effects by boosting absorption in the digestive tract.

The supplements you can find online contain a wide variety of ingredients and concentrations. It’s crucial to follow medical advice and pick the supplement best suited to your specific needs and diet.

If you enjoyed this article and you’d like to see more interesting content like this, leave us a comment and share this guide!

(Featured image source: Thamkc: 51692215/ 123rf.com)

References (25)

1. Paula S. Cúrcuma [Internet]. Reduca (Biología). Serie Botánica. 2014. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Source

2. Susan J., Douglas S. Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health [Internet]. Foods | An Open Access Journal from MDPI. 2017. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Source

3. Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación [Internet]. mapa.gob.es. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
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4. Tiwari A, Mahadik KR, Gabhe SY. Piperine: A comprehensive review of methods of isolation, purification, and biological properties. Medicine in Drug Discovery [Internet]. 2020;100027. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

5. Ramírez T., Aguilera C., Ramírez A., Gil A. Efectos farmacológicos y nutricionales de los extractos de Curcuma longa L. y de los cucuminoides [Internet]. Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular. Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de Alimentos. Ramón y Cajal. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Source

6. Poonam T., Madhuri S., Himani K., Anita K., Kasturi M. Bactericidal Activity of Curcumin I Is Associated with Damaging of Bacterial Membrane [Internet]. PLos One. 2015. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

7. Rober H. MD., Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work? [Internet]. Harvard Health Publishing. 2019. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

8. Vasavirama K, Mahesh U. Piperine: A valuable alkaloid from piper species [Internet]. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2014. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Source

9. Mario P. y Cols. Curcumin and Health [Internet]. MDPI. 2016. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

10. Kwok K. y cols. Highly Stabilized Curcumin Nanoparticles Tested in an-In Vitro Blood–Brain Barrier Model and in Alzheimer’s Disease Tg2576 Mice [Internet]. The APPS Journal. 2013. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

11. Turmeric Extract Suppresses Fat Tissue Growth in Rodent Models.” Tufts Now, 29 Aug. 2012. [Consultado el 9 de junio del 2020].
Source

12. Sun, Jian-Long, et al. “Impact of Cooking on the Antioxidant Activity of Spice Turmeric.” Food & Nutrition Research, vol. 63, no. 0, 2019, doi:10.29219/fnr.v63.3451. [Consultado el 9 de junio del 2020].
Source

13. Estefanía B. y Cols. The dark side of curcumin. International Journal of Cancer [Internet]. 2010; 126(1771):1771–5. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

14. Horn, John R. “Piperine Drug Interactions.” Pharmacy Times, 2017. [Consultado el 9 de junio del 2020].
Source

15. Alfonso V., Esther M. Pimienta [Internet]. Guía de plantas medicinales del Magreb. 2010 [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

16. Alfredo C. Avances en la caracterización farmacotoxicológica de la planta medicinal Curcuma longa Linn. MEDISAN. [Internet]. 2012. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

17. María C. Propiedades terapéuticas de la pimienta (Piper nigrum). Panoramaactual del medicamento. 2009; 33 (326): 878-882. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

18. Shrikant M., Kalpana P. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview [Internet]. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. 2008. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

19. Tayyem R. Heath D., Al-Delaimy W., Rock C. Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders [Internet]. Nutrition and Cancer 2006. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Source

20. Medicamentos [Internet]. FACE. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Source

21. Maria R. Cómo saber si un medicamento tiene gluten [Internet]. Real E Ilustre Colegio de Farmacéuticos de Sevilla. 2015 [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020]
Source

22. Turmeric [Internet]. Webmd.com. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Source

23. Examine.com. Black Pepper Supplement - Health Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects [Internet]. Examine.com. 2019.[Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Source

24. Masoumi A, Goldenson B, Ghirmai S, Avagyan H, Zaghi J, Abel K, et al. 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 Interacts with Curcuminoids to Stimulate Amyloid-β Clearance by Macrophages of Alzheimers Disease Patients. Journal of Alzheimers Disease [Internet]. 2009Jan;17(3):703–17. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Source

25. Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of turmeric (Curcuma longa) [Internet]. US National Library of Medicine. 2003. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Source

Scientific article
Paula S. Cúrcuma [Internet]. Reduca (Biología). Serie Botánica. 2014. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Susan J., Douglas S. Curcumin: A Review of Its’ Effects on Human Health [Internet]. Foods | An Open Access Journal from MDPI. 2017. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Official website
Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación [Internet]. mapa.gob.es. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Tiwari A, Mahadik KR, Gabhe SY. Piperine: A comprehensive review of methods of isolation, purification, and biological properties. Medicine in Drug Discovery [Internet]. 2020;100027. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Ramírez T., Aguilera C., Ramírez A., Gil A. Efectos farmacológicos y nutricionales de los extractos de Curcuma longa L. y de los cucuminoides [Internet]. Departamento de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular. Instituto de Nutrición y Tecnología de Alimentos. Ramón y Cajal. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
In vitro study
Poonam T., Madhuri S., Himani K., Anita K., Kasturi M. Bactericidal Activity of Curcumin I Is Associated with Damaging of Bacterial Membrane [Internet]. PLos One. 2015. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Official Website Blog - Harvard
Rober H. MD., Curcumin for arthritis: Does it really work? [Internet]. Harvard Health Publishing. 2019. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Peer review
Vasavirama K, Mahesh U. Piperine: A valuable alkaloid from piper species [Internet]. International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2014. [Consultado el 5 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Mario P. y Cols. Curcumin and Health [Internet]. MDPI. 2016. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
In vitro study
Kwok K. y cols. Highly Stabilized Curcumin Nanoparticles Tested in an-In Vitro Blood–Brain Barrier Model and in Alzheimer’s Disease Tg2576 Mice [Internet]. The APPS Journal. 2013. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Turmeric Extract Suppresses Fat Tissue Growth in Rodent Models.” Tufts Now, 29 Aug. 2012. [Consultado el 9 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Clinical trial in rats
Sun, Jian-Long, et al. “Impact of Cooking on the Antioxidant Activity of Spice Turmeric.” Food & Nutrition Research, vol. 63, no. 0, 2019, doi:10.29219/fnr.v63.3451. [Consultado el 9 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Estefanía B. y Cols. The dark side of curcumin. International Journal of Cancer [Internet]. 2010; 126(1771):1771–5. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Horn, John R. “Piperine Drug Interactions.” Pharmacy Times, 2017. [Consultado el 9 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Book
Alfonso V., Esther M. Pimienta [Internet]. Guía de plantas medicinales del Magreb. 2010 [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Alfredo C. Avances en la caracterización farmacotoxicológica de la planta medicinal Curcuma longa Linn. MEDISAN. [Internet]. 2012. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
María C. Propiedades terapéuticas de la pimienta (Piper nigrum). Panoramaactual del medicamento. 2009; 33 (326): 878-882. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Shrikant M., Kalpana P. The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer's disease: An overview [Internet]. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology. 2008. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Scientific article
Tayyem R. Heath D., Al-Delaimy W., Rock C. Curcumin content of turmeric and curry powders [Internet]. Nutrition and Cancer 2006. [Consultado el 6 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Official website
Medicamentos [Internet]. FACE. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Expert Blog
Maria R. Cómo saber si un medicamento tiene gluten [Internet]. Real E Ilustre Colegio de Farmacéuticos de Sevilla. 2015 [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020]
Go to source
Official website
Turmeric [Internet]. Webmd.com. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Expert article
Examine.com. Black Pepper Supplement - Health Benefits, Dosage, Side Effects [Internet]. Examine.com. 2019.[Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
In vitro clinical trial
Masoumi A, Goldenson B, Ghirmai S, Avagyan H, Zaghi J, Abel K, et al. 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 Interacts with Curcuminoids to Stimulate Amyloid-β Clearance by Macrophages of Alzheimers Disease Patients. Journal of Alzheimers Disease [Internet]. 2009Jan;17(3):703–17. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Systematic review
Chainani-Wu N. Safety and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin: a component of turmeric (Curcuma longa) [Internet]. US National Library of Medicine. 2003. [Consultado el 7 de junio del 2020].
Go to source
Reviews