Black pepper extract (BioPerine®) is a standardized extract, prepared from the dried fruits of Piper nigrum (black pepper) and contains a minimum of 95% Piperine. It is clinically studied for its ability to enhance the bioavailability of the nutrients. It has been well recognized as a bioavailability enhancer for nearly two decades, and it is the only source of black pepper to have undergone clinical studies in the United States and several other countries, which substantiate its safety and efficacy for nutritional use.
Traditional knowledge with modern benefits
Black pepper is one of the spices which has been used for ages to flavor various cuisines throughout the globe. It is especially known for its pungent flavor and thermogenic activity. The black pepper has been used traditional medicines as an adjuvant to support knee pain, abdominal discomfort, to enhance mood, tiredness, manage a healthy weight, etc (Heerasing et al., 2019). Subsequently, piperine is no more just a spice, but is being considered as a food supplement, thermonutrient and as a natural bioavailability enhancer. Out of many pharmacological benefits of the black pepper extract, its bioavailability enhancing ability is widely accepted.
Bioavailability and its role in nutrient absorption
Bioavailability is the key step in nutrient absorption, which ultimately decides the efficacy. Various bioactives have been found to face the bioavailability as a major drawback for their pharmacological implications. To overcome the issue of bioavailability, several delivery methods have been employed to improve the absorption viz., formulations with solid dispersions, nanoparticles, and self-emulsifying drying systems. However, each of the methods raises several questions like origin, stability, safety, and cost.
In the view of safety concerns, many natural nutrients with the ability to influence the bioavailability are in the pursuit. In the scenario, scientists identified the unique property of black pepper to improve the absorption and metabolism of nutrients when they are administered together. Black pepper extract has been shown to enhance the bioavailability of fat-soluble vitamins (β-carotene), water-soluble vitamins (vitamin-C), selenoamino acid, coenzyme Q10, resveratrol and Curcumin (Fernández-Lázaro et al., 2020) . The property has been linked to its influence on xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes (biotransformation) and thermogenic effect. It was found that piperine was the key component behind the bioavailability enhancing the character of black pepper extract (Vladimir et al., 1999).
How black pepper increases the bioavailability
Various key mechanisms have been proposed for the bioavailability enhancing ability of the black pepper extract. Important mechanisms include inhibition of P-glycoprotein, inhibition of enzymes involved in glucuronidation, and thermogenesis.
P-glycoprotein is a transmembrane permeability glycoprotein involved in the transport of nutrients and xenobiotics across the cell membrane of intestinal epithelial cells, renal proximal tubular cells, capillary endothelial cells, and hepatocytes. It is a member of ATP binding cassette proteins and works by energy derived from ATP hydrolysis. It has been shown that piperine inhibits its ability to translocate various components.
Glucuronidation is a process in xenobiotic metabolism, where xenobiotics (including drugs) are added with a molecule of UDP-glucose to render them inactive, more soluble, and easily excretable form. Hence, many components are metabolized by this process and become less bioavailable. Piperine has been found to affect the glucuronidation by lowering the endogenous UDP-glucuronic acid (the main component used in glucuronidation) and by inhibiting the activities of the transferring enzymes.
Thermogenesis is a metabolic process that generates energy at the cellular level in the human body and has been identified as a key factor in utilizing the dietary food and nutrients that the human body consumes. Piperine in the black pepper extract enhances the thermogenesis and in turn, affects the absorption of components in the intestine (Mhaske et al., 2018).
BioPerine® has recieved Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) status (April 2010) after acomprehensive review of the safety and toxicology data by an independent panel of scientists with international repute.
Black pepper extract (BioPerine®) is manufactured in USP-GMP, NSF-GMP, AYUSH GMP, and FSSC 22000:2005 certified facilities. It is Halal and Kosher certified, and Non-GMO Project Verified.