Today we know that humans since the ancient times have been using herbs as a mean of medicine to cure different ailments. Egyptian history reveals that ancient Egyptians had knowledge of about some 850 plant medicines like garlic, castor beans and junipers to cure diseases of limbs, skin etc. Today, several pharmaceutical drugs contain essential chemical extracts discovered through the study of these curing herbs.
Turmeric and Black pepper are two such spices that are known for their medicinal uses. Turmeric is known to have been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Both these spices are very popular among the Asian cuisine. Today we know that they do not just add flavors to our food but also provide us with great health benefits.
Health benefits of Turmeric:
Turmeric is traditionally used as a disinfectant on wounds especially in some Asian countries. It is a very powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It is also known to have anti-septic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Turmeric is rich in a bright yellow colored chemical compound called curcumin. Curcumin not just imparts color to turmeric but is also found to be a beneficial anti-inflammatory compound. It is also believed that curcumin protects healthy cells from free radicals that can damage and degrade living cells.
What we need to know here is that our body cannot absorb every beneficial thing even if it is a part of our food. At times it needs a little assistance to bring out the best from a thing. Turmeric has a very low bioavailability in our body. By bioavailability, I mean that turmeric is readily metabolized by our liver and the intestinal walls. Thus, rendering a very large proportion of it unavailable for the body to absorb it whereas, only a fraction of it gets absorbed into the bloodstream. So, even if we consume turmeric, it will not provide many benefits to the body. Our body needs something that can help it extract the beneficial compounds out of the turmeric and get the full benefit out of it for our body.
Studies have shown that use of black pepper with turmeric enhances the activity of both and the combination produces a powerful combined effect.
Health benefits of Black pepper:
Black pepper is a spice that is very beneficial for our body. It is known to improve digestion, helps in losing weight, regulates nerve signals and is effective against fighting cancer. Like turmeric, it also has anti-microbial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Besides these, black pepper also contains manganese, essential for the formation of connective tissues, sex hormones, and bones. A chemical compound called piperine is a major constituent of black and white pepper. Piperine is what makes this spice beneficial.
Black pepper hinders rapid metabolism of turmeric:
Black pepper was examined to study its role in the bioavailability of turmeric in rats and humans. It was observed that piperine increases the serum concentration of curcumin, enhances the degree of absorption and bioavailability in both the specimens. This is thought to be because of piperine’s ability to inhibit the activity of some intestinal enzymes responsible for the rapid metabolism of curcumin. This, in turn, improves the absorption of curcumin. Curcumin administered with piperine was also found to stay longer in the body. Plus, no side effects observed for using turmeric with black pepper.
So, it is best to use turmeric with black pepper to get maximum benefit from it.
Benefits of consuming Turmeric-Black pepper combo:
Turmeric-black pepper combination is known to deliver amazing health benefits to their consumers.
Following are some of the benefits this combination is popular for:
- Pain reliever: Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to fight infections and relieve pain since ages. It has shown positive results for conditions like arthritis too. Piperine can bring about activation of TRPV1 cellular receptors that trigger an anti-pain reaction in the body. Turmeric and black pepper combination is even observed to relieve nerve related pain. Hence, this combination is a powerful reliever from chronic pain.
- It’s good for diabetic patients: Diabetes often result in damaged blood vessels. Researchers have found that piperine and curcumin are helpful in reducing oxidative stress that begins the blood vessel degradation. Therefore, proving good for the diabetic patients.
- Helpful for losing weight: Black pepper and turmeric are known to aid weight loss. Piperine in black pepper is a thermogenic compound that increases your metabolism and thus, increases the rate of calories burning. Curcumin on the other hand directly interacts with many different body cells like fat cells, pancreatic cells, muscle cells etc. It takes care of the body from symptoms of obesity like hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, inflammation and hyperlipidemia etc. Thus, helping the body tackle obesity.
- Reduces inflammation: Turmeric and black pepper both contain anti-inflammatory compounds. For this property, they have been used in the ayurvedic medicines for centuries. Influenced with this traditional use, turmeric extracts are now also used in the West to cure of arthritis. Turmeric is also affective against ulcers and endometriosis.
- Lowers cholesterol: Combination of turmeric and black pepper is very effective in lowering the cholesterol level, especially the bad cholesterol. Thus, lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strokes and heart attacks.
- Good for memory: The combination of turmeric and black pepper is proved to be good for our memory. This is due to the high concentration of anti-oxidants present in them. The antioxidants prevents the degeneration of neurons and so it is also very beneficial for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as it prevents memory loss.
- Helps fight depression: The combo is also known for its anti-depressant properties. What they actually do is that they elevate the amount of serotonin and dopamine in our brain. Serotonin and dopamine are two hormones responsible for our moods. The combo also lowers the level of monoamine oxidase in our body that is believed to be responsible for depression.
- Battles cancer: Turmeric-black pepper combination is known to prevent cancer. Curcumin in turmeric is an effective killer of cancerous cells. It is best against breast cancer cells, colon and gastric cancer cells, and leukemia cells. The mixture is completely safe to use and is non-toxic.
Dosage guidelines:Daily Dose of Pepper and Turmeric
There is only limited data available on how much black pepper is essential for the bioavailability of turmeric. Sources suggest that piperine comprises 5% by weight of black pepper and even this 5% of black pepper has been found to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. As turmeric and black pepper are spices, they should not be taken in large quantities. A general guideline to their daily dosage suggests that an amount of 1-3gs of powdered turmeric is considered healthy for us. Turmeric daily dosage depends on the quantity of curcumin being taken which differs in different sources of turmeric. The dosage also varies with the kind of condition for which it is taken. For example for patients of rheumatoid arthritis, 500mg of turmeric is suggested twice a day.
Best Way to take turmeric:
There are several ways of taking turmeric. One can take active ingredients of turmeric through turmeric root, dried and powdered turmeric root, through the fluid extracts and by consuming turmeric supplements. Tincture also contains turmeric active ingredients. Fluid extract and tincture are not commonly used as a source of turmeric though.
Different supplements of turmeric and black pepper are also available for those who do not prefer to take them in their natural forms. These supplements contain turmeric curcumin and black pepper piperine extracts.
How can you make this combo more appealing to eat?
You can easily add these two ingredients in your daily diet. It is best to use whole peppercorns and then grind it yourself rather than buying powdered black pepper. Also, prefer to buy turmeric in its raw (root) form (that resembles ginger), dry it and then grind it to a powdered form. This extra steps will surely add more flavor to your food. To make your experience with turmeric and black pepper combo a good one, use different recipes to increase your liking for it. You can simply sprinkle ground black pepper and turmeric on your salads, add them to your meals or try some Asian cuisine in which turmeric and black pepper are common ingredients.
You can also make turmeric-black pepper paste (also called golden paste) at home and then use it. Begin making the paste by mixing a quarter cup of turmeric and a half teaspoon of black pepper in half a cup of water. Cook them on medium flame until it starts to concentrate. While on the flame, keep stirring the mixture constantly. When it becomes thick like a paste, cool it and pour it in a jar. Store it in the fridge to prolong its shelf life. Consume at least 2 tablespoons of this paste daily.
If you do not like to take it these ways, don’t worry, opt for supplements instead. If you choose to take supplements, take in about 400-600mg capsules daily. Adding turmeric-black pepper to coconut milk or even in your morning tea are yet some other ways to take this combination.
No doubt, the benefits of using turmeric and black pepper are enormous for us and they should constitute a must part of our diet. However, one should be careful if they have any medical condition or are allergic to any of the two ingredients.
If you are on some medication like digoxin or phenytoin, avoid taking black pepper more than a tablespoon per day. Reason being, the piperine in black pepper slows down the metabolism of certain drugs which is not good for the body. The metabolites of these drugs should be detoxified by the liver rapidly. As piperine slows down their metabolism, drug level in the body elevates. Therefore, it is advised to people on medications to be more cautious with the use of black pepper.
It is better to use natural turmeric than using supplements. Although the supplements are also very effective and beneficial, it is recommended not to use supplements in excess and on daily basis. Long term use and excessive use of supplements have been found to cause dizziness, poor digestion, and nausea. Pregnant women should avoid turmeric capsule because it can stimulate menstrual flow. Lactating women are advised not to take any herbal supplements. Patients with gallbladder issues, diabetic patients and those who are to undergo surgery should also avoid turmeric supplements. It is better to consume turmeric capsules only when prescribed by the doctor.
Those who have kidney stones problem (oxalate stones) should also avoid black pepper over consumption as it contains oxalates.
If you are under some medication and are not sure about the safety of using turmeric and black pepper then it is better for you to consult your doctor rather than deciding something on your own. It is always best to take an expert’s opinion.