Spices are pretty incredible. Not only do they add flavor to all sorts of dishes, they come with a wide range of health benefits, and turmeric is ranked among the very best. This bright yellow spice that’s best known for its use in Indian cuisine like curry, has a long history of medicinal use in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, and in more recent years, its benefits have been well-documented in numerous studies.
While cooking with turmeric is a great way to enhance your health, much of the research conducted on it has found that the compound responsible for those benefits, curcumin, is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. For better absorption, it really needs to be consumed with black pepper. In fact, research has shown that piperine, a natural compound in black pepper that gives it its taste, enhances absorption by an astounding 2000%.
Black pepper helps to slow the liver from metabolizing curcumin too quickly and eliminating it through urine. This process means that the body is better able to utilize curcumin and its impressive medicinal properties. On its own, curcumin is quickly metabolized and sent on its way out of the body due to its poor bioavailability. The bioavailability of a food is the amount of a nutrient that’s available and readily absorbed by the body to use for various metabolic purposes from the food that we ingest. Some nutrients have a high bioavailability and can easily be digested, absorbed and metabolized, while others that have a poor or low bioavailability in the process of digestion, absorption, and metabolism, can vary. That can also be impacted by other foods, vitamins, and minerals that are consumed.
To facilitate an increase of bioavailability of curcumin, we can simply add black pepper. Black pepper in itself also provides a multitude health benefits. It’s an excellent source of manganese, which helps the body form connective tissues, bones and sex hormones.
Taking these two spices together provides a wide range of health benefits, including these:
1. Lowering Inflammation
Experts believe that chronic, low-level inflammation is the root cause of nearly every chronic illness, including arthritis, heart disease, irritable bowel, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and a long list of others. Taking turmeric with black pepper serves as an exceptionally powerful anti-inflammatory that has been reported to be even more effective than pharmaceutical drugs designed to lower inflammation.
2. Supporting Brain Health
Curcumin, that important active compound in turmeric, when taken with black pepper, can also help protect the brain against devastating conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This blend of spices helps in a number of different ways, including providing potent antioxidants that have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier to protect brain cells from free radical damage, as well as to improve memory by improving blood flow to the brain. Studies have shown it also positively affects Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) levels in the brain, which may help to slow or possibly even reverse age-related brain disorders or degenerative diseases.
3. Depression Relief
Taking turmeric and black pepper has also revealed some promising results for treating depression. Some research has found that it may even be as effective as antidepressant medications, as it provides neuroprotective qualities that are well-known for their mood-lifting abilities.
A 2014 study out of Bhavnagar, India’s Government Medical College, utilized the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale for measuring results while treating patients with major depressive disorder. One group took the common antidepressant Prozac, another took curcumin, and another took curcumin with Prozac. After six weeks, the individuals given curcumin showed improvements similar to the medication, but without the side effects. The very best results were found among those who took both curcumin and Prozac. Either way, the bottom line is that taking turmeric with black pepper may be just as effective as taking antidepressant drugs for relieving depression symptoms.
4. Improve Digestion
Getting a dose of turmeric and black pepper each day can also help resolve digestive issues like bloating and gas, as well as reduce inflammation in the digestive tract. Digestion is a rather complicated process. It involves salivating, requires the esophagus muscles to move food, and the gallbladder to release bile in order to break down that food. As there are so many functions and organs involved in this process, it can easily be disrupted, especially if your diet is poor and/or you’re not getting the necessary nutrients to support these functions. But simply adding turmeric and pepper to your diet can make a big difference. The anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals not only help nutrient absorption but will aid in acid production and muscle movement to help keep things working like they should.
The magnesium and potassium in this potent blend also help to fight dehydration and rebalance fluids when you’re suffering from diarrhea, while other vitamins and chemicals improve digestion as well as immunity. Turmeric/black pepper serves as a natural remedy, with the help of vitamins, minerals, and other compounds to lower inflammation, reduce abnormal muscle movements, and soothe digestive problems related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well. If you tend to get gas often, the compounds in these spices work together to help your body stop overproducing the acids that cause it.
5. Possible Cancer Preventative
There are countless studies that have shown the anti-cancer powers of turmeric/black pepper. While pharmaceutical companies don’t want you to know about it, experts have found that it may halt the growth and development of cancer.
The University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center conducted a study in 2011 that demonstrated it was able to effectively differentiate between normal cells and cancer cells, leading researchers to conclude that the active compound curcumin “exerts its biological influence through epigenetic modulation, a process that continues downstream staying one step ahead of adverse genetic influences.”
There have been a number of studies that have shown that turmeric can reduce the growth of cancerous cells and inhibit tumor growth too. Evidence has even been uncovered that it may help prevent cancer altogether, especially colon cancer, with research finding that taking curcumin for 30 days was able to reduce the number of lesions dramatically.
Consuming this spice combination may help prevent breast cancer too, thanks to the powerful polyphenols curcumin and piperine. Mammosphere formation, a marker of breast stem cells, and a variety of other cells were examined in a 2010 study and given a curcumin/piperine treatment. Both black pepper and turmeric compounds were found to inhibit mammosphere formation without causing toxicity, therefore demonstrating that they could be possible cancer preventive agents. In research from the University of Michigan, cancer cells were injected with a solution of piperine and curcumin that was at least 20 times stronger than what is normally consumed through food, and breast stem cell markers were studied. Researchers found that the hallmark of cancer developing, a self-renewal process of breast stem cells, was halted, which was considered a significant development that offers hope to women who are at high risk of developing breast cancer.
6. Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease
The No. 1 killer worldwide is heart disease which is why it’s been so extensively studied. Experts have found that many different factors contribute to its development and that there are multiple things that can help reverse its progress before it leads to premature death. The curcumin in turmeric helps to enhance the functioning of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels. A dysfunction in this tissue is a significant factor for heart disease as it makes it far more challenging for the endothelium to do its job regulating blood clotting, blood pressure, and other important bodily processes.
7. Easing Arthritis Pain
Those potent anti-inflammatory properties credited with turmeric and black pepper can also help to ease the pain of arthritis, offering relief from painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In addition, the combination of spices has the ability to fight off harmful free radicals that can lead to excess inflammation.
Research from Kerala, India published in Phytotherapy Research showed that patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis who were given the active compound in turmeric, curcumin, showed the highest percentage of improvement as compared to those who received traditional treatments. In fact, the curcumin not only came without side effects, it was even more effective at providing relief for problems like joint swelling. While nearly one-fifth of those taking NSAIDs were forced to withdraw due to side effects, none of the patients in the curcumin group did.
8. Improving Longevity
Taking turmeric and black pepper may even help lengthen your lifespan. Of course, as you know now that it has the ability to decrease the risk of many serious diseases like heart disease and cancer, it makes sense that it can increase longevity too. As inflammation plays a major role when it comes to aging, its anti-inflammatory powers help it go far beyond simply battling illness and disease and lengthening one’s lifespan. By consuming turmeric with black pepper on a regular basis, you may start to feel and look younger, on the inside out.
How To Take Black Pepper & Turmeric:
So how should you take turmeric and black pepper, and how much do you need? While there is no predefined value, the general advice is to take a quarter teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper with one teaspoon of turmeric powder.
That black pepper and turmeric combination is often blended with other ingredients to make it more palatable, such as coconut oil, olive oil, honey, and ginger. You could consume a tea made with turmeric and black pepper tea, or when brewing black tea, add pepper and turmeric to the cup before pouring in the hot water. You can also have fun getting creative, using it when cooking in a variety of dishes…
Here are a few ideas:
- Mix turmeric and black pepper into smoothies. By adding coconut oil, you’ll boost absorption even more.
- Add it to any soup recipe and you’ll get the benefits and a beautiful deep golden hue to it.
- Add it to a stew or to curry to bring out the warm flavors.
- Add it when sauteing vegetables.
- Top it onto hummus.
- Add it to your eggs by sauteing eggs in a pan with a little coconut oil, and then add a heaping teaspoon of turmeric and a quarter teaspoon of black pepper.
- Make Golden Milk Tea, the ancient way of consuming turmeric and black pepper, by adding two cups of coconut milk (full fat), a teaspoon of turmeric powder, a half-teaspoon of cinnamon, a quarter teaspoon fresh ground black pepper and a teaspoon of raw honey into a blender. Blend until smooth, and then pour the liquid into a saucepan on the stove. Heat over medium for about five minutes until hot, but not boiling.
- Take a black pepper and turmeric supplement.