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Taking curcumin? Don’t forget the piperine!

Home/Research, Supplements/Drugs, Tips/Taking curcumin? Don’t forget the piperine!

Taking curcumin? Don’t forget the piperine!

This news isn’t new, it’s just news to me: taking 20 mg of piperine enhances curcumin’s bio availability by up to 2000%.  2000%!

curcuminCurcumin is a commonly used anti-myeloma supplement.  Unfortunately, only small amounts of the large orange pills or capsules we take make it into our bloodstream where it can do some good.

The standard dose of curcumin for myeloma patients is between 2 gm and 8 gm daily.  I had read that one way to enhance the impact of using curcumin was to take it all at once; not spread out throughout the day.  And some brands tout improved absorption, but who knows if their claims are reliable?

While moderating Friday’s Cure Talk broadcast on cancer nutrition, my guest, Dr. Donald Abraham, revealed that he personally takes an inexpensive extract of black pepper, piperine, along with curcumin to help minimize his arthritic pain.  Dr. Abrams explained that piperine enables the liver to allow more curcumin into the bloodstream.

Intrigued, I did a little research.  Check out this 15 year old study I found on  I’ve highlighted the key points in BOLD:

Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers.


The medicinal properties of curcumin obtained from Curcuma longa L. cannot be utilised because of poor bioavailability due to its rapid metabolism in the liver and intestinal wall. In this study, the effect of combining piperine, a known inhibitor of hepatic and intestinal glucuronidation, was evaluated on the bioavailability of curcumin in rats and healthy human volunteers. When curcumin was given alone, in the dose 2 g/kg to rats, moderate serum concentrations were achieved over a period of 4 h. Concomitant administration of piperine 20 mg/kg increased the serum concentration of curcumin for a short period of 1-2 h post drug. Time to maximum was significantly increased (P < 0.02) while elimination half life and clearance significantly decreased (P < 0.02), and the bioavailability was increased by 154%. On the other hand in humans after a dose of 2 g curcumin alone, serum levels were either undetectable or very low. Concomitant administration of piperine 20 mg produced much higher concentrations from 0.25 to 1 h post drug (P < 0.01 at 0.25 and 0.5 h; P < 0.001 at 1 h), the increase in bioavailability was 2000%. The study shows that in the dosages used, piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin in both rats and humans with no adverse effects.

It broke my heart to think I had been taking so much expensive curcumin over the years with so little effect.  GNC doesn’t sell piperine.  My local health food store didn’t have it, either; but they’ve ordered it for me.  You can order it online from a number of sources.  Either way, I’m not taking any more curcumin until I have piperine to take with it!

Here’s the link to my interview with Dr. Abrams:

Canadian myeloma survivor and activist, Nancy Shamanna, breast cancer survivor/advocate, Beverly McKee and nutritionist Dr. Smriti Parikh, joined me in questioning Dr. Abrams.  I learned a lot!

I will share more of Dr. Abrams tips in a few days.  In the meantime, I plan to change how and when I take curcumin.  Instead of 3 gm at lunchtime, I will take 2 gm in the morning and 2 gm at night, always with 20 mg piperine.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat