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Taking curcumin? Don’t forget the piperine!

Posted on January 21 2014 by Pat Killingsworth | 1,757 views

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 PubMed.com.  I’ve highlighted the key points in BOLD:

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

Abstract

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:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/curepanel/2014/01/17/nutrition-and-supplements-during-cancer-treatment-and-beyond

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

14 Comments For This Post

  1. Holt Says:

    I think it was Danny who originally recommended Dr. Best’s curcumin which contains bioperine, an extract of piperine. It’s readily available online at all the usual suspect sites.

  2. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    That brand wasn’t available at the time I was getting into it. Back ordered. Hopefully others have been using that. I’ve just been taking curcumin straight-up…

  3. Ed Says:

    Margaret’s Corner smoldering blog, whose website is linked on this page, has strongly recco’ed the taking of black pepper or derivatives w/ curcumin for a very long time. Also taking w/ some fat further enhances its effects according to Margaret.

  4. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Yes. The abstract I passed along is from 1998. I opened my post by saying, “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%.” I tend to be skeptical of supplement products that claim “better absorbed” or optimum this or that. Figured I’d go straight to the hard stuff! For some reason, this never resonated with me. And if I don’t get it, fair to say a lot of others won’t, either; they’re not working with myeloma 24/7. And I still miss a lot. Margaret’s blog is an excellent resource for this type of thing. Thanks, Ed!

  5. Nancy Shamanna Says:

    Well, I guess we are into the ‘spice islands’ in a way! Turmeric plus pepper! I was glad I asked that question of Dr. Abrams. Although we eat turmeric in our Indian food here, I wasn’t able to even find capsules of cur cumin in the local stores here. Admittedly, I did not check out the health food stores. But anyways, I have now ordered combo pill online…had to pay out of country shipping .. but thought it is worth a try. I will see if it agrees with my digestive system, and then at my next round of blood tests, check to see for any improvements, or stability for the M protein.

    Of course, I have also upped my exercise routines (Januarys’ new year’s resolutions) and am trying to eat as healthily as possible. I am fairly ‘plant based’ in my diet already. Am taking gel capsules of Vitamin D since cannot take calcium tabs at this time, due to my blood calcium getting a little over the limit. This was also discussed by Dr. Abrams. I feel that he is very knowledgeable, even though I might not agree or follow through with all of his ideas.

    Interesting to me that Dr. Abrams said he takes cur cumin for osteoarthritis. A friend of mine who I discussed this with also was taking it for fibromyalgia. It is known to be an ‘anti-inflammatory’ type of medicine.

    Thanks to you and Priya for including me on the Cure Talk show. I tried to just ask a couple of questions since there were other panelists too and of course the listeners want the chance to ask questions too. Since it was a wide ranging discussion covering a lot of different types of cancers, it was nice that the myeloma aspects got quite a bit of coverage!

  6. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Thanks in no small part to you, Nancy! Great job! Appreciate your thoughtful comments here and on-air…

  7. Gary Says:

    Hi Pat: Really concerns me that you are willing to treat yourself as an average patient. My experience suggest that bio availability is quite significant between patients and we need to individualize dosing (this is a recording…….).

  8. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    What choice do I have and what difference does it make? Not dissing you or what you do; you know how important I think it is. But power of curcumin is still not clearly understood. It may make a big difference, may not. Not enough data. So I would be optimizing what exactly? Now, is that better? You bet! But with no side effects and an unclear end game, I don’t have a problem hacking around. Why, do you have a way my readers and I can optimize way curcumin is absorbed? Thought it was only hypothetical…

  9. Steve Says:

    For what it’s worth, I first started using curcumin about three years ago and over the course of 6 months or so I did not see any desired impact on my numbers, so I stopped taking it. Of course, at the time I was taking it, my M spike was considerably higher than it is now, at around 1.5 – 1.8. Now that I’m only around .3 with my M spike, more like what I was prior to bone damage, or at the MGUS level, I’m thinking of trying curcumin again. Maybe it’s only effective when the MM hasn’t as much “momentum”, say at the MGUS or smouldering stages? Or maybe it’s like any other chemical we might use, effecting each of us differently according to dosage and our individual metabolism? At any rate, I previously used Doctor’s Best with Phytosome featuring MERIVA, but now I’m going to use Life Extension’s, Super Bio-Curcumin, with BCM-95. Products that include BCM-95 may have even greater bio-availablity (about 7 times that of normal curcumin), if you can believe the statement on the label. Or as the bottle also says, one 400 mg. capsule is equal to 2,772 mg of typical 95% curcumin extract.

    Bottom line: No one can prove, at least to date, one way or another curcumin’s efficacy with MM, and, the FDA does not evaluate these supplements. There are both pro and con articles in regard to using curcumin, I’ve read dozen’s of them. In the end, like with MM treatment in general, we move forward with our “best guess” on what might work for us. We are each, unto ourselves, a clincal trial of sorts! ;)

    Best

    P.S. — I subscribe to Consumer Labs and I can share here that they have tested many of these curcumin products for accuracy of content claims, as well as contaminant levels; both of these manufacturers are approved by CL on the aforementioned curcumin supplements.

  10. Danny Parker Says:

    As Holt mentions, I’ve always recommended Dr. Best’s Curcumin with Bioperine which has the same action as piperine. One of the reasons I take that formulation.

    http://www.amazon.com/Best-Curcumin-Complex-Bioperine-120-Count/dp/B001J9K5PG/ref=pd_sim_hpc_1

    I still take 4 gr per day. With each dose I also take my fish oils, to provide fat and help improve absorption, as Ed mentions.

    In any case, I very much appreciate the details above. As Margaret would readily agree, not all curcumin formulations are equal.

    Danny

  11. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Good to know, gentlemen!

  12. Brianne Says:

    I buy Dr. Best’s on Amazon and use their auto-delivery option…a bottle arrives on my doorstep at the times I specify. Great service, and if you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free. No excuse to forget to take it, right?!

  13. Pat Killingsworth Says:

    Glad that works for you. Two times I tried to order this product from Amazon and both times it wasn’t available. Just bad timing I guess…

  14. Laura Says:

    I order Dr. Best’s Curcumin with Bioperine 1000mg at Vitacost.com. Prices are good and shipping is usually free. Also, delivery is quick.

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