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Turmeric and Black Pepper: The Best Way to Take Turmeric? – Episode 89

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In this week's episode...

You’ve likely heard about the many health benefits of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) and its compound curcumin. But did you know that it can be difficult to “unlock” the nutrients in turmeric so your body can actually take full advantage of them? Tune in to today’s episode to unlock the magic of turmeric!

Empowering You Organically – Season 11 – Episode 89

Title: Turmeric and Black Pepper: The Best Way to Take Turmeric?

Hosts: Jonathan Hunsaker, TeriAnn Trevenen

Description:  You’ve likely heard about the many health benefits of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) and its compound curcumin. But did you know that it can be difficult to “unlock” the nutrients in turmeric so your body can actually take full advantage of them? Tune in to today’s episode to unlock the magic of turmeric!

 

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Turmeric and Black Pepper: The Best Way to Take Turmeric?

You’ve likely heard about the many health benefits of turmeric (Curcuma longa L.) and its compound curcumin. But did you know that it can be difficult to “unlock” the nutrients in turmeric so your body can actually take full advantage of them?

One popular way to make the compounds in turmeric more bioavailable (absorbable and usable to the body) is to pair it with another popular cooking spice: black pepper [1]. But what if there was a better way than combining turmeric and black pepper? A way to boost turmeric’s bioavailability, allowing it to more safely and effectively support the natural healing process?

The Healing Power of Turmeric

Turmeric is a staple remedy from the traditional medicine systems of the Far East that has gained widespread popularity throughout the West in recent years as a “super” spice.

Turmeric’s many health-supportive properties are attributed to curcumin, a key component of turmeric that’s associated with longevity. Curcumin is documented in the scientific literature as offering powerful support for the cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, immune, and cellular systems. It’s also the part of turmeric that gives this root spice its rich, golden yellow color.

But the truth of the matter is that humans have a difficult time getting all the health benefits from turmeric when consuming the spice all by itself. Research shows that only a very small portion of it is assimilated into the body when eaten in isolation.

This is why many natural health experts suggest consuming turmeric along with black pepper (Piper nigrum). Black pepper contains a unique “bio-enhancer” compound known as piperine that significantly boosts turmeric’s bioavailability – by as much as 2,000 percent, in fact.

This is the reason why many turmeric and curcumin supplement products on the market today contain either black pepper or piperine.

The Problem: Black Pepper Isn’t Good for Everyone

This pairing approach of turmeric and black pepper comes with limitations, however, as too much black pepper can actually be detrimental to health – especially in people with gastrointestinal issues.Research published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that consuming black pepper in excess can damage the mucosal lining of the gut, potentially causing bleeding or other injuries.

Consuming high amounts of black pepper, this same study found, is akin to taking the painkiller drug aspirin [2]. In other words, aspirin represents a similar threat to the gut lining in terms of its tendency to cause serious erosions and ulcers in the intestinal tract [3].

This isn’t to say that black pepper is inherently dangerous, and there’s no need to toss out the pepper shaker just yet. After all, the amounts of black pepper required to induce such harm are far greater than what the average person consumes in their food on a daily basis.

There’s also evidence to show that taking curcumin along with just piperine, black pepper’s primary alkaloid, is typically safe and causes “no adverse effects [4].”

Even so, there’s always the possibility that someone might react negatively to this combination – especially when taking very high doses of turmeric or curcumin for therapeutic purposes.

For this reason, science set out to determine whether or not it was possible to retain turmeric’s full bioavailability without the need for black pepper, piperine, or any other additive. And the good news is, it is possible.

Fermentation Increases the Power of Turmeric BETTER Than Black Pepper

As it turns out, by fermenting turmeric its active constituents can be drawn out and made more potent in a way similar to, and potentially even greater than, black pepper.

Here’s another reason why fermented turmeric may be superior to turmeric and black pepper. Besides possibly upsetting a person’s digestive system, black pepper is known to interfere with a process known as glucuronidation that’s necessary for eliminating toxins from the body [5].

Put simply, too much black pepper can cause a buildup of xenoestrogens (harmful chemicals found in plastic and other everyday products) and other toxins that would otherwise be quickly eliminated from the body [6].

With simple fermentation, however, there’s little-to-no risk of these types of complications. That’s because there’s nothing like black pepper getting in the way to block the body’s important detoxification pathways.

It’s rather like eating fresh turmeric, which still contains all of the volatile (essential) oils that help to deliver the herb’s active compounds throughout the body. Fermentation may even go a step beyond this by further optimizing turmeric’s absorption potential.

 

Research conducted on rat models found that fermented turmeric is, indeed, the best form of turmeric because it contains the most antioxidant power. Compared to ground turmeric in powder and probiotic forms, fermented turmeric led to substantially higher plasma antioxidant concentrations in test subjects [7].

In terms of how it affects the liver, fermented turmeric was shown in a paper out of South Korea to be powerfully hepatoprotective, meaning it shields the liver from damage.

Not only that, but fermented turmeric was also shown to help improve the liver’s functional detoxification potential [8] – as opposed to black pepper-potentiated turmeric that can inhibit natural detoxification.

Fermented turmeric also contains more curcumin (the beneficial compound) than unfermented turmeric, by volume. In addition to improving both its antioxidant and antimicrobial capacity, fermenting turmeric draws out an impressive 11% more curcumin compared to what’s found in raw turmeric.

Fermentation also makes turmeric 3.1 times more effective at scavenging oxidizing free radicals from the body [9].

Another area where fermented turmeric has a leg up on both unfermented turmeric and turmeric combined with black pepper is in the area of inflammation.

Research published by The Korean Society for Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology found that fermented turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory, possessing the ability to inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokines much more effectively than any other known form of turmeric. Fermented turmeric was further shown in this same study to protect against acute anaphylactic, or allergic, reactions [10].

From an antimicrobial perspective, fermented turmeric shows incredible potential against a wide variety of pathogenic bacteria, including drug-resistant “superbugs.”

Research out of the Middle East found that fermented turmeric provides broad-spectrum protection against harmful bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli), Streptococcus agalactiae, Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), Entreococcus faecalis, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Klebsiella pneumonia, and Pseudomonas aeruginosae [11].

Research out of China found that fermented curcumin can be a powerful weapon against high cholesterol, also known as hyperlipidemia. While unfermented curcumin showed minimal-to-no benefits during the evaluation, its fermented counterpart significantly reduced serum lipid levels in test models [12].

Fermented Turmeric Increased Fat Loss in Animal Test Subjects

Fermented turmeric also shows promise in fighting another undesirable form of fat: the obesity kind.

Research out of South Korea found that consumption of fermented turmeric can alter the expression of certain genes involved with lipid accumulation, effectively preventing them from communicating to the body that it’s time to pack on extra pounds [13].

Related research published a year later, also out of South Korea, reiterated these findings while building upon them. Obese rats fed a high-fat diet not only didn’t gain more weight when also consuming fermented turmeric, but they further lost weight as a result of consuming the herb as part of their daily eating routines [14].

Preventing Impairment of Learning and Memory

Research has shown there are brain benefits associated with fermented turmeric as well. Among the findings fleshed out in a paper published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine was evidence suggesting that fermented turmeric has the potential to mitigate memory impairment while supporting optimized learning and memory ability in mice [15].

While more research needs to be done, the evidence so far seems clear… fermentation is the key to “unlocking” the incredible healing potential of turmeric, while avoiding the potential side effects of combining turmeric and black pepper.

 

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Jonathan Hunsaker:

Welcome everyone to another episode of Empowering You Organically. I’m your host, Jonathan Hunsaker. joined by my cohost TeriAnn Trevenen.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Hey, everyone.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Today we’re going to do a podcast about turmeric, and we’re going to talk about black pepper or piperine that is in a lot of supplements. We’re going to talk about how to get the most out of turmeric. I know that we’ve done other podcasts in the past about turmeric, but there’s a lot of misconceptions out there. There’s a lot of let’s call it “hype marketing” out in the supplement space. And a lot of people that are making promises about their turmeric supplement and you’re going to get all of these kinds of results. The reality is, some of it’s true, some of it isn’t. And so we just want to talk more about what you should be looking for when you’re looking for a turmeric supplement, and how to make it as bioavailable as possible. The first thing I want to talk about is let’s talk about black pepper, or piperine, which is in black pepper.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Well, let’s go backwards a little bit first and let’s talk about turmeric. You’ve probably heard about the many health benefits of turmeric and its compound curcumin. It’s a hot topic in the health industry because of its powerful benefits. It can also be difficult to unlock the nutrients in turmeric so that your body cannot actually take full advantage of them. This is actually something that you come up against with many of the herbs and spices and things that your body can utilize to benefit your health. One popular way to make the compounds in turmeric more bioavailable is to pair it with another popular cooking spice, black pepper. This is the conversation that happens all the time. You need black pepper to go with turmeric to make it bioavailable. And so we want to talk about this a little bit more today and tackle this topic as Jonathan mentioned.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Really quickly, let’s talk a little bit more about turmeric before we dive fully into that conversation. Turmeric is a staple remedy from the traditional medicine systems of the far East, that is gaining widespread popularity throughout the West, especially in the last few years as the super spice. Turmerics many health supportive properties are attributed to curcumin as I mentioned, a key component of turmeric that’s associated with longevity. Curcumin is documented in the scientific literature as offering powerful support for cardiovascular, neurological, metabolic, immune, and cellular system health. It’s also the part of turmeric that gives this root spice its rich gold, yellow color. But the truth of the matter is that humans have a difficult time getting all of those health benefits as we mentioned, and unlocking all of that power. In comes making turmeric more bioavailable for your body.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Well, you see, it’s a term we use often is bioavailability. To really understand what that is, that just means your body’s ability to absorb that nutrient. If it can’t absorb it, then it can’t use it, and it’s just going to pass right through you and end up in the toilet. That’s a challenge with curcumin. Which is, the main beneficial ingredient inside of turmeric is, we can only get about 3% of it out of turmeric. There’s all kinds of marketing and ideas of like, “Hey, put black pepper with it and it’s 2000% more bioavailable,” and things like that. That is true. You can add black pepper to it.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

The challenge is, is black pepper isn’t good for everyone. There can be some side effects, especially when it comes to prescription medication. So black pepper, or piperine, and I know there’s some patented versions of it, variations of piperine out there that make a lot of these claims that it makes it a lot more bioavailable. It does that by changing the enzymes that are in your gut, which allows it to break down the turmeric and absorb the curcumin. The challenge with that is, is if you take any kind of prescription medication, it can also change the effects of that. It might make it more potent or less potent, more bioavailable or less bioavailable. That also enhances the side effects. So if you’re on a prescription medication and then you take a turmeric supplement with piperine in it, chances are that there’s going to be some sort of effect on that prescription medication. There hasn’t been studies for all of the medications out there. They’re coming out with new ones every single day it seems like.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

So, it’s a lot riskier, in my opinion, to take a turmeric supplement with piperine, black pepper, Bio Piperine, things like that that we just don’t know the side effects with your prescription med. Then also, it can also cause issues inside of your gut for certain people. What’s really interesting is you can get all of the benefit, you can get the bioavailability of turmeric, without all the risks of adding black pepper to it. You just have to know what to look for. You have to know what to find. The solution there is getting a fermented turmeric.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Fermentation, we’ve talked about this before, it starts to break down process of that ingredient, botanical, whatever it is that herb, and it’s already releasing enzymes that start breaking it down. So when it hits your body, your body doesn’t have to release all of the enzyme. Your body may not even have the enzymes in its enzyme bank to break down some of those plants and herbs. When you ferment it, it’s already starting to break it down, which proves it to be that much more bioavailable. There’s studies out there now that are showing fermented turmeric is as effective as adding black pepper or piperine, without those dangerous side effects that you can get with prescription meds, or making your gut bleed, or all these other things that come along with black pepper.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

I think one of the interesting things you just touched on is enzymes in our body. Talk about that for a second. Because we just did some podcasts around enzymes, how critical they are for your body and our lack of enzymes in our diets, and things like that. You talked about how we may not even have the appropriate enzymes. Talk on that just for a second.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

We kind of have an enzyme bank. It’s like a bank account. You have a certain amount of enzymes in your body and we withdraw from this bank to break down foods. Right now, all food in its raw form contains the enzymes that it needs to break itself down. That’s why when you leave an apple out or spinach out or things begin to rot, it’s its own enzymes breaking it down. The problem is when we start cooking food and we start heating it above 112 degrees Fahrenheit, now we start destroying the enzymes in that food that helps it break down. So then we had to rely on the enzymes that are in our body to be able to break down that food. This is why a lot of us could enjoy milk when we were kids, but as we get older become lactose intolerant. Because we’ve used all of the lactaid enzyme to break down that lactose when we were kids and we’re kind of out of that in our bank account now. So now we can not consume that same milk.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Well, it’s the same thing. We don’t always have all of the enzymes at hand to break down everything that we ingest. That’s where fermentation really … I mean, fermentation does a few things. It already releases enzymes to start breaking down that ingredient. But just that fermentation process can release a whole plethora of more nutrients that are kind of unlocked. It’s kind of like when you sprout a seed. It unlocks all sorts of new nutrients once it’s sprouted, then when you’re taking it in the raw form. So, it’s a quick education on enzymes.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

But the big thing that I really want to talk about, because there’s all this hype about taking black pepper with your turmeric. Listen, for some people, you may not have any issues and you’re going to see the great 2000% results that they’re marketing to you. But they’re not telling you about the side effects that come with the prescription meds. We see testimonial after testimonial, or people talking about it over and over again, about how it hurt their gut, how it didn’t work for them, is there a better way? And it’s why we’ve never put it in our turmeric supplements, our Turmeric 3D and our Magi-Complexx. We use fermented turmeric. In fact, we actually ferment our turmeric three different … we use three different types of fermented turmeric. So we don’t-

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Before you go there, I just want to go back one second on the gut. Jonathan touched on this for just a second. But consuming black pepper in excess can damage the mucosal lining of the gut, potentially causing bleeding or other injuries. So you have to be really careful when you’re combining this with ingredients for the purpose of bioavailability. Because again, as we’ve talked about many times, our gut health is so critical to our health and damaging that gut lining can lead to leaky gut and other health issues that you just don’t want to see when it comes to the powerhouse that is your gut when it comes to your health.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Absolutely. It’s hard to believe what’s out there in the space, in the supplement space, because people make all kinds of promises. They make all kinds of guarantees. They throw all sorts of, “This study proves this and proves that.” We’ve talked about this in other podcasts. We don’t know the quality of ingredient that’s actually in their supplement, because they’re referencing a study that may have used a much more potent version, or all of these other things. It’s why we’re talking about black pepper. Because everybody talks about the benefits of it, but they’re not talking about these side effects. The reality is, is you can get all of the benefits of the turmeric. The black pepper, or the piperine in there, is not giving you any more benefit other than making the turmeric more bioavailable. Well, if that’s the end result, we can make the turmeric more bioavailable without the side effects, without the issues of it affecting our prescription medications, and that’s simply by fermenting the turmeric.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Absolutely. Yep.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

I was talking about turmeric before, just because we get that question asked a lot, because it’s T 3D and we say it’s triple fermented. We actually ferment it three different ways, not take one turmeric and ferment it three different times. We have three different types of fermented turmeric in there for that reason, so that it’s more bioavailable. This is another thing, and I’m going to go a little bit on a tangent here, but I think the education is important. People ask, “Well, how much turmeric is in your supplement? How much curcumin is in your supplement?” It doesn’t matter the amount that’s in the supplement, what matters is how much your body can absorb. How bioavailable it is.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

You can go look at a multivitamin, a One a Day, that they sell at the local grocery store, that’s made with a bunch of synthetics. For vitamin C, they’re using ascorbic acid and it says, “15,000% vitamin C.” And then you could go look at a whole food multivitamin, like our Multi-Vita-Maxx, and our vitamin C might be 100%. It’s like, “But there’s 15 times more vitamin C in this synthetic.” But your body doesn’t know what to do with it. Your body just passes it right through, and so it’s not bioavailable. So, this is where it’s important to really understand what’s on the label and what actually gets used in your body. We get asked, too, “How much turmeric is in it?” Doesn’t matter. It’s how much turmeric can you absorb from it that matters.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Yeah. I want to touch on something really quickly. You’ll see this in show notes with studies. Fermented turmeric contains more antioxidant power. It says that fermented turmeric led to substantially higher plasma antioxidant concentrations in test subjects in a study that was done. And then also, let me see if I can find this here. Fermented turmeric was also shown to help improve the liver’s functional detoxification potential, as opposed to black pepper potentiated turmeric that can inhibit natural detoxification. These were studies that were done in fermented turmeric. It also said, and let me see if I can find this, fermenting turmeric draws out an impressive 11% more curcumin compared to what’s found in raw turmeric.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Yeah. The detoxification is important, too. That black pepper can have that side effect to where it doesn’t allow you to do detox as well as you could if you have too much of it in your system. So it’s just another … And then, fermented turmeric actually helps you detox even more, so the pendulum swings even further that way to use a fermented turmeric. If you’re out there looking on Amazon and things like that, definitely look for fermented turmeric. I highly encourage you to get a organic turmeric as well. We’ve talked about the importance of organic. But if you’re looking to really get the benefits of it, have it be a fermented organic turmeric.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Yep. I just want to touch really quickly, we’re really here to educate on fermentation more than anything, but I will say this, fermented turmeric has some amazing benefits above and beyond what we’ve already talked about today. It can increase your fat loss, can prevent impairment of learning and memory, and so many other benefits. You’ll find some of these in show notes that we’ll post on our website, empoweringyouorganically.com, where you can read about the studies that have been done behind fermented turmeric and these amazing capabilities that it has for your body.

Jonathan Hunsaker:

Absolutely. All right. Well, this was just a quick and dirty podcast here to educate people about turmeric, about black pepper, about fermented turmeric. Why that, in my opinion, it’s better than any kind of turmeric supplement that has black pepper or piperine, or any patented version of black pepper in it. If you want to see our show notes and all of our resources and references go to empoweringyouorganically.com. As always, like us on iTunes. Subscribe. If you want to learn more about our Turmeric 3D, where we use a triple fermented turmeric, we also have vitamin D in there. We use an organic KSM-66 Ashwagandha, which is patented. We use fermented organic ginger. And we also use organic periactin, which we did a podcast about as well. If you’re looking for inflammation support or pain relief, in my opinion, there’s nothing better out there than our Turmeric 3D. That’s at organixx.com. As always, thank you for tuning in. I hope you learned a lot. We will see you on the next show.

TeriAnn Trevenen:

Thanks, everyone.

 

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[1] Recent developments in delivery, bioavailability, absorption and metabolism of curcumin: the golden pigment from golden spice.

[2] Effect of red pepper and black pepper on the stomach.

[3] The Effects of Aspirin and Acetaminophen on the Stomach in Healthy Volunteers

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

[5] Turmeric, Hold the Black Pepper Please!

[6] Glucuronidation

[7] Study on enhanced absorption of phenolic compounds of Lactobacillus‐fermented turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.) beverages in rats

[8] The effectiveness of fermented turmeric powder in subjects with elevated alanine transaminase levels: a randomised controlled study

[9] Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Effects of Fermented Tumeric (Curcuma longa L.)

[10] Antiinflammatory and Antiallergic Activity of Fermented Turmeric by Lactobacillus

[11] Influence of solid state fermentation by Trichoderma spp. on solubility, phenolic content, antioxidant, and antimicrobial activities of commercial turmeric.

[12] Study of the property of lipids reducing of curcumin on hyperlipidemia mice after fermented by Monascus purureus.

[13] Evaluation of the Anti-obesity Activity of Platycodon grandiflorum Root and Curcuma longa Root Fermented with Aspergillus oryzae

[14] Anti-obesity effect of extract from fermented Curcuma longa L. through regulation of adipogenesis and lipolysis pathway in high-fat diet-induced obese rats.

[15] The protective effect of fermented Curcuma longa L. on memory dysfunction in oxidative stress-induced C6 gliomal cells, proinflammatory-activated BV2 microglial cells, and scopolamine-induced amnesia model in mice