Curcumin is the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which is member of the ginger family.
In addition to being the main ingredient in curry powder, which is often used to make dishes popular throughout Asia, turmeric has been used for thousands of years as part of the Indian Ayurvedic tradition.1 Furthermore, there is an ample body of research showing curcumin’s benefits for treating a variety of conditions, ranging from osteoarthritis, to cancer, to liver problems.1-3
An interesting body of research has arisen about ways in which to boost the healing power of plant-based supplements by increasing their bioavailability, or the percentage of the plant extract that actually gets into the body’s system.4 Adding in other plant extracts can sometimes increase bioavailability.
Curcumin’s bioavailability is poor, as it is quickly metabolized in the intestinal wall and liver.5-6 Therefore, the focus of research has been on extracts that decrease such absorption, thus boosting curcumin’s bioavailability. Extracts from black pepper (piperine) and pineapple (bromelain) are two such substances that may help boost curcumin’s healing powers.
Black pepper extract
The black pepper extract piperine has been one among several extracts studied in an effort to boost the bioavailability of cucurmin.5 It reduces intestinal absorption, therefore increasing the concentrations of curcumin in the body’s circulatory system.
While some studies have focused just on lab animals, others have looked at the effect of adding piperine to curcumin in humans. As one might expect, the percentage of increased bioavailability will be greater in humans than in lab animals.5-6 One 2014 study compared the bioavailability of curcumin with piperine in both human and rat subjects. It found that the bioavailability in rats increased by 154 percent for a 20 kg/g dose of piperine given with a 2 g/kg dose of curcumin.6
Furthermore, peak serum concentrations increased from four hours after dosage to five to six hours. In comparison, human subjects given a 20 mg dose of piperine with a 2 g dose of curcumin experienced a 2000 % increase in bioavailability. The time of peak serum concentration went from effectively being undetectable to anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes.6
The extract of pineapple juice and stems, called bromelain, can easily be absorbed by the body without losing any of its therapeutic benefits.7 In addition, it serves as an anticoagulant and anti inflammatory. In fact, it treats several of the same conditions as curcumin, including osteoarthritis, liver problems, and cancer.
This has lead some speculation that combining both curcumin and bromelain will provide the healing benefits of both extracts, while also taking advantage of the latter’s easy absorption to help boost curcumin’s bioavailability.7-8
Given the effectiveness of both piperine and bromelain at increasing the bioavailability of curcumin, it only makes sense to combine all three into one formulation. This provides three different extracts that treat similar conditions combined with good bioavailability.
Such a formulation will not only provide your patients with therapeutic benefits, but deliver those benefits more quickly for a longer period of time after each dose.
- Spice up your patients’ health with turmeric. Chiropractic Economics. Accessed 6/9/2016.
- Curcumin helps to treat osteoarthritis pain. Chiropractic Economics. Accessed 6/9/2016.
- How patients can have better liver health. Chiropractic Economics. Accessed 6/9/2016.
- Drug bioavailability. Merck Manual. Accessed 6/9/2016.
- Prasad S, Tyagi AK, Aggarwal BB. Recent developments in delivery, Bioavailability, absorption and metabolism of curcumin: The golden pigment from golden spice. Cancer Research and Treatment : Official Journal of Korean Cancer Association. 2014;46(1):2-18.
- Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, et al. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Medica. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.
- Pavan R, Jain S, Singh S, Kumar A. Properties and therapeutic application of bromelain: A review. Biotechnology Research International. 2012 Dec. doi:10.1155/2012/976203
- Nagpal M, Sood S. Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine. 2013;4(1):3-7. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107253