PiperinePiperine is the alkaloid responsible for the pungency of black pepper and long pepper, along with chavicine (an isomer of piperine). It has also been used in some forms of traditional medicine and as an insecticide.
Piperine has been found to inhibit human CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein, enzymes important for the metabolism and transport of xenobiotics and metabolites. In animal studies, piperine also inhibited other enzymes important in drug metabolism. By inhibiting drug metabolism, piperine may increase the bioavailability of various compounds and alter the effectiveness of some medications.
Piperine may also have some harmful side effects. Preliminary evidence shows it may be toxic in some circumstances, and may even interfere with reproductive processes, including negative effects on sperm. Piperine at doses higher than 15 mg daily may affect the metabolism of a wide range of drugs. Even lower doses may affect the bodys metabolism of some drugs.
Piperine may also form cancer-causing substances when eaten with nitrates. Experts suggest that people who take piperine supplements should be careful when also eating food that contains nitrates as a preservative.
Not enough human studies have been done to determine the side effects of chronic supplementation with piperine. For the time being, it is a good idea to take 2 days off a week, and one full week off each month from the use of a piperine supplement. It is quite likely that the small amounts of piperine could provide health benefits while larger amounts could be toxic or damaging to the liver or other organs.
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