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Piperine: An Alkaloid Compound from Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the most used spices in the world and is cultivated in more than 26 countries [1]. Although originally Black pepper is from South India, specifically the Western Ghats region, in 2021, Vietnam becomes the largest producer of Black pepper, followed by Brazil, Indonesia, and India [2].

Black pepper has many benefits, for example in culinary, for flavoring and preserving food [1]. These benefits are obtained from the bioactive compound of pepper, namely piperine.

What is piperine?

Piperine is the most abundant alkaloid compound in Black pepper which gives pungency and biting taste to the spice. This compound in its pure state is yellow crystals with a boiling point of around 128-130 degree Celcius [4].

Piperine has a chemical structure identified as piperoylpiperidine (C17H10NO3) with the IUPAC name 1-(5-[1,3-benzodioxol5-yl]-1-oxo-2,4-pentadienyl) piperidine. Piperoylpiperidine (piperine) has 4 structural isomers, namely piperine (trans-trans isomer), isopiperine (cis-trans isomer), chavicine (cis-cis isomer), and isochavicine (trans-cis isomer). However, three of them do not produce a pungency [4].

Source: Piperine—The Bioactive Compound of Black Pepper: From Isolation to Medicinal Formulations

Benefits of Piperine

1. Antioxidant activity

Piperine has anticancer and antitumor activity. There are reports that piperine can reduce lung metastases by activating enzymes and modulating lipid peroxidation. In addition, piperine has also been shown to inhibit angiogenesis of breast cancer cells in vivo [4].

2. Anti-inflammatory activity

Standard piperine has been shown to have good analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. Based on Gorgani et al., piperine exhibits an inhibitory effect on asthma [4].

3. Bio-enhacing ability

Piperine increases the bioavailability of many drugs or vitamins and can be applied as a bio-enhancer. It can increase the assimilation of beta carotene, curcumin, selenium, vitamin B6 and amino acids [3,4].

4. Stress management support

Piperine produces significant changes in nitric oxide levels, a pathophysiological mediator of depression, thereby validating the action of piperine on depressive symptoms [5].

5. Support weight management

Piperine helps the stomach secrete more of the hydrochloric acid it needs to digest food in the stomach. This helps increase the metabolic rate in the body, therefore burning fat faster and helping one lose weight [6].

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[4] Gorgani, L., Mohammadi, M., Najafpour, G.D. and Nikzad, M., 2017. Piperine—the bioactive compound of black pepper: from isolation to medicinal formulations. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 16(1), pp.124-140.

[5] Harshita, J., Prateek, J., Bharti, A. and Dheeraj, A., 2015. Ameliorating effect of piperine on NO-cGMP pathway in stress induced depression. Science, Technology and Arts Research Journal, 4(1), pp.109-114.


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