Friday, August 6, 2010

Bioperine: Why is it Part of Your Fat Burner?

Chemical structure of piperine
from Piper nigrum (
More and more fat burners and other dietary supplement contain the patented pepper extract Bioperine. Supplement producers as well as patent holders claim that the extract that is highly standardized (95%) for piperine, a polysaccharide from black pepper (Piper nigrum), would (Sabinsa. 2009)
  • increases blood supply to the GI tract
  • increases emulsifying content of the gut
  • increases active nutrient transport
and thus facilitate nutrient absorption. Unfortunately, respective advertisements, as well as the information provided on the website of the patent holder, do not give references to scientific investigations. Reason enough for the SuppVersity to try and differentiate fact from fiction, BRO- from PRO-science.
Although not related to the claims of the producers, the most interesting study on piperine comes from scientists from Annamalai University in India (Vijiyakumar. 2006). The researchers investigated the effect of black pepper extract on hormonal and apo lipoprotein profiles in hyperlipidemic rats and found:
"The simultaneous administration of piperine and HFD [high fat diet] significantly reduced plasma lipids and lipoproteins levels, except for HDL, which was significantly elevated. Piperine supplementation also improved the plasma levels of apo A-I, T3, T4, testosterone, and I and significantly reduced apo B, TSH, and insulin to near normal levels."
In view of these promising results there is certainly more to the inclusion of Bioperine in fat burners and body recomposition products, than a mere increase in the bio-availability of the respective ingredients. These beneficial effects may well be related to the general anti-oxidant capacity of piper nigrum that has been established in a previous study by the same scientists (Vijiyakumar. 2000), where rats on a high fat diet have been suppemented with 0.02g/kg piperine over the course of 10 weeks.

It is remarkable that only few supplement companies seem to be aware of this beneficial effect (be it primary or secondary, via improved nutrient absorption) of what most consider a nice additive to their products. Also, many companies do not give detailed information on the amount of Bioperine used in their product. MAN being one of the few companies that obviously consider "proprietary blends" unnecessary lists 5mg of Bioperine on the label of their "Scorch" fat burner. For a 80kg human being the dose equivalent from the above cited studies is about 0.25g - since MAN uses the 95% pure Bioperine from Sabinsa, this product would well provide 20x the dosage that has been successfully employed to counter the negative effects of a high fat diet in rats! While most dieters won't consume an unhealthy high fat (normal/high carb) diet, anyway, it still astonishes me that these positive effects is not advertised more explicitly.

Notweworthy, yet not interesting from a dieters perspective are piperine's chemoprotective effects against certain cyto-toxic medictions (Selvendiran. 2005). And finally, back in the year 2000 there is a study on piperine and bioavailability of coenzym Q-10, to be specific. These are however the results of an investigation sponsored and carried out by Sabinsa scientists (Sabinsa. 2000), i.e. by the same company which holds the

patent on Bioperine. In that very study supplementation with Q10 + 5mg Bioperin led to
a statistically significant (p = 0.0348), approximately 30% greater, area under the plasma curve than was observed during supplementation with coenzyme Q10 plus placebo.
Although this study has been published in a peer-reviewed magazine, it is interesting that follow up studies which would validate the scientists (or should I say "entrepreneurs'") view that "bioenhancing mechanism of piperine [...] is nonspecific" were missing until a few days ago (Moghadamnia. 2010) a study on the interaction of piperine caffeine and diacepam was published. The study found beneficial effects of piperine on learning and an improvement of the stimulating effects of caffeine by simultaneous piperine administration, which may well be attributed to the higher absorption of methy-xanthines (caffeine) in presence of piperine polysaccharides.