Can We Use Cayenne Instead of Black Pepper for Turmeric Absorption?

Turmeric is an all-in-one herb. It is a natural anti-inflammatory agent, relieves pain, fights cancer, protects heart health and much more. (Read 20 Reasons Why Turmeric Is An ALL-IN-ONE herb)

Turmeric and curcumin have limited bioavailability. A simple solution to this that you can follow at home is to add black pepper to turmeric. It helps in increasing the absorption.

Readers frequently ask us whether it is OK to use cayenne pepper instead of black pepper to increase absorption of turmeric. Let’s find out what research has to say.

Is it possible to increase turmeric’s absorption with cayenne pepper?

Based on the research available till date, the answer is No; you cannot increase the absorption of turmeric/curcumin with cayenne pepper. The reason for this is that cayenne pepper contains capsaicin while black pepper contains piperine. Capsaicin is not effective in increasing bioavailability of curcumin when compared with piperine.

To increase the absorption of turmeric, we need piperine, not capsaicin. Piperine present in black pepper is highly effective in increasing turmeric’s absorption and hence can’t be replaced by cayenne pepper.

You cannot replace black pepper with cayenne pepper when taking turmeric. However, you still add cayenne pepper for additional benefits.

Here is an insight on the science behind turmeric’s absorption and why cayenne pepper may not be effective in increasing curcumin’s bioavailability.

Can We Use Cayenne Instead of Black Pepper for Turmeric Absorption

1. Piperine in black pepper is essential for increasing turmeric’s absorption

Clinical studies suggest that most of the turmeric’s benefits can’t be obtained easily due to poor absorption and bioavailability of curcumin. Curcumin is one of the turmeric’s active components.

It is poorly soluble in water, and that limits its absorption in the body. Many strategies are being developed by scientists to increase the bioavailability of curcumin. (Read How to improve turmeric’s bioavailability?)

Black Pepper has been used by Ayurveda as a bioenhancer. Piperine in black pepper interferes in the activity of drug metabolizing enzymes and thus increases the absorption of drugs or other components taken with it.

Research suggests that piperine may increase curcumin’s bioavailability by 2000%.

2. Black pepper bioactives are better than that of cayenne pepper to boost curcumin’s absorption

Researchers from Central Food Technological Research Institute, India compared the bioavailability of curcumin, capsaicin, and piperine as well as their effect on drug metabolizing enzymes.

Piperine was found to be the most effective compound in increasing absorption of therapeutic components. Combination of curcumin and capsaicin did not have a significant effect on drug metabolism.

Further in 2010, a study by the same group also had similar conclusions: bioavailability of curcumin can be improved by piperine.

Interestingly a recently published study found that capsaicin is the strongest inhibitor of certain drug metabolizing enzymes group (cytochrome P450) when compared to curcumin and piperine.

However, it is important to note that this study was conducted on human enzymes while the earlier mentioned studies were conducted in animal models. It is quite likely that its metabolism and distribution can influence capsaicin’s action on drug metabolism.

Also, cayenne pepper’s pungency can inhibit its use as a natural bioenhancer.

Therefore one cannot use cayenne pepper instead of black pepper to increase turmeric’s absorption.

How to take turmeric for daily health benefits?

Including turmeric in the diet is the best way to take the herb. Please check our list of recommended organic turmeric brands. The Golden paste is an effective way to take turmeric as it contains healthy fats and black pepper to enhance absorption. You can Golden Paste from fresh turmeric roots as well.

Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks.

It is best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds.

1 cup Turmeric Milk or Turmeric Tea daily can help with pain relief in arthritis.

If opting for supplements, please consult a health practitioner prior. Read 8 Popular Turmeric Supplements Available In Market Today

A few precautions to be noted when taking turmeric:
• Opt for organic turmeric powder.
• Avoid taking turmeric supplements if experiencing bleeding disorders or taking antiplatelet medications. (Read Curcumin: Side effects & Precautions)
• Discontinue turmeric supplements two weeks before surgery.
• Limit or avoid turmeric powder if you have kidney stones or gout. Opt for supplements if needed. (Read Side Effects of Turmeric)
• Limit turmeric intake in case of gallbladder stones.
• Avoid taking turmeric on an empty stomach. (Read Precautions with Turmeric Use)
• Start with small doses of turmeric and increase gradually to minimise gastric side effects.
• Avoid turmeric supplements in pregnancy and lactation.

Conclusion

Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin and capsaicin are not found to increase curcumin’s bioavailability.

Piperine present in black pepper is proven to increase curcumin’s bioavailability. Thus you should take black pepper, NOT cayenne pepper, to increase turmeric’s absorption.

However, you can still add cayenne pepper to turmeric-black pepper combination for additional health benefits.

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11 Comments

  1. i read fr. dr. book to take turmeric with apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, lime juice-fresh squeezed, 1tbsp acvinegar, 1/8 tsp of dry ing. and warm filter water. for diabetic daily cleanse and it helps, some, to lower blood sugar…but brother is it pungent,,,now i am seeing to use black pepper instead, but i have trouble eating black pepper, only use small amt. occasionally,,,,,any suggestions? and how much black pepper do u use? plz and tks This has helped my joints, have injuries, herniated discs in neck/back, is bone on bone, and this helps them move-before, felt tight-drawn up-could not turn neck , much better now,,,,but wud like ideas to lower blood sugar more, i also take coconut oil with ceylon cinnamon,,,thank you

    1. Hi. You can take Golden Paste. Start with small doses such as 1/4-1/2 tsp and if you see no side effects then increase the dose gradually to 1 tsp 2-3 times a day over a few weeks. Best taken with food to avoid acid reflux. Avoid taking it at the same time when you take meds.
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-turmeric-paste-or-golden-paste
      http://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-recipes/how-to-make-golden-paste-from-raw-fresh-turmeric
      This recipe calls for 1.5 tsp of black pepper powder and you can also add 1 tsp cinnamon powder to the entire batch.
      Please read:
      https://www.turmericforhealth.com/turmeric-benefits/turmeric-your-miracle-weapon-against-diabetes

    1. Long pepper does contain piperine and should aid in absorption of curcumin but more research is required to confirm this.

  2. Excellent article here. At last someone has taken the time and trouble to inform us about this combination. Thank you.

  3. Hi I take a mix of turmeric, cayenne pepper mixed with olive oil and tomato paste, daily with this I add more CP, turmeric more olive oil, fine chopped garlic and a 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper do you think this is right or wrong, as its for fighting ED been on the now for over 7 years and it works, did have ED and not now, so something is working with this and supplements I take

    1. Hello Barry. You are going to an awful lot of trouble that would be too much bother for many of us, on a daily basis. Turmeric taken with black pepper would likely also do the trick. Why not give it a try as the experts know what they are talking about. Tomato paste has entirely different properties and possibly sugar? I am taking liquid turmeric with black pepper as suggested so don’t see any reason to do such a mix. But if it works that’s all that really matters. Best wishes

    2. Hi. The combination contains a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, so it is likely to have health benefits. There doesn’t seem anything incorrect about the mix but preferably should not be taken on an empty stomach to avoid acid reflux like symptoms.

  4. WHY?
    Limit or avoid turmeric powder if you have kidney stones or gout. Opt for supplements if needed. What does turmeric do? Does it cause stones and aggravate gout?