Can you manage to stay slim with black pepper? Can the common kitchen-table seasoning deliver obesity-fighting effects? A new study says it just might. It’s due to the main ingredient, called “piperine.”
Talk about an inexpensive and widely available food cure. This slice of intriguing health news comes from the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.” There, researchers provided a long-sought explanation for the beneficial fat-fighting effects of black pepper. They successfully pinpointed “piperine” — the pungent-tasting substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste.
The main conclusion: piperine may block the formation of new fat cells.
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Previous studies showed that piperine reduces fat levels in the bloodstream and has other beneficial health effects. Black pepper and the black pepper plant, the researchers noted, have been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine to treat gastrointestinal distress, pain, inflammation, and other disorders.
Yet, despite this long history in traditional medicine, today’s scientists know little about how piperine works on the molecular level deep inside our bodies. The scientists in this study set out to get that information about piperine’s anti-fat effects.
They used laboratory stories and computer models to unearth the discovery that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells. In other words, on a cellular level, it stops fat from forming. In doing so, piperine may also set off a metabolic chain reaction that helps keep fat in check in other ways.
The researchers go on to suggest that this health breakthrough may lead to wider use of piperine or black-pepper extracts in fighting obesity and related diseases.
It is likely that most Americans are unaware of the deep history black pepper has in medicine. Ayurvedic healers have used it to improve digestion and appetite, and treat the common cold, breathing difficulties, diabetes and even heart problems. Anything afflicting the stomach could be treated with black pepper, historically mixed with other substances.
Some believe you can chew black pepper to reduce inflammation in the throat. Others use it in powder form to quell a toothache. Others use it externally as a paste to treat hair loss, boils, and diseases of the skin. Mixing black pepper and honey has been used as a remedy for night blindness.
And on and on it goes. While traditional medicinal cures can seem strange, they were used for a reason and most deserve at least a cursory glance from modern-day science to see what secrets they might reveal.