bowl of turmeric spice

Q. I have read that turmeric may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease, so I’ve been taking it for several years. I read online that turmeric needs black pepper to activate the ingredients in it. I had never heard of this before.

I buy turmeric from Puritan’s Pride, but find no mention of black pepper. Have you ever heard of this?

My late husband died from senile dementia and I want to avoid that if at all possible.

A. Curcumin and other active ingredients in the Indian spice turmeric have a range of benefits. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Researchers are actively investigating their use against cancer, arthritis, prediabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (Phytotherapy Research, Apr., 2014).

Boosting Bioavailability

Clinical trials have been disappointing, however, since curcumin is not very soluble and doesn’t get into the bloodstream easily. This problem can be overcome with piperine from black pepper or with phospholipid formulations (Current Drug Discovery Technologies, Sept. 2009). tested turmeric and curcumin products earlier this year. The brand you take passed the test, but has the same bioavailability problems of other turmeric pills. discusses the merits of Bioperine (piperine) as an additive and of BCM-95, curcumin formulated for increased absorption.

Meriva and CurcuWin are novel curcumin formulations that appear to greatly increase the amount of curcumin that gets into the bloodstream (Nutrition Journal, Jan. 24, 2014).

We wrote recently about an advance in making a curcumin formulation that should make it far more useful for a variety of ailments, not just Alzheimer’s disease.

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  1. Monthan
    Paisley, Scotland

    Have been taking Green Tea with Turmeric and ground Black Pepper for 2 months and the Uveitis in my eyes has totally settled down

    • Ron
      Central New Mexico

      It’s very nice to see black pepper getting it’s due for it’s role …. it’s KEY role in better absorption of turmeric/curcumin products.

      But just try to find out the ratio of piperine to turmeric. It’s as tho it’s been black listed from the internet.

      Could it be that nearly any amount of black pepper would do the trick? It’s time to do some trials on your own. None of these products is dangerous in realistic amounts.

      I’d be most pleased to hear if anyone has a ratio that seems to be working for them.

      If you cap your own 10% black pepper should let you know if anything is happening.

      I’ve seen claims of 2k percent increase in potentiation. That would be nice since the price of curcumin has been ravaged by corporations jumping on the wagon. Something they are sooooo good at. I very much doubt those claims but 100 % increase would be dandy.

  2. Christina

    Does heating the tumeric and black pepper combination work better if warm? I currently add both to my breakfast smoothie which is made with 1%milk and ice.

    • Christina
      NJ - New Jersey

      Correction : does CONSUMING the tumeric/pepper combo warmed up improve results

  3. Mark
    Placerville ca

    If you are making your own combination what is the Ratio between the 2 compounds

  4. Dianne
    Hearne, Texas

    I am going to try the actual turmeric spice & add black pepper to it instead of taking a pill. I think that the spices will be much better than the pills.

    • Christina
      NJ - New Jersey

      I too am using the actual spices, but do not know ratio either. Until I learn otherwise I am using equal amounts.

  5. Debbie

    I am a, 2-time, bone marrow transplant patient at City of Hope, in California. Since my transplants, I’ve developed Graph vs Host Disease, which is when the “donor stem cells” attack the patients body. This disease has affected my eyes, skin, muscles and joints.

    At my clinic appointment today, my nurse practitioner told me that several of the GVH patients that she sees, have had great relief from this type of GVH pain. Does anyone have any experience using Turmeric w/ black pepper for the treatment of GVH? If so, how long did it take before the pain began to subside? My muscles and skin are getting so hard and tight that mobility is becoming more difficult.

    Thanks, in advance, for your help.

  6. Margaret

    I’ve taken half a teaspoon of tumeric with some freshly ground pepper every day for a couple of months. The results are astonishing. My chiropractor is shocked. No more back pain, inflamation gone. It’s the best thing ever. Far better than painkillers.

  7. Lynn W

    Turmeric Users Facebook page posts a recipe for Golden Paste developed by a doctor in Australia for humans and animals. It includes Turmeric, freshly ground black pepper and a good oil – they use coconut or olive. It is heated slightly to melt and combine, then poured, cooled in doses.
    Interesting to check out

    • Esther

      That’s amazing, Margaret!

  8. Sue
    Olean NY

    A friend of mine has Ehler-Daniels Syndrome, a deterioration of collagen and failure to make healthy collagen disorder. Is anyone familiar with this disorder? Has anyone used turmeric or turmeric and black pepper to help with the symptoms? She suffers from pain, weaknesses, and many other symptoms. I am hopeful to find her some relief. Thanks.

  9. Jamam
    England uk

    Hello, being of Asian decent (Pakistan), turmeric is a regular part of our daily diet, as it is added to all curry recipes, along with other spices, such as chillies, cumin, coriander (dry and fresh). Garlic is a also an integral part of our cooking. So I guess guys you need to start eating curries more regularly!! By the way cardamon is also added to Pakistani tea, to give more flavour (also healthy).

  10. Gisela

    I am not sure if I am not taking the right dose of turmeric, but lately I am very itchy without any sign of a rash. I bought the bottle that reads non irradiated. Did someone experience the same?

  11. Bonnie
    South Park, Colorado

    Looking for best ratio for 95% piperine powder to 95% curcumin powder. Is a ratio of 1 part piperine to 4 parts curcumin sufficient? Or should piperine be increased to a ratio of 2 parts piperine to 4 parts curcumin. I use turmeric and black pepper in my green drinks daily with some success in relieving joint pain, but supplements are expensive and I am not sure I trust “proprietary blends” which tell you nothing of purity or maximum effectiveness. Am looking to purchase the 95% pure powders online and making my own proprietary dosage to get the maximum benefits for my money. I would certainly appreciate any input on the subject as I have thus far been unable to locate an answer in numerous hours of research on the internet. Many thanks!!

  12. Dawn Isaacs
    Cape Town South Africa

    I have just started taking the tumeric with ground black pepper with cold milk and is looking forward to see the results or benefits there-of as I have been diagnosed with having Fibromyalgia / Osteoarthritis and suffer much pain. Just yesterday a lady at a butcher told me that it helps with Vitiligo as it cured her son. She still gives him a half teaspoon of tumeric with cold milk first thing in morning and last thing at night. I’m excited, as I have vitiligo too. Can’t wait to see the white marks in face and neck disappear. Will keep you posted.

  13. Parameshwara
    india Bangalore

    We are regularly using turmeric, black pepper in our food preparation. We some time prepare a decoction called “kashaaya” which consists of turmeric, black pepper, onion, jaggery and water.
    2 teaspoon full of turmeric powder is added to 300 ml of water. Around 10 black pepper is taken and powdered by crushing and this is also added to the water. One medium sized onion is taken and sliced to small size and added to the water. jaggery to one’s taste.
    All are mixed together and heated till the quantity reduced to half.
    Now filter the decoction to a Cup and can drink like tea.
    This turmeric tea is ideal for most of the seasonal fever, body pain, stuffy nose, head ache, and prevention of so many decreases if taken regularly. it develops immune system in the body.

  14. Shiv

    For crossing the brain blood barrier – taking Longvida-type curcumin is perhaps the best. There are multiple brands with this kind, I think Nutrivene is one of the cheaper ones.

    You should try at least 1 gram (2 capsules) a day, if you are able to afford it, do it twice daily. Also I recommend going for Bioperine pills with it OR taking it with a teaspoon of organic black pepper to make the highly bioavalable turmeric even better absorbed. (Ideally take it with Omega-3 fat from whole fish oils, this is good for your brain health as well – at least 1-2 grams of EPA and DHA each from fish/algae sources or half a gram from krill oil; if taking fish oils, I’d recommend a teaspoon of extra virgin cold pressed/first press olive oil to improve absorbtion, no need for using this with krill oil).

    You CAN also try BCM-95 types of curcumin (with Longvida types) – generally both these kinds of curcumin will leave different profiles of free curcumin in the blood. Try to get at least 2-4 grams of curcumin into your system each day.

    I’d recommend taking an avocado each day for healthy fats and potassium to add “living fats’ into your diet.

    Finally, focus on anti-oxidants and alkalizing foods or supplements. Do it all judiciously – and the chances of dementia, etc, may reduce.

    You are recommended

  15. Tracy
    New Zealand

    Thank you for including citations from research studies. All to often this ‘voodoo’ nutritional information is not based in any validated studies. Anyone who ‘thinks’ something is true should do a little research to see if it is actually proven and not just hyped by someone who is selling a supplement or has some other agenda.

  16. Charlotte Sterner
    United States

    I thought Tumeric can thin blood and those on a blood thinner should use it with caution. Is that true?

  17. N. Mims
    Fort Worth, TX

    I have been using a seasoning mixture sprinkled, liberally, on most of my foods for years (meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, eggs, etc). It consists of a mixture of Turmeric, Garlic Powder & Black Pepper–equal parts of each ingredient–mixed together and put in a shaker bottle (reused a spice bottle with larger holes). I believe the recipe was featured several years ago on the Dr. Oz show, as part of a Heart Healthy segment. I find this an easy and tasty way of including Turmeric in my daily diet.

  18. celeste
    Dayton tx

    I would like to know how much pepper per 500 mgs of turmeric is needed, please.

  19. lou g
    San Antonio

    I recently bought a bottle of Turmeric Curcumin. One of the ingredients is bioperine. I won’t know until I’ve tried it awhile, but it seems to have what People’s Pharmacy suggests is a good way to absorb the turmeric.

  20. Sam

    Do we know the numbers – how much do these additives increase availability of cucurmin? Would doubling or tripling the amount of turmeric we consume achieve the same result?

  21. PAMELA

    I have been taking turmeric for about a year. There is no pepper that I can find in the formulation. I’m awaiting the result of a CRP test that measures inflammation. I did notice, almost immediately after starting turmeric, that it produced almost clockwork regularity. I had to reduce the dosage from the recommended three tablets per day to just one. For that reason alone, I love the stuff!

  22. Elisabeth Jezierski
    United States

    I thought I was subscribed. Perhaps this notification was not intended for me.

  23. gene
    new york

    The cave man some how knew what plants & roots etc to take when needed. Natural is best thank you.

    • EdistoEdd
      Cola, SC

      What was a typical lifespan of a typical ‘caveman/woman’?

  24. cpmt

    ah, I forgot to mention that it should be used with some kind of fat, oil, or butter or… to be disolved. used in soups, meat dishes, vegetable dishes etc. cooked with some fat.

  25. cpmt

    Yes I heard that more than a year ago. as well as garlic should be cut and let stand for 5 to 10 min. before using it. Other spices and herbs combine to help get the benefits.

  26. Judith Vera Barra
    United States

    There is an Indian drink that uses both turmeric and black pepper that, in my opinion, is tastier than taking just capsules. It’s especially nice during the winter because it’s warm. Put a spoonful of honey, a teaspoon or two or turmeric, one cardamom pod and a sprinkle of black pepper (preferably from a pepper grinder) into a glass of milk (I use soy milk) and heat it in the microwave. Stir well to mix and enjoy. Wonderful before bed, healthy and delicious!

  27. Sally

    Do the turmeric & black pepper need to be taken together or is using black pepper at dinner & taking the Turmeric later satisfactory?

  28. Vicki

    Please notify me of updates on turmeric and black pepper studies.

  29. K Frost

    What about cooking with tumeric? Should one include black pepper? How much? Thanks.

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