Introduction to Piperine
Piperine is a major alkaloid present in black pepper (Piper nigrum), one of the most widely used dietary spices in the world. The amount of piperine in black pepper varies from 1 to 10%.
Summary of piperine and COVID-19
As of writing (February 2022), there are many scientific reviews regarding piperine and COVID-19 as well as many lab studies. However, there is only one published study of piperine supplementation in COVID-19 patients:
Piperine: anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
A 2015 article in the academic journal Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology reported that piperine has general anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
COVID-19 and piperine: Scientific reviews
A 2021 study published in the academic journal ‘Computers in Biology and Medicine’ used advanced computer analytics to model the effect of 7 phytonutrients (phyt meaning plant) and reported:
‘piperine was most potent at restricting COVID-19 viral entry…This result provides a significant insight about the phytonutrient role, namely piperine as a potential therapeutic entity against mutated spike protein of COVID-19.
A 2021 review entitled ‘Curcumin and Piperine in COVID-19: A Promising Duo to the Rescue?’ published in the journal Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology reviewed the scientific evidence that the combination piperine and curcumin have promising effects on COVID-19.
Curcuminoids have broad anti-inflammatory effects and scientific research demonstrates that curmcuminoids have multiple benefits against COVID-19.
One human intervention study reported that the addition of piperine to curcuminoids increased absorption by to 2000%!!! This research was published in the academic journal Planta Medica (the Journal of Medicinal Plant and Natural Product Research). It is fascinating that many traditional dishes, for example curry, are made with turmeric (the spice that contain curcuminoids) often use black pepper, which is the only dietary source of piperine. Further, curcuminoids are perhaps the most potent dietary agent against COVID-19.
COVID-19 and piperine: Lab studies
A 2021 study published in the academic journal ‘Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics’ screened 47 bioactives identified from medicinal plants for activity against the structural targets of COVID-19, including the main protease.
Piperine was found to target the hotspot residues of COVID-19 main protease, suggesting benefits for preventing and treating COVID-19.
Another study again published in the academic journal ‘Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics’ screened 30 molecules from dietary spices. They reported that piperine had the highest binding affinity for COVID-19 proteins among the all the screened molecules. Remarkably they further reported that in a comparative study, piperine was more effective than currently used drugs, including chloroquine, favipiravir, hydroxychloroquine, oseltamivir, remdesivir and ribavirin!
A similar 2021 study, this time published in the scientific journal 'VirusDiease' screened 20 bioactives identified from medicinal plants for activity against COVID-19. This study reported that piperine had significant binding affinity towards spike glycoprotein of the COVID-19 virus and ACE2 receptor leading the researchers to conclude that piperine may be useful as a therapeutic and/or prophylactic agent for restricting COVID-19 virus attachment to the host cells.
A 2021 study published in the academic journal Phytomedicine screened many phytonutrients (phyt meaning plant) and found that:
‘In conclusion, the present study successfully demonstrated the binding of phytonutrients such as piperine, to Nsp15 viral protein and might play a key role in inhibiting COVID-19 replication’.
A 2021 study published in the academic journal, Biomedicines examined the antiviral effects of 20 compounds on the COVID-19 virus in test tubes. ‘Piperine was shown to viral growth mediated by COVID-19 peptides. Moreover, piperine was shown to significantly reduce the concentration of COVID-19 virus within cells.’
A 2022 study in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine selected and tested 15 bioactive compounds against the main protein of COVID-19.
‘Among them, piperine exhibited very high docking score against the main protein of COVID-19.’
Piperine increases the absorption and bioactivity of other nutrients
We introduced above that piperine can increase the absorption and bioactivity of curcuminoids by 2,000%. Probably due to increased absorption, the addition of piperine to curcumin has shown synergistic effects in many studies.
Quercetin is a type of plant based nutrient called a flavonoid found in red onion, tea, berries etc. Quercetin has broad anti-inflammatory effects and scientific research demonstrates that quercetin has multiple benefits against COVID-19.
A 2017 study in the academic journal Archives of Pharmacal Research compared treatment with piperine alone to treatment with quercetin alone to treatment with both piperine and quercetin. The combination of quercetin with piperine was significantly superior to that of either alone. The researchers concluded:
These results suggest that piperine enhances the protective effects of quercetin
A 2020 study in the academic journal Neurotoxicity Research also compared treatment with piperine alone to treatment with quercetin alone to treatment with both piperine and quercetin. The combination of quercetin with piperine was significantly superior to that of either alone. The researchers concluded:
combination of quercetin with piperine contributed to superior effects.
And finally, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine demonstrated that the combination of curcuminoids with both piperine and quercetin seems to have the greatest synergy and result in greater absorption and bioactivity.
COVID-19 and piperine: Human studies
But we always want to look for human studies. To date, only one study with humans infected with COVID-19 has used piperine supplementation.
This study was published in the scientific journal: Frontiers in Pharmacology and reported that the combination of piperine + curcminoids led to:
- Quicker symptom recovery, including fever, cough, sore throat, breathlessness
- Less deterioration over the period of hospital stay
- Better ability to maintain oxygen levels
- Less oxygen therapy
- Less intubation and mechanical ventilation
- Less blood clotting
- Less deaths - there was a 16% death rate in the placebo group compared to a 3% death rate in the piperine + curcuminoids group
For more information on the science demonstrating a beneficial effect of curcuminoids in those with COVID-19 check out this blog: 'the scientific research on curcuminoids and COVID-19'.
The use of piperine supplementation for COVID is supported by
- scientific reviews
- lab studies
- the fact that piperine increases absorption of nutrients proven to help with COVID-19, namely curcuminoids and quercetin
- 1 human study
Since piperine supplements are widely available and safe, piperine supplementation is a great strategy to improve COVID symptoms!
An ideal piperine supplement would contain:
In addition to piperine, other supplements and nutraceuticals for COVID-19 include:
The best evidence we have suggests that regarding COVID-19 infection, earlier supplementation is better!
*Full references list and full text manuscripts available upon request
Written by our founder, Dr. Conor Kerley
Copyright of Phytaphix