Black Pepper: The Power of Your Everyday Spice

Updated: Dec 17, 2019

By Jasmine Patel Jamerson

Applied to Cannabis

THC Living begins the Synergy of Food series with a common spice found in almost all kitchens across the world, Black Pepper Corn. Those tasty little flakes that snip at your nasal receptors, pack a power punch of chemicals and effects; like cannabis.

When reading the scientific review published by Ethan Russo in the British Journal of Pharmacology, we see the close compound of cannabis and pepper create “Phyto cannabinoid-terpenoid effect,” which is known to help with pain, depression, addiction, and anxiety. Combining what we know about terpenoids, like beta-caryophyllene, in pepper with THC in cannabis this has a chemical reaction on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Creating a calming effect, lessening side effects like anxiety and paranoia associate with cannabis use by both binding to the same receptor in the brain. [1]

The Benefits of Black Pepper

In today’s news and social media, cannabis facts are thrown at our screens at a constant rate. Who hasn’t heard one fact or another on THC and CBD, the medicinal properties associated with this fringe plant? What we are also in need of is, the medicinal properties of the everyday kitchen and how this applies to responsible Cannabis use; while understanding the power of the foods we eat and enjoy.

Black pepper, Piper nigrum, originally grown and found on the vines of India, has been a kitchen stable as well as a medical one. According to Ayurveda, the properties of black pepper work to help metabolize food as it is digested in our system, ease the issues associated with colds and flu, and even aid in weight loss.

What is the chemical in this spice we must thank? Piperine! Piperine is the chemical that makes black pepper have that tingly spice. It prevents inflammation stress and has shown in lab studies to promise in the treatment of diseases like cancer, arthritis, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s. It may also increase metabolism, improve cholesterol, enhance brain function, and reduce pain. One of the earlier reports about piperine synthesis is Tsuboi and Takeda's strategy in 1979, which showed it as the first-ever compound to enhance the “bioavailability” of other substances. In other words, piperine increases the ability of the body to use nutrients and drugs through improved absorption.

Black Pepper and Salt Grinder

So, we can use lower or fewer doses of a drug and can be used to achieve the same effect. This is very beneficial when it comes to drugs that have unpleasant side effects (like THC when used in excess)!

How does Piperine achieve this?

By stopping the body from breaking down drugs by blocking drug-metabolizing enzymes in the liver.

Increasing the number of drugs and nutrients absorbed in the gut by stimulating gut transporters

For instance, piperine increases the bioavailability of curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, in rats by 154%, and in humans by 2,000% [2]

To Sum up

Black pepper and its active compound piperine may have potent medicinal properties when combined with or without cannabis. It is coveted by Kitchens, Ayurveda, and Science all over the world. Despite these promising findings, more studies in humans are needed to better understand the health benefits of black pepper and its concentrated extracts. It has been shown time and time again this flavor-enhancer is worth adding to your daily cooking routine.


Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Shoba G1, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS.

European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry

Volume 176, 15 August 2019, Pages 149-161

Phytochemical and pharmacological attributes of piperine: A bioactive ingredient of black pepper SergeyShityakovaEhsanBigdelianbAqeel A. HusseincdMuhammad BilalHussaineYogesh ChandraTripathifMuhammad UsmanKhanghMohammad AliShariatii


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