The 1996 patent awarded by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to Sabinsa Corporation on the use of the trade marked extract of black pepper, BioPerine® (containing at least 95% piperine) has been much in the news recently, on account of misinformation generated by oleoresin maufacturers who tried to sell the product for its patented use. Critics have made a totally false accusation that the patent interferes with the export of black pepper and its products from India.
The patent refers to the USE OF PIPERINE, specifically to increase the bioavallability of compounds such as vitamins, amino acids and minerals in nutritional supplement formulations. It is not a product patent and does not infringe upon the export of black pepper, piperine or pepper oleoresin from India, Indonesia or Sri Lanka. Based on documented research and detailed clinical studies, the patent only serves to render credibility to the use of a piperine as an enhancer of nutrient bioavailability.
A recent study further validates the use of BioPerine® in enhancing bioavailability of nutrients by improving absorption and altering their disposition. The in vivo utility of curcumin, a valuable antioxidant phytonutrient, is sometimes hampered by its poor bioavailability due to rapid metabolism in the intestinal wall.
Concomitant administration of piperine with curcumin (5 mg BioPerine® /500 mg curcuminoids) to human volunteers resulted in a significant increase in serum levels of curcumin for a short post-administration period (1-2 hours), as compared to controls receiving curcumin alone, and decreased its elimination half life. The increase in bioavailability of curcumin in the 0.25 hour to 1 hour post-administration period with piperine was 2000% . The authors of this study concluded that in the dosages used, piperine enhances the serum concentration, extent of absorption and bioavailability of curcumin, with no adverse effects (Planta Medica 64 (1998), 1-4). The study was conducted at St. John's Medical College, Bangalore, with funding from Sami Chemical & Extracts Ltd., Bangalore, India- a Sabinsa Company.