Doctor's Note

Why would we care about boosting curcumin levels? I started talking about this golden spice pigment in Which Spices Fight Inflammation? and Spicing Up DNA Protection and then moved on to treating actual clinical conditions in Turmeric Curcumin and Rheumatoid Arthritis and Turmeric Curcumin and Osteoarthritis. Next I’ll end this video series with some cautionary notes in Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric.

I’ve previously covered this topic of food synergy in videos such as Apples and Oranges: Dietary Diversity and Garden Variety Anti-Inflammation that emphasize the importance of eating a variety of plant foods to take advantage of some of these interactions.

The black pepper mechanism reminds me of the grapefruit (Tell Your Doctor If You Eat Grapefruit) and broccoli (The Best Detox) stories. A testament to the power of plants.

The painkilling properties of aspirin mentioned in the video are actually found throughout the plant kingdom: Aspirin Levels in Plant Foods.

In some circumstances, traditional medicine wisdom seems incredible (Tomato Effect); in others, dangerous (Get the Lead Out). But that’s what we now have science for!

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  • Martin V.

    Great video! But now i’m worrying about black pepper, hahaha. If it inhibits drug metabolism, what happens to toxic substances consumed along with black pepper?? I mean, we always have our liver trying to get rid of such compounds, right?

    • guest

      that’s an excellent question! Wish I had an excellent answer. Possibly it might only be good to increase curcuim using the turmeric or with-fat methods. Or have periods for a couple days where you do pepper and then let you body expel everything normally.

      • cayenne pepper heart

        I eat pepper every single day, in large doses (I love it), and have for years. Pepper is very good for you and excellent for your heart.

        • MarshaCS

          cayenne pepper does not contain the piperine that is in black pepper. Therefore it will not have the bioeffect that black pepper has. By the way, you need not take the curcumin and black pepper together. If you make tumeric tea, for example, the pepper you use in your cooking will suffice to have the pepper and tumeric act together. To learn more about this phenomenon see turmericforhealth (.)com. You will find some amazing information from an Indian in India who has made it his life’s work to study Ayurvedic medicine.

          • Stacey Stokes

            I’m wondering about the effectiveness of turmeric tea. If it’s not water soluble, are we really getting it? I know heating is good for making it bio-available, but that doesn’t mean that the water is absorbing it (if you know what I mean.)

          • krosst

            Boiling for 10 min. incresses solubility 12 fold

          • lilyroza

            Are you talking about turmeric, and where did you find this information, please?

          • Chuck

            The milk in the tea comes to the rescue here. Curcumin is soluble in the oil of the milk!

          • lilyroza

            Dr. Greger and other scientifically informed, cutting edge nutritional experts do not recommend milk or other dairy foods, they contribute to a plague of diseases. For information, search milk or dairy in the topic section of this site. Dr. Greger is founder of this (non-profit!) site, and the author of the blog and the creator of all these thousands of videos, take a listen!

          • herbivorous.cyborg

            I don’t see any reason to assume that the turmeric would need to be dissolved into water in order for the human digestive system to absorb the curcumin. The body is capable of utilizing a variety of nutrients including both water-soluable and fat-soluable.

    • Take the curcumin with coconut oil instead of pepperine.

      • Sparty

        Shortest, but best answer here. Coconut oil is brilliant

        • Cindy Sullivan

          Does the cur cumin need to be combined with the black pepper or oil before consuming it?

          • Shawn P

            Yes you need the black pepper which contains piperine.

        • lilyroza

          Dr. Gregor and other cutting edge nutrition specialists do not recommend coconut oil. It is mostly a saturated fat, and contributes to inflammation and heart disease. Don’t fall for the marketing hype. Search coconut oil on this site for Dr. Greger’s videos, especially “Is Coconut Oil Good for You?” (short answer:NO) and “Does Coconut Oil Clog Your Arteries?” for science, not marketing.

          • Israel Navas Duran

            Apparently (according to some Dr Greger’s video) the reasons for which certain saturated fats promote inflammation has nothing to do with being saturated, but with either being contaminated with bacterial endotoxin or containing certain pro-inflammatory byproducts resulting from a heat process to extract oils or refine them. In theory, coconut oil should be free of endotoxin or other pro-inflammatory compounds. There’s still the question of the transient drop in cardiovascular function a few hours after a meal (a similar case to it would occurred after olive oil consumption), but such situation are only of concern to those with preexisting heart insufficiencies.

          • RobinHood

            False. Coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride that is THE only saturated fat that is recognizable by our central nervous system and beneficial to the body. The human brain is the most fatty organ in the body up to 60%. Don’t fall for junk science because MCT does protect against corrosion of the central nerves leading to Alzheimer’s. Look up benefits of MCT.

          • Thea

            RobinHood: Coconut oil *also* has long chain saturated fat. ( You can’t ignore the long chain saturated fat in coconut oil. Coconut oil, unless highly processed Franken-oil, is a package deal with both long and medium chain saturated fat. Just like Coke has water which is good for you, that doesn’t make Coke good for you, because Coke is a package deal and comes with lots of bad stuff too. Also consider that your body makes all the saturated fat you need. So, there is no reason to eat to it or to believe that coconut oil is good for you. Dr. Greger covers the science available regarding coconut oil. It would be enlightening to check out:
            Also, consider your argument of, “The human brains is…” What our brains are made up of says nothing about how much fat we should get in our diet. Everyone acknowledges that omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are essential fats. That means that we have to get some fats from our diet in order to be healthy. But too much of anything is unhealthy. Even too much water can kill you. But think about how much of our body is made up of water… That’s why arguments about, “Your brain is made up of…” are not logical. It would be like saying we should consume 60% of what we eat as water because someone’s body is 60% water. Yikes.

          • RobinHood

            Ah so if that’s the case, then how is it that those in Asian countries consume more healthy fats such as coconut oil or even ghee than traditional western diets and still have less cardiovascular disease? Find me something that shows coconut oil benefits vs hazard to health comparison and not just a research from one doctor. From what I’ve found over and over again coconut has more benefits to no benefit for health. Of course anything in excess isn’t good for you, but in moderation it’s fine. Given the cases of neurological disorder in the elderly in this country it ought to be something to be considered for consumption.


          • Thea

            RobinHood: I’m not aware of any countries that consume more total fats than the Standard American Diet and which have less heart disease–especially if adjusted for calories and exercise. One thing to keep in mind is that those cultures which eat a lot of coconut are typically eating more of the whole coconut (which has all that fiber for protection) than just coconut oil. So that may explain some of the differences. It’s not that coconut fat is protective. It’s more likely that eating a whole food like coconut is not as bad as eating the oil, especially if you are getting a lot of exercise and eating a lot of whole fruits and veggies which may help counter some of the negative aspects of the diet.
            Dr. Greger has some great information on Alzheimer’s with solid scientific research to back it up. When it comes to protecting against Alzheimer’s, the last thing someone should be doing is eating lots of highly saturated fat products. If you are interested, you can find the information about foods to protect from Alzheimer’s and food which hurt from the topic page: Dr. Greger covers the actual evidence regarding coconut oil and Alzheimer’s.

          • RobinHood

            Well. you keep referencing just one doctor and no one else. It’s just fear mongering out of ignorance. Here it is: Coconut oil vs Alzheimer’s. Everyone knows that the Standard American Diet doesn’t work for everyone since every one has a different genetic make up, weight, height etc. You can’t expect to have a one size fits all type diet for everyone. it’s crazy.


          • Stefan Weilhartner

            especially in thailand you cannot isolate the eating habbits of coconut fat from everything else. they have plenty of delicious fruits and they consume lots of ginger, spring onion. in the curry pastes there is also garlic, tumeric. so they are consuming lots of extremely potent anti-inflammatory foods too. this may counterbalance the bad fats that are also in their diets from coconuts.

          • Thea

            Stefan: That makes sense to me!

          • Stefan Weilhartner

            i guess if you use coconut milk which contains coconut fats/oils it could simply be much better that consuming for example sunflower oils with tooooooo much omega-6 fats instead.

          • RobinHood

            Listen to this man dr Leonard Caldwell about cholesterol in this video. When people speak of fats, it’s attributed to cholesterol in the body. Now unless it’s hydrogenated fats or something the body can’t use or anything in excess, it will be bad for you. Also, it has never been proven that dietary cholesterol contributes to blood cholesterol, which is why the study on egg consumption is turning around. In fact, egg is good for maintaining HDL/LDL balance improving cholesterol health. Coconut oil, a source of this fat, contributes to the layer of protection for nerve cells like wire insulation.


          • Thea

            RobinHood:I can understand why you believe these things, but they are very easy to prove false. For example, you wrote”…it has never been proven that dietary cholesterol contributes to blood cholesterol.” In the following blog post, Dr. Greger links to just one study out of many showing/proving that dietary cholesterol affects blood cholesterol:
            What’s more, the effect of saturated fat and dietary cholesterol together affect blood cholesterol in even worse ways than separately. (And when separately, saturated fat has a worse effect than dietary cholesterol.) And what do we get from eggs? High in both dietary cholesterol AND saturated fat. This is why all properly done studies on eggs (ie, valid studies that do not use junk science) show that eggs raise blood cholesterol levels.
            There is nothing “turning around” when it comes to eggs or saturated fat. You are listening to people who are lying to you. They are not telling you the truth about the science. And I’m not talking about just Dr. Greger’s opinion. I’m talking about everyone’s opinion who really understands the science. For a great point by point talk on these issues, check out He does a great job of going through the works of people like you are listening to and showing how they are lying about the science.

          • RobinHood

            Well if these things are easily proven false, then you are merely posturing. There has also been studies done on benefits of coconut oils and the benefits outweigh the risks. Even this doctor was impressed and he addresses the popular misconceptions such as the one you’re having. When i mentioned of Asian countries consuming fats I don’t mean processed fats as GMO corn oil, or hydrogenated oil of the American diet. Do a research on ghee aka clarified butter for instance as it is better than butter enhancing hormonal balance etc.


          • Satir

            Years ago, perhaps in the 1950s or 1960s a group (I believe from the U. of Chicago) asked the heads of the Stockmen’s Association if they could test the participants at their annual convention for cholesterol levels. The assumption was that these “beef eaters” would have exceptionally high cholesterol levels. Much to the researchers’ surprise the stockmen’s average cholesterol level was significantly lower than for the population at large. That test resulted in two assumptions: One, that individual cholesterol levels are more a subject of lifestyle than diet, and two, that the high level of physical activity for stockmen kept their cholesterol levels low.

      • Suz54

        Yes to curcumin and coco ut oil. Reducing the size ofmy breast lump.

        • Vegan31

          Have you continued to have success in reducing the size of your breast lump? I am trying to do the same. What else are you doing? Thanks.

          • jmh

            am using baking soda, vitamin c and boron…. pain subsiding…………

          • Ken

            Try having some MSM (Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane) dissolved in a glass of water… and make sure you are not constipated.. there is a direct link between constipation and breast tumours…

      • Shawn P

        I’ve heard that you should take curcumin with fat,but always with piperine. Although coconut oil is great, you still need piperine.

      • JRfromtheeast

        How much?

      • herbivorous.cyborg

        Sure, if you want to clog your arteries with saturated fat. Despite what many hippies believe, coconut oil is very unhealthy. Whatever health benefits you think you are getting are outweighed by the saturated fat. Even when compared to other cooking oils, coconut oil is bad.

    • Timar

      Yeah sure, it’s probably the pepper on the steak and not the steak itself that’s harmful to your health…

      • sf_jeff

        Or at least that raises some interesting questions.

  • Timar

    Great video on the bioavailability of curcumin, except for the very last part, which is biased by Dr. Gregers veganism. Their traditional wisdom did not fail them on the ghee because there is evidence that saturated fats actually further increase the bioavailablity of curcumin, compared to unsaturated fats (see This paper is about carotenoids but the same mechanism probably applies for curcumin as well). Of course you can dissolve your turmeric in red palm oil instead of ghee, which provides the same benefits in bioavailability, plus plenty of carotenoids and tocotrionols (a particularly beneficial form of vitamin E).

    See this recipe for a home-made vegan “supplement” based on turmeric and red palm oil:

    • Tobias Brown

      Are you denying they have relatively high rates of heart disease, as the doctor stated at the end of this video?

      • Timar

        It’s not as simple as that. The rate of heart disease, which once has been on a very low level in India, is on the rise since people have begun to adapt a more and more westernized diet with increasing amouts of meat and processed foods. Ghee, on the other hand, has been an essential part of the traditional Indian diet for thousands of years.

      • Tobias Brown

        Are there areas of India that are not exposed to Western foods? I imagine so.

        • elhnad

          yea i agree the last part of the article is off base. only recently in the last century have the indians switched from thousands of yrs of using ghee to using the industrial seed oils full of PUFAS and that’s probably more contributing factor to the rise in CHD

      • ben

        Heart disease is not caused by saturated fat. If you still believe that you are living in the past, and even then it was known to be false by many.

    • Darryl

      Its easier to consume 20-30% more bioactive spice compounds to achieve a bioequivalent dose, than to get rid of the saturated fat and its effects on LDL transport and its inflammatory effects like intestinal endotoxin absorption, TLR4 activation, and metabolism to ceramides.

      Saturated fats, of course, are not the only concern, as high linoleic acid in many vegetable oils gives rise to proinflammatory eicosanoids.In this study, ghee appeared non-significantly less harmful than sunflower oil (66% LA 0% ALA), but the clear winner was for cardioprotection was mustard oil (15% LA 6% ALA), the preferred cooking fat in Bengali and Nepalese cuisine. Assuming the upregulation of the β-oxidation by the 42% erucic acid in mustard oil isn’t the cardioprotective factor, perhaps canola oil (19% LA 9% ALA) would be similarly cardioprotective, as it was in the Lyon Heart Health study.

      Also, hi Timar.

      • Timar

        If red palm oil would only contain saturated fat and nothing else, I would agree with you. However, as I pointed out in the longecity topic, red palm oil is a really extraordinary source of carotenoids and tocotrienols, providing 5 mg and 8 mg respectively, per 10 g unrefined oil. Given that carotenoids come in the most bioavailable form (about ten times more biavailable than those from cooked vegetables), it is actually more than sufficient to consume about 5 g of red palm oil a day, an amount from which you still get a fair share of tocotrienols and which contains as little saturated fat as half an avocado. Moreover, if you consume the palm oil the way suggested by my recipe, you even take additional advantage of that tiny amount of saturated fat to further increase the bioavailability of the turmeric contained in it.

        • Crazy Kris

          Unless you eat no green and yellow vegetables or fruits, getting carotenoids is a no-brainer. Better to get them in veggies than in a processed and potentially rancid tropical oil.

          • Timar

            No use in arguing with dogmatics…

          • Cheryl

            Palm oil production and harvesting is devastating on the environment. Surely there are better ways to get carotenoids.

          • Timar

            I doubt whether the production of the organic, fair-trade palm oil I buy is devastating the environment. Moreover, by the very same reasoning you should avoid soy products, as industrial soy production is at least equally devastating to the environment. Bottom point: you can’t just make sweeping conclusions about the environmental impacts of a certain food without differentiating by production quantity and quality.

      • Ken

        You mean Canola oil, the partially hydrogenated GMO oil?

        • Darryl

          Yes. No dietary intervention for secondary cardiovascular prevention has had results as good as the Lyon Heart Health study, which advocated Mediterranean diet while replacing other fats (butter, olive oil, standard margarines) with canola-oil based margarine. 70% risk reduction is not to be dismissed.

          Yes, natural rapeseed/canola oil is about 0.7% trans fat. Assuming that had negative effects, it was evidently outweighed by the favorable ALA:LA content, the very low saturated fat content, and phytosterols that interfere with cholesterol reuptake. That said, I think Pritikin, Ornish, and Esselstyn make a compelling case that the optimum diet for secondary cardiovascular prevention includes minimal fats of any sort.

    • D1

      “Probably”? That’s some mighty fine sciencing there.

    • Crazy Kris

      If you’re interested in vitamin E, you could use wheat germ oil, the highest natural source of vitamin E. It’s the active ingredient in lipo-wheat ceramide capsules that they sell for younger looking skin Even if there is a loss of absorbability, the article you reference, indicates the loss is only 20-30%. Because I’m a little crazy and I believe the stuff I read in Life Extension’s forum, I add a pinch of BHT to my oil to act as preservative and antioxidant at the same time, while protecting from herpes and similar viruses.

      • Timar

        No, I’m not interested in vitamin E.

        However, I would strongly advice you not to you use BHT at all. It is a synthetic antioxidant, which has been replaced even as an industrial food additive because of concerns regarding its toxicity. You are more than just “a little crazy” to put your trust in the obession of some crackpots populating the forum of a supplement company (the same member there who is relentlessly writing about the purported benefits BHT is also speading all sorts of paranoid right-wing conspiracy theories, from denying Global Warming to Obama being a Muslim who wants to destroy the USA…)

  • DoctorDave

    It’s a little troubling to me that by using this tactic we are deliberately bypassing the role of the liver. Does anyone else find this troubling?

    • Coacervate

      The liver is not a one trick pony. It has a whole range of strategies to eliminate stuff. If pepper stuffed up liver’s function so that it made people sicker instead of better then traditional medicine would probably detected that. Instead this particular enzyme inhibition helps. This is one little phrase within the “symphony” that helps you hold onto curcumin a bit longer.

      • DoctorDave

        What? Actually, the pepper dose does bypass all the “liver tricks” because the curcumin is getting through when it would otherwise be filtered, and the “symphony” is unbalanced to make this happen. That was the point of the video. My concern is that pepper may also allow other stuff to get through? Coacervate, you are putting a lot of trust in “traditional medicine,” whatever that is, to detect sub-clinical problems with pepper ingestion. Most of them are still trying to find the magic bullet for every ailment, and they still discount food altogether for degenerative disease. And whoever edited my original comment did not preserve it’s message and did not do a service to your readers. It’s actually slander to edit my comment and post it as if from me. Please stop.

        • Thea

          DoctorDave: re: ” And whoever edited my original comment…” I’m not aware of any policy that allows people to edit other people’s comments. So, this should not have happened to you. I’m sorry this happened. I’m forwarding your post to NutritionFacts staff to investigate. But I don’t know if Disqus keeps track of that level of information for us to be able to do anything about it. If you think that someone is modifying your posts again in the future, please let us know.

  • Coacervate

    So much good biochemstry here. You are a rare gem Dr. G. but I am conflicted because I am in the “no oil” category, i.e. I’ve had a heart attack. But I want to break the rule enough to use oil to carry curcumin and other fat-soluble goodies across.

    Question: Does a little oil help our bodies absorb curcumin?

    Timars recipe, based on the dreaded palm oil for vegans sounds logical but all I can hear is Essy’s voice “no oil or there’s the door!”

    • Timar

      If you use a very modest amount (5.6 g as in the case of my recipe) of a perfectly natural, unrefined oil, like red palm oil to greatly increase the bioavailability of turmeric you actually create or enhance a “whole food” synergy not unlike that present in whole food sources of fat, like nuts or avocados (one suggested 15 g serving of my recipe contains about as much saturated fat as an ounce of almonds or one avocado) but in this case providing an even more concentrated and powerful package of phytonutrients.

      There’s no doubt that one should avoid consuming large amounts of saturated fat, refined oils or fried foods, but there is simply no rational basis for drawing a line between healthy whole foods rich in fats, such as nuts and avocado, and dishes composed out of whole foods, like a salad with some extra virgin olive oil sprinkled over it in order to enhance the absorption of phytonutrients (and to provide some valueable antioxidants on its own). Dr. Esselstyn’s “no oil” dogma is an exaggeration that is not based in science.

      • JoAnn Downey

        There IS fat in grains, veggies, fruits and legumes. Just not a whole lot. But patients of Ornish and Esselstyn actually reversed heart disease on a regimen which kept fat to less than 10% of daily caloric intake. That’s 22 grams of fat on a 2000 calorie diet. Dr. McDougall has been eating this way for decades and he looks healthy and well nourished. A little fat goes a long way.

        • Timar

          Have you even read what I wrote?

          • JoAnn Downey

            Yes I did. I think a few nuts or avocado is way healthier than oil, which is processed and stripped of almost all micronutrients. And I’ll admit I’m pulling your chain a little with the following, but Jeff Novick explains the bioavailability issue way better than I do: ”

            Extracted Oils are not “necessary” in salad dressings, nor are they a necessary component in a diet. Oils are highly refined, highly
            concentrated, high calorie dense, low (overall) nutrient dense foods.

            It’s no surprise that when oil was added to some foods, the absorption rate of the lipid soluble component of the food (i.e.,
            carotanoids) increased. But, this doesn’t automatically mean that the oil is necessary or the increased absorption rate is better.

            However, if you had just added more of the original food, in the same calorie value as the added oil/fats, you would have ended up
            with even more TOTAL caratonoids. What I mean is that in one of the studies they used tomatoes and oil. They compared the
            absorbed amount from tomatoes without oil and from tomatoes with oil. But it wasnt a fair comparison. What they needed to do
            was to equal out the calories in both examples. If you compare a tomato (lets say 22 calories) to a tomato (22 calories) with a TB
            of oil (120 calories), it’s not fair, because you added 120 calories to the second one. So, to even it out, they should compare what
            happens if you add 120 calories of more tomatoes to the first tomatoes vs. adding 120 calories of oil to the second tomato.

            1 tomato (22 calories, 3165 mcg lycopene, 552 mcg beta carotene)

            I TB Olive Oil (120 calories, 0 mcg lycopene, 0 mcg beta carotene)

            Now, they say, add the oil to the tomato and the relative absorption of the lycopene and beta-carotene go up, Maybe so.

            But, what if you just added 120 calories of more tomatoes? Eat about 5 more tomatoes. Not only would you get about 17406
            mcg of lycopene, and 3037 more mcg of beta carotene, you would also get 8 more grams of fiber, 6 more grams of protein, 68 mgs
            of Calcium, 1,8 mgs of Iron, 74 mgs of magnesium, 162 mg of phosphorus, 1603 mgs of potassium, 86 mg of vit c, etc etc
            Even though the “relative” absorption may be slightly less, you still win on total absorption of the carotenoids and of EVERYTHING
            else. Plus you get more food, higher satiety and you dont get hungry. Which fills you up more, 1 TB oil or 5 more tomatoes? :)

            Besides, All plants including vegetables contain fat. Maybe not as much as some high fat foods, but they range from around 5-15%
            of calorie.A natural unrefined unprocessed whole foods plant based diet, provides enough fat.

          • Timar

            The notion that all oils are “processed and stripped of almost all micronutrients” is complete nonesense. Extra virgine olive oil, just like red palm oil, is simply mechanically pressed from the whole fruit, essentially the same way today as in ancient times. It contains all the oil soluble micronutrients.

            It’s absolutely ridiculous to judge olive oil by its content of carotenoids. No one ever claimed that olive oil contains carotenoids (however, one tablespoon of red palm oil contains 13,000 mcg of carotenoids…)

            No, oil isn’t necessary to survive or even to thrive. However, a moderate amount of the right oils will not only enhance absorption of fat soluble micronutrients and provide health benefits its own but also make eating healthy so much more pleasurable.

          • John C. Smith

            The problem here is that Palm oil is not the right type of oil. Palmitic acid, which is nearly 50% of palm oil, cannot be seen as beneficial to one’s health.

            From the World Health Organization:

            Saturated fatty acids raise total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but individual fatty acids within this group, have different effects (3-5). Myristic and palmitic acids have the greatest effect and are abundant in diets rich in dairy products and meat. … The most effective replacement for saturated fatty acids in terms of coronary heart disease outcome are polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid. This finding is supported by the results of several large randomized clinical trials, in which replacement of saturated and trans fatty acids
            by polyunsaturated vegetable oils lowered coronary heart disease risk (6).

            Eat a cup a kale if you want Beta Lycopene, Lutein or Zeaxanthin!

          • Timar

            I never suggested to make palm oil your main dietary staple. Is is really so hard to comprehend that with nutrients we always deal with something called a “dose response relationship” and that nutrients which are dentrimental if consumed in excess are harmless or even beneficial if consumed in low enough amounts? Would you suggest not to eat nuts or avocados because they contain some palmitic acid?

          • DH

            I try to do everything I can to limit by total SFA (saturated fatty acids) intake. I realize that from what I already get in my diet — canola oil, nuts and seeds, etc, etc, etc — I am already getting enough SFA and do not wish to add further direct oils like red palm oil. I am already at a moderately high level for a vegan. I think that is the point that other commentators are trying to make here.

          • Timar

            Saturated fats are not trans fats. From my review of the scientific literature (paying close attention dose response relationships) it is not necessary to “do everything” you can to limit your intake of them. Anyone who consumes a vegan whole food diet using predominantly monounsaturated oils (olive and canola) should have plenty of room to add small amounts of saturated fat without any adverse health effects. Moreover, whole foods (red palm oil or olive oil are as close to a whole food as an oil can possibly get) always come as packages. From the studies on tocotrienols and palmitic acid and their respective effects on cholesterol levels, red palm oil would provide a beneficial net effect on cholesterol levels (the 8 mg of tocotrienols contained in one teaspoon of RPO are expected to lower LDL cholesterol to a greater extend than the 5 g of palmitic acid are expected to raise it, at least for non ApoE4 carriers). Given the non-linear dose reponse relationships for both nutrients, I would expect beneficial effects from small amounts of RPO (< 10 g/day), less beneficial effects from moderate amounts and perhaps negative effects from very high amounts in the daily diet.

          • DH

            My other concern is that consuming specific so-called “health foods” every day to achieve some long-term health goal on the basis of biomarker results is suspect. If that was the case, there would be no end of health foods that one would have to consume every 24 hours to be maximally healthy. That is why I dislike the term ‘health foods’.

            If RPO has specific hard event data, please cite; I would be very interested to see it. Most likely what there is in the literature on the level of human hard event data is on the order of ecological studies – e.g. whole cultures that consume palm oil (same as red palm oil?) have low rates of cardiovascular events, but there are myriad other influences as well.

            I said I try to reduce my SFA to as low as possible because the types of foods I prefer in my diet provide me with at least moderate amounts of SFA (and other fats) – for example, I consume tahini (crushed sesame paste), hummus (which is enriched with canola oil), nuts, pumpkin seeds, grains and very small amounts of olive oil. Already I am getting far more SFA than I need, because of my preference for these foods. The kinds of diets that have been shown to produce extremely low rates of cardiovascular events were very low fat vegan diets.

          • Timar

            I’m tired of arguing with poeple who are unwilling or unable to comprehend what I actually wrote. I mentioned, very specifically, “plenty of animal studies, showing protective effects and several human RCTs” and referened one such trial. I won’t compensate for your laziness. Go to yourself and search for red palm oil.

          • sf_jeff

            “using predominantly unsaturated oils (i.e. olive and canola)”

            I am not sold on olive oil. Moderate amounts of olive oil are probably healthy, but in large quantities canola would probably be far healthier than olive.

          • tonibark

            I would take anything the WHO says with a grain of salt
            if you are using fats to fuel your body as opposed to glucose, palm is a great choice . lots of MCT oil for fuel and it does not cause denser LDL, excessive carbs (glucose) does
            I follow my patients lipid subfractions and when they swich off of polyunsats to sats and monos, they do better. Polyunsats are not so great.

          • sf_jeff

            Polyunsaturated fats seem to me to be a bad category, lumping healthy canola oil together with unhealthy corn oil. What does “They do better” mean?

          • tonibark

            Sorry, patients do better off all the unhealthy polys

          • sf_jeff

            Again, what does “They do better” mean?

          • JoAnn Downey

            I stay the same healthy weight on 2000-2200 calories give or take. The majority of what I eat is starch – potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, brown rice, whole grains. Also a lot of green and yellow veggies and fruit, but you are right, calories need to be sufficient for energy use.

          • Cheryl

            Oils have no fiber that whole foods do. Fiber protects from absorption of these oils, just like fiber protects from absorption of sugar in fruit (vs. fruit juice)

          • Timar

            Fiber does not slow down let alone diminish the absorption of oils. It only does slow down the absorption of carbohydrates.

          • Toxins

            Considering the endothelial impairment caused by olive oil, it does not seem to be beneficial for those consuming a low fat plant based diet.
            A diet high in unsaturated fat is more beneficial then a diet high in saturated fat, but there is no necessity to consume extra fat if you are already consuming a very low fat diet comprised of plants. Calories can come from whole food sources rather then an empty calorie food. Yes there are some phytonutrients in olive oil, but miniscule when compared to other whole food sources. Its like claiming eggs to be healthy because there is a presence of lutein. Its the definition of reductionism.

            Absorbing more of a nutrient does not automatically equate to better health, as is the case with B-carotene. “These data, although in varying populations, suggest that 3 to 6 mg/day of β-carotene from food sources is prudent to maintain plasma β-carotene concentrations in the range associated with a lower risk of various chronic disease outcomes” In addition, “As just detailed, plasma and tissue concentrations of carotenoids have been associated with a variety of health outcomes; that is, higher concentrations are associated with a lower risk of cancer, coronary heart disease, and all-cause mortality. This could be used as a possible indicator for establishing requirements for carotenoids. However, the limitation of this approach is that it is not clear whether observed health benefits are due to carotenoids per se or to other substances found in carotenoid-rich foods. Thus, these data are suggestive of prudent intake levels, not required levels of intake.”

            Thus, focusing on consuming a healthful dietary pattern rather then focusing on consuming a specific food, like oil, is more appropriate and applicable.

            Moreover, populations that consume very low fat diets comprised primarily of plants have some of the best health outcomes and most desirable biomarkers.

          • Timar

            We ain’t riding that dead horse again, ain’t we? ;)

          • Toxins

            Its only because you refuse to acknowledge my points is it really dead. Your bias is towards supporting an unhealthy habit in an unsubstantiated way. In one of the studies I presented, salad reduced FMD by 70% so clearly olive oil alone is not a health promoting substance. I have never seen a study showing a diet high in olive oil supporting a diet very low in cholesterol, low enough to be considered “heart attack proof”. The FDA has acknowledged the limitations of the benefits of olive oil, “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.” So in other words, its not the olive oil, but the reduction of saturated fat.

      • Dr. Esselstyn is dealing with a population of patients whose arterial disease has become clinically significant. He is publishing the result of his long term follow up in an upcoming issue of JFP. It shows a terrific improvement over the Courage study which had an annual recurrence of about 20%. Adding oil to a salad is one way to increase the absorption of phytonutrients the other would be to add some nuts/seeds/avocado. Given the complexity of our metabolic and digestive systems I would be careful about advocating isolated nutrients. It is also very easy to pick out isolated metabolic pathways to justify the belief that a particular food is particularly good for us. The best diet should be tailored to an individuals goals. As the human population continues to grow it is also important to look at factors beyond the individual. Dr. Esselstyn’s approach is based on his experience and the very real and beneficial clinical outcomes of his patients.

        • Timar

          Dr. Esselstyn studies, while showing impressive results, do not allow for any conclusion regarding which factors in his comprehensive but uncontrolled lifestyle intervention program contribute to the outcome. Dr. Esselstyn has clearly left the territory of science with his assertion that any kind of oil is to be categorically avoided. It is no use arguing with a cult leader, to which Dr. Esselstyn has set himself up, or with his disciples in that respect.

          • DH

            Are they really uncontrolled? I believe he quotes one cohort where the patients had 49 events in the 20 years preceding entry and only 1 event in the 20 years post-entry (these numbers may be slightly off, but the message is clear, and when patients act as their own controls, this is a very powerful way to reduce selection bias and hidden confounding).

          • Timar

            Sorry, but this is utter nonesense.

    • Laloofah

      Coacervate, we too are “no added fats” vegans, but as with everything else, I see no reason why we can’t get plenty of the fats we need for increasing the bio-availability of curcumin (and all the other things for which we require a tiny bit of daily fat) from whole plant foods like avocados, olives, nuts, seeds… I plan to just enjoy a bit of those along with my turmeric-seasoned foods and/or beverages. (I also have my own concerns about palm oil, namely the destruction of rainforests and orangutans).

      • Timar

        By the same logic you should have to be concerned about soy consumption. Of course, those enormous amounts of soy for which the Brazilian rain forests are destroyed, are not produced for the vegans eating their organic tofu, but for the meat industry. Similarly, the enormous amounts of palm oil, which in its refined form is a cheap source of solid fat for the processed food industry as well as for many non-food applications are certainly not produced for the few health nuts eating small amounts of organic, red palm oil.

      • Thanks, I looked a bit deeper and find that you and Dr Forester are right…my diet has plenty of lipids, all I do now is have tumeric at the right time.

        Regarding palm oil, I agree. My country is helping to drive this horror by feeding the waste products from this industry to livestock. We own about 20 percent (or more) of international trade in dairy and so facilitate this process and the knock on effects on wildlife and our own health.

    • sf_jeff

      10% oil is surely a lot healthier than 1% oil even if you have excellent reasons to avoid 30% oil.

  • Godwin

    The indigenous people have the wisdom of the natural world. But how about the livers ability and wisdom to get rid of stuff that is not welcome in the body. Maybe it is a sign that we should not to take Turmeric in any form.

    • Timar

      Please try to get at least a basic clue about metabolism and what the liver does before writing such a nonsensical comment…

      • cckb

        I don’t like to see insults. Please try to be more understanding of other people and their quest for information. Perhaps you could give a link on how the liver works. I am sure it would benefit us all.

      • Dan

        I second cckb’s comment. Much of what you say is thought provoking, but change your tone! How about telling us why, in a sentence, the liver is getting rid of a beneficial nutrient.

    • sf_jeff

      More likely there are compounds that are “like” tumoric but less helpful and the liver is helping to get rid of those.

      Another possibility would be that in the 24 hours after major injury, turmeric is bad for you and this had much larger survival indications 100,000 years ago than it does today. Inflammation is probably far more aggressive in our bodies than it needs to be because of the .01% of the time that inflammation can be a short term life or death matter.

  • John Galt

    Dear Dr. G:

    Enhanced Bioavailability, curcumin (or was it turmeric?), black pepper, best berries, best fruit, best veggies, blend, juice, cook, etc . . . Who is on first? This is getting confusing.

    Doctor: could you please write me (us?) the Ultimate Prescription for the Ultimate cooked green-fruit with loads of various spices Super Cure All Smoothie? I am cerial! I am an engineer, not a biochemist but I am happy to (daily) prepare and chug whatever you recommend (prescribe).

    Many Thanks for your life changing info.

  • Rodica Atzberger

    Isn’t pepper also enhancing curcumin availability (even x100) by increasing gut permeability?

    • Darryl

      While cayenne and paprika increase gut permeability, black pepper appears to reduce it. Piperine (the active component in black pepper) also reduced transport in the study that cemented its role as cytochrome P450 inhibitor.

      • Are you saying that cayenne and paprika increase gut permeability of curcumin –or of other compounds as well? Is increasing gut permeability always a good thing? Couldn’t it lead to toxins flowing from the gut into the blood or being reabsorbed from the blood by the gut, too?

        • Darryl

          No, cayenne and paprika increased permeability of a intestinal celll monolayer to marked large dextrans (starch like molecules) in vitro, by interfering with the gap junctions between the cells.

          Two different reactivity patterns were observed: paprika and cayenne pepper significantly decreased the TER and increased permeability for 10-, 20- and 40-kDa dextrans but not for -70 kDa dextrans. Simultaneously, tight junctions exhibited a discontinuous pattern. Applying extracts from black or green pepper, bay leaf or nutmeg increased the TER and macromolecular permeability remained low. Immunofluorescence ZO-1 staining was preserved.

          • Sorry, but I’m still confused. Is the increased ability of certain starch-like molecules to permeate the intestinal cell a potentially harmful consequence?

          • Darryl

            “Leaky gut” usually refers to the gaps between cells in the intestinal lining. These large dextrans are very bulky molecules, comparable in size to the 10-20 kDa intact bacterial lipopolysaccharides (endotoxins) involved in post-prandial inflammation and sepsis, and pass into circulation mostly by infiltrating between cells of the intestinal lining. Fluorescently marked dextrans of different known sizes were used in the experiment to determine how much the plant extracts influenced the tight junctions that glue cells together, preventing ingress through the gaps.

            I linked the article in response to Rodica’s question. Black pepper’s active component (piperine) appears to have no effect on gut permeability, but instead inactivates a liver P450 that metabolizes many beneficial phytochemicals like curcumin before they can reach systemic circulation.

          • I don’t understand the consequences of these distinctions. Help!

          • Darryl

            Think of those numbers as the size of the holes in a colander. The larger the hole, the more likely a given type of pasta will slip through.

            The distinctions in that quote apply to the molecular weight of the starch-like dextrans, and as the the density of most starches and proteins are comparable, this provides a rough measure of how large a molecule might sneak past the gut’s enterocyte monolayer, as the density of most starches and protein are comparable. A dalton is the same as atomic weight, and as the average amino acid is about 100 daltons, and median mammalian protein around 375 amino acids long, the median mammalian protein is about 37 kDa in weight. Increasing permeability to 10-40 kDa proteins lets down the city gate for a lot of unwanted material. Endotoxin particles range from 10 kDa up to 1000 kDa for aggregates.

            The enterocytes that line the gut have some means of expelling unwanted compounds they absorb. Also, compounds passing through enterocytes commonly wind up in the portal vein to the liver, where the hepatocytes can detoxify and expel unwanted compounds. However, if the cell adhesion proteins (eg tight junctions) that hold enterocytes together are disrupted, as may be the case when some foods are ingested according to the aforementioned paper, then any of the disolved detritus normally in the gut may bypass enterocytes. If they wind up in the portal vein, the liver will still conjugate and expel them, though with some potent inflammatory compounds (like endotoxins) this may result in chronic liver inflammation. If compounds from the gut pass into the intestinal lymphatics (as most ingested fats do), then they’re likely to be distributed throughout the body.

          • sf_jeff

            So, to summarize based on the article:

            “The observation that Solanaceae spices (paprika, cayenne pepper) increase permeability for ions and macromolecules might be of pathophysiological importance, particularly with respect to food allergy and intolerance.”

            In other words, cayenne and paprika increase permiability of other compounds as well and this is possibly a problem if you are concerned about leaky gut. If I am reading it correctly.

      • So we don’t want our guts to be permeable because leakage could trigger allergic or other adverse reactions, correct?

  • Mike Quinoa

    Off-topic, I know, and I hope this is okay with Dr. Greger, but everyone should read this post from John and Ocean Robbins. And please submit a comment with your opinion to the government before it is too late.

  • Atom

    Wild! So does this molecule in black-pepper inhibit liver metabolism of ALL fat soluble things? Like… If someone eats a steak with black pepper and fat-soluble “bad things”, does the black-pepper make the “bad things” more bio-available?

    Aside from animal products and conventional (sprayed) produce, what should we NOT eat with black-pepper?

  • Psych MD

    Good video, but bioperine is pretty old news. While it does provide an impressive spike in peak blood levels, those levels are pretty short-lived as shown in the graphs. Science really has improved upon this:

    • Grandpa Wally

      I’m a member of LEF but we must always consider that LEF stays alive by selling supplements. I prefer, whenever possible, to take nutrients the natural way if I can. For a good daily dose of curcumin, I mix 1/2 tsp tumeric powder with 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, with juice of 1/2 fresh lemon and 1/2 glass of room temperature purified water every morning before breakfast. It’s a fiery concoction, so I chug-a-lug it down. After doing this for several years, my cardiologist commented that I had “a very strong heart!” So, gentlemen and ladies, I give you an alternative method of consuming bio-available curcumin regularly, “if you’re “man” enough.” (grin)

    • I went to your link on the Life Extension site. It read an awful like an advertisement for a patented product. Not a source I take seriously. Anyone have comment on this?

  • Liz

    A most interesting discussion and appreciate all aspects. I very much appreciate for Laloofah to raise the issue of destruction of jungles, loss of habitat of orangutans and other animals. We have alternatives and hope that others too will seek out less harmful options. I believe, overall, it comes down to the amount we consume; in small doses, our body can digest everything.

    • I believe you would be interested in the talk, Willie Smits restores a rainforest. It is an example of improving the environment, the lives of local people, social justice and saving alot of orangutans as well. We focus on health but there are environmental, social justice and the issue of suffering of other sentient animals that are important considerations.

  • I dissolve a capsule of curcumin in 2 teaspoons of coconut oil to increase it bioavailability. I started taking curcumin this way and have continued taking curcumin this way instead of taking curcumin with pepperine because high doses of the concentrated pepperine can be toxic.

    • nc54

      what about heat treating the curcumin? didn’t we learn from an earlier video that unheated turmeric doesn’t work? or at least not nearly as effectively.

      • Ashwin Patel

        Dr G,
        You need to ask weather Bioavailability of Curcumin is important at all. The Historical use of Turmeric (not Curcumin) in the diet is known to provide long term good health. Turmeric as the whole spice is not used in mega doses by Indians in their cooking. Very little is needed and too much will spoil the taste of your dish. For therapeutic use, the whole herb is “cooked” in hot milk and taken as a Tonic at bedtime. It is possible that the Casein in the milk reacts with the Polyphenols in the Turmeric and forms a complex which arrives in the small and large Intestines “intact”. I believe it is in the Colon that the active ingredients in Turmeric are “active”! Here’s my take:
        The microflora in the Colon convert the Polyphenols into smaller molecules which have a physiological action on the body. I think these molecules work similar to the Short Chain Fatty acids such as Butyric Acid. Perhaps as agonists for the GPR109A receptor?
        This would explain why the Turmeric works at very low doses.
        Maybe you will dig up some articles for your next Video on the NIACIN receptor and the benefits of Polyphenols at low doses?

      • That was just raw curcumin by itself. By itself is loses its bioavailability. Curcumin as part of the turmeric root is bioavailable because of the oils in the root. When curcumin is extracted from turmeric is loses the oils and its bioavailability. When turmeric is mixed with an oil it becomes totally bioavailable and bypasses the liver and goes into the bloodstream. I use coconut oil because oil its medium chain fatty acids are quickly burned and for because of its antiviral properties.

  • WG

    What works synergistically with B12 to boost it’s effectiveness?

    • Angelo

      It doesn’t need anything. Just make sure you take the right kind methylcobalamin.

    • Grandpa Wally

      Vitamin B-12 (as methylcobalamin) is available in patch form for greater absorbability. I apply a patch behind my ear every day.

  • Avishek Saha

    Great video truly, Dr. Greger you are an inspiration to me.

    But why pick on ghee? I do not have access to the 1987 article cited but the first two articles on ghee I found on pubmed conclude that ghee does not increase risk factors for heart disease:

  • Avishek Saha

    Also why is it so difficult to answer how curcumin is absorbed from consuming WHOLE turmeric? Everyone seems to be researching bioavailability of curcumin after consuming only curcumin. Guess I’ll have to dig a bit more.

    The study that mentioned curcumin + turmeric oil did provide some insight, but it’s still not whole turmeric, in powder or fresh root form.

  • chris

    Excellent debate—all of it.
    While some of you are trying to find the right combination to stay healthy, we radical cancer survivors look for “chemo doses” to keep aggressive cancers at bay:
    I have been using tumeric various ways mentioned to keep late stage ovarian cancer from a BRCA1 deletion from growing/metastasizing further in the lymph nodes for over 5 years. Most recently, using the liquid supplement form from NC vitamins 2x/day with green tea, pomegranate concentrate and some form of cruciferous with my meals which contain a little coconut or olive oil fat, according to the recent UK double blind prostate cancer study —my CA125 inflammatory marker dropped ~20%, from 10 to 7, in a month, surprising my oncologist, who expected it to start climbing. I think cranberries in my smoothies may be preventing kidney stones. Also, the tumeric-piperine combinations don’t feel as good in supplement form, but adding up tumeric to a soup or Ayurvedic curry feels much better.
    So, while I am loving the ideas you all are giving me, try not to be too hard on yourselves, and with each other–there is truth in all you recommend—and physiology, biology and genetics is a dynamic process with our environment .

  • Steve Mayer

    It would be enormously helpful to have some guidance about dosing. Mention is made of a quarter teaspoon of black pepper. No mention of the quantity of turmeric is made. It leaves me wondering if a tablespoon of turmeric with a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, daily on food, would get the job done?

    • sf_jeff

      I would guess that those levels would be near the upper limit. A teaspoon a day with pepper would likely be better than a tablespoon with pepper all around. It would be nice if people with joint pain could post effective doses for them, though. Also look for the “cooked vs uncooked” discussion. A combination is “better” if you are willing to assume that more bio-availability is better.

  • Toby

    I make a lot of Indian food, and now when I use individual spices I’ll be sure to add pepper. Your bit about ghee at the end and high rates of heart disease in India surprised me. I believe that only the wealthy would use very much ghee at all and the vast percentage of the Indian population is not wealthy. In fact, although it might have changed since I lived there, most food preparation used an equivalent of crisco rather than butterfat. Ghee, spread on flat breads, or used to fry onions and spices that would be added to a lentil dish, was used in very small amounts. Indians consume a lot of deep-fried snacks, and the sweets are very heavy in sugar and milk products. I should think there are reasons other than the use of ghee for the rate of heart disease in India.

  • Bryan

    Curcumin’s bioavaiability is impacted by both absorption into teh blood stream and then removal by the liver. as I understand Piperine delays removal by the liver.

    Fat helps with absorption.

    Lipid encapsulation/nano formulations appear to provide greater bioavaiability

  • Angel

    I love your video but…Aspirin, C9H8O4, as the “in” indicates, is an alkaloid coming from an extraction and, do I not remember correctly to state that it was first created by reaction with coal tar? It is not equal to Salicylic acid C7H6O3, which is found in nature.

  • Angel

    I was wrong of course, it was the acetyle group who did it to the coal tar, never the less- it is synthetic and has totally different properties than anything found in nature.

  • sf_jeff

    So if someone was on cancer drugs would adding black pepper to a meal with curry be a good idea or bad idea?

  • Bioengineer

    Could we please have a straight answer on the safe daily dosage of turmeric powder?

    • lilyroza

      A maximum of 1 teaspoon a day, with 1/20th of a teaspoon of black pepper. That’s 1/5 of a quarter teaspoon pepper.

  • Cheryl

    I add a little pepper with my daily turmeric, but how can I eat it with a healthy fat to boost bioavailability? It seems that processed/extracted oils are bad, and coconut oil should only be eaten sparingly ( according to Dr. G. I can only eat so many avocadoes. What is the best way to improve curcumin absorption on top of black pepper, i.e. what is the best type of fat to eat with it? I was doing coconut milk yogurt for fat and probiotics, but that also doesn’t seem ideal ( and Please help!!

    • Thea

      Cheryl: How about eating it with some whole nuts? It’s probably a good idea for most people to eat an ounce or two of nuts a day anyway. Maybe find a way to combine your nut eating with your turmeric eating? I wonder how turmeric and peanut butter mixed together would taste??? :-0

      Or maybe you could eat the turmeric (with some black pepper) in some capsules like some people are doing, and then eat a few walnuts right after. So, it would all mix in your tummy at the same time. I would think.

      Just some ideas for you.

      • Cheryl

        Great idea! For some reason I was thinking that it must be mixed with a liquid, eating nuts totally makes sense.

  • Tara

    Ok, I’m a bit confused… if you take curcumin as turmeric (either the root or the powder) you DON’T need to add black pepper or a fat to increase bioavailability? Is this correct? As I understand it, curcumin alone would need black pepper or fat to increase the bioavailability but turmeric does not (as it already has natural fats)? Am I right in my thoughts here? Not sure how on earth you’d just ingest curcumin alone (ie not as turmeric) – unless in supplement form…

  • Tara

    Hello – I’m a tad confused. I’m sure there’s a simple answer, but I just can’t come to the conclusion myself -please help! You say that black pepper helps the absorption of “turmeric curcumin” but then you say that if you eat the curcumin in the whole food form, ie as powdered turmeric root, you don’t need the black pepper to boost absorption because the natural fats do that for you. So am I to assume you only ever need to consume black pepper or fat with curcumin alone and if you use powdered turmeric you don’t need either of these additives? Thanks!

    • Yes, I think your assumptions are correct based on my understanding of the video and some of the subsequent comments.

  • tonibark

    If one adds up the average carb content of they Indian populations with high rates of heart disease and diabetes, one sees very clearly why, in spite of eating tumeric and black pepper, they have these diseases. THere is often, at one meal, chapaati, rice, potatoes and mangoes for desert. more carbs in one meal than needed for the day.

  • Martie

    Could someone discuss what they know about this:
    BioPerine® vs. Black PepperIt is a general impression that the more you consume nutrients, the more will be made use of by the body. But biologically speaking, this is not always true. Some nutrients taken at a higher dose will actually negate the benefit and will not be absorbed by the body. Ideally speaking, the less, the best.

    Similarly if one believes that since Bioperine® is sourced out of black pepper, all one need to do is increase the consumption of black pepper. Again you have gone wrong, for the direct intake of black pepper will not help achieve enhanced nutrient absorption.

    According to clinical reports, having BioPerine® “in the right place at the right time” in the digestive tract with supplemented nutrient results in enhanced absorption. So BioPerine® when taken during illness will have the best nutrient absorption. Besides if piperine were to remain captive in the form of raw black pepper, it will take time for its bioavailability enhancing property to be released. Therefore, a purified extract of piperine is necessary to get the increased absorption.

  • Joel Santos

    Hi Dr. Greger.does this mean that it’s okay to sautee my garlic onion ginger and curry powder in a little bit of canola oil to release the flavor? If no, what fat source should I add if any? Flax seeds?

  • Great info once again Dr G.

    Certainly some lively discussions in this thread.

    Here’s how I use turmeric:
    – add turmeric powder to my food when cooking it. I add it to the leek/onion & garlic base when they are first being lightly cooked in water before adding subsequent ingredients.
    – take turmeric powder off the spoon when drinking my morning or evening green smoothie or freshly made green juice.
    – add fresh turmeric root, crushed with a garlic press/crusher, to my bowl alongside other ingredients that are not going to be cooked/heated, such as avocado and lemon juice and fresh ginger root.

    I’m lucky that I live 15mins drive from an Asian supermarket that sells fresh turmeric root for £1 per 100g (I live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK).

  • sf_jeff

    Does this mean you should avoid putting pepper on fish to avoid vitamin A issues?

  • VenlaTuominen

    Excellent video as always. Thanks for highlighting the article at the end on ghee. My roommates this year are Indian. While I love having access to all those spices, they still do not understand why I refuse to eat their ghee-based curries, because “everyone knows that it is good for you.” (130 calories, all fat, most of it cholesterol and saturated? Not sure this is healthy . . .) I think I’ll show them the article next time they try to tell me to eat ghee.

  • Sir, you are confusing me. If our liver is “actively trying to get rid of curcumin”, why, for health’s sake, to try to “boost” the effect of such a thing? Are we cleverer than our liver? Is something wrong with our liver so it is trying to get rid of toxins? Please, explain your philosophy on this. What is your viewpoint?

  • BYOL

    As always this is great, Dr. Greger. Many thanks!

    Dr. Rob Ostfeld (Cardiac Wellness Center) shared this study of turmeric and DHA production with me, and that I thought you might find interesting.

  • Peoplehouse

    I am amazed that so many people making comments seem to
    think that canola oil is healthy and that no one has mentioned this thus far. Approximately
    90 percent of canola oil is GMO. Need I explain that the rape seed crop is heavily
    sprayed with glyphosate all through the life cycle of the crop, including just
    before harvest to ripen the seed. I have also read that canola oil is heavily
    refined to get rid of the nasty smell and taste of rancidity, additionally it
    has an unhealthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. The healthy choice is to avoid
    all canola oil.

    • Thea

      Peoplehouse: Here’s the perspective that I find helpful when it comes to talking about oils: *No* oil is healthy. All oils are highly refined, essentially pure-fat products. Canola is not special in that respect. That said, if you are going to have some oil at all, then canola is a *relatively* good choice. You can get an organic product to avoid GMO and the sprays. And while the omega 3 to 6 ratio is bad, that ratio is better in canola oil than most other commonly used oils, including olive oil.

      So, for me, while I personally try to avoid all oils as much as possible, if I’m going to say spray some oil on my popcorn because I feel I Just Must Do So, I’m not going to kid myself that I’m making a healthy choice, but I am probably going to choose the canola as a marginally better choice over the other options in my fridge.

  • Montie

    Excellent info except for the last little blurb on butterfat and heart health. The latest studies show that the old connection between saturated fats and atherosclerosis as dreamed up by Ancel Keyes and his blind followers is totally false. All the biased studies trying vilify saturated fats failed if properly analyzed instead if being written up in circuitous language attempting to minimize the results, inevitably show the truth. Fortunately after nearly 50 years of bias and misinformation in public health policy that has undoubtedly contribited to our current sad state of chronic metabolic desease in this country, the truth is coming out little by little.

    If taken in supplement form, what would be the effective dose for curcumin and piperine? I’d prefer it in whole good form but one can only eat so much curry.

  • Cathy Katin-Grazzini

    Dr. Greger, are you advocating boosting curcumin with piperine? It’s unclear in your reporting. Thanks.

  • I take a turmeric supplement every day. If I use it in cooking, I try to incorporate coconut oil as well to help with the absorption. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in the pain and swelling I get from my arthritis.
    I decided to take turmeric for my chronic inflammation when a relative told me about the anti-inflammatory benefits he was seeing from it. He suffers from a severe chronic inflammatory disease. After I began to use it, I noticed a small changes really quickly and a even more significant changes within about 3 weeks. I’ve been taking it faithfully ever since and feel so much better. In my opinion, turmeric is one of the best natural anti-inflammatories out there and I appreciate all the thoughtful information in the video. It will help me to make sure that I am getting the most anti-inflammatory benefits from the turmeric I cook with.

  • just a thought

    I take curcumin with piperine in the morning and add cocanut milk to my golden curry chicken at night(delicious!!!) i feel like a new person

  • Jerry LA

    We ise a black pepper extract Pepperine to help absorbability. Some manufacturers such as NOW have curcumin treated for absorbability. Do note the Real Biggy is the preponderance of plant based diet in India vs. Meat & Dairy & Refined white flower in the U.S. We converted others we’ve talked to and some are leaning that way. The FDA and the family physician don’t have a clue. They should lead the forefront.

  • Yana

    I am currently have chemo and wanting to the best way to take Tumeric, my Naturopath can get me capsules or tumeric liquid what is the best to take these supplements

  • Karen Edscorn Board

    Very helpful. We recently added turmeric to our son’s diet (he’s on the Ketogenic Diet for Seizures) for its anticonvulsant and anti-inflammatory properties, and were mixing it in with a little mayo (fat for better absorption), but now we know to add the black pepper. Since turmeric is in same family as ginger, I wonder if the same holds true for using this herb medicinally. I’ve been adding fresh ginger to his pumpkin/flaxseed muffin.

  • The Vegan

    Can I get the best way to use turmeric please. I want to know what is a good amount to take each day and in how many doses per day. Also the amount of black pepper or whatever else I should take with the turmeric.And should I just add water to it and drink it raw? Or is there a more effective way to ingest. Please, as much specific advise as possibly so I can get the most out of this. THANKS!!!

  • Karen

    What is the ideal amount of Black Pepper to add to Turmeric to get the maximum benefit? Dr Gregor suggests 1/4 tsp of Turmeric daily in his book, but I’m not sure how much pepper to add. I’m making a big batch of capsules for my Mom, who has multiple health issues but doesn’t like curry, etc. Would adding 1/20 tsp of Black Pepper the correct proportion? (a ratio of 5 parts Turmeric to 1 part to Pepper) Would you get more of a benefit with more Pepper?

  • Vj Khalsa

    I had heard that black pepper can shut down the liver detox pathways, thus allowing for toxins
    to be absorbed. Liposomal Turmeric is a great way to enhance bio-availability of turmeric.

  • Kevin brown

    What is the ratio of black pepper to turmeric for enhancement? The best I can find is about 1/4 tablespoon black pepper to 1 cup of ground tummeric powder.

  • Kevin brown

    We are making a product that stews these and other spices for arthritis, and internal organ function. The “cook” has been using a ratio – by volume- of 1 to 8 {1/8 black pepper/turmeric powder}. The best I can fin from researching products with these blends is 1/128 to 1/64. The 1/8 ratio seems extreme but I can not find a site with a blend ratio stated openly.

  • Kevin M. Kerwin

    Should curcumin/termeric then not be taken by people on chemotherapy?

  • Kevin
  • Nice blog with debate on turmeric and its usefulness in human anatomy.
    Yellow turmeric has so many nutritional value, freshness for daily healthy lifestyle, purity and safety measurement.

  • For those interested in boosting the bioavailability of curcumin with piperine, it should be noted that piperine works on a myriad of substances – not just curcumin.

    Piperine is a common ingredient in many dietary supplements, particularly those that were designed for weight loss. It inhibits a process within the liver called glucuronidation, which is a process in which a glucuronide molecule is attached to various drugs, supplements, and even some nutrients to flush them out of the body. When glucuronidation is inhibited, these drugs and supplements aren’t flushed from the body, which allows them to become highly concentrated in the bloodstream. We’ve covered piperine in depth in this article:

    If you choose to take a piperine supplement, it is very important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist beforehand.

  • James love

    Does heating increase or decrease bioavailability? I read boiling for 10mins increases solubility by 12 fold but does that equate to increased bioavailability?

  • Wafaa Abou Ali

    Dr. Michael …In reference to your videos regarding anti arthritis formula and its synergistic effects when combined together, I am wondering if I mix turmeric, pepper, ginger, rosemary, and cloves and fusion it like a tea…do I have a better effect than each alone.

  • Sandra

    A lot is mentioned about the importance of even a little black pepper when consuming turmeric but I haven’t been able to find out what the ideal ratio is. Could you tell me how much pepper would be idea for say, a teaspoon or a tablespoon of turmeric? I would like to mix the two to fill my own capsules.

  • healthy ian

    Sounds like to boost bioavailability we should pepper in some pepper and consume turmeric with fat. What is a “good fat” to consider?