Black pepper has long been used in a variety of traditional medicines, but a recent study into the pungent spice indicates that one of its key components could play a role in fat reduction, according to a recent article by WebMD writer Jennifer Warner. A new preliminary study has concluded that the ingredient in black pepper that makes you sneeze might also help you maintain a stable body weight.
Piperine, which your nostrils will recognize as the pungent component in black pepper, is an alkaloid that has been the subject of a great deal of study. In traditional Eastern medicine, black pepper has been used to treat cholera, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems. More recently, laboratory studies have shown that black pepper has a number of medical effects, including the inhibition of drug metabolism and enhancing cognition in lab rats.
According to Ui-Hyun Park, a researcher at Sejong University in Seoul, Korea, piperine might also be able to block the formation of new fat cells. Ais study, which was recently published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, study examined the effects of piperine on gene expression in fat tissue. By using laboratory samples and computer modeling, it was found that “piperine interfered with the activity of genes responsible for forming new fat cells.”
“Our findings suggest that piperine, a major component of black pepper, inhibits fat cell differentiation,” Parker writes, “thus leading to its potential use in the treatment of obesity-related diseases…. Overall, our results suggest that piperine could be a lead natural compound for the treatment of fat-related disorders.”
In light of the obesity epidemic, studies like this are important in advancing our understanding of human fat. Plastic surgery patients undergoing liposuction and other body contouring surgeries need to maintain a stable body weight in order to reap the rewards of their surgery in the long-term. If further studies confirm Park’s conclusions, the active ingredient in pepper may soon become a component in the diets of those working to maintain a stable body weight.
(Image source: Bryanwake, Wikimedia Commons)