Most of the herbs and supplements you take to improve health suffer from a similar problem – they are poorly absorbed by the body. You can get your herbs and supplements to work more effectively if you can improve how much and how quickly these valuable nutrients enter your body. The solution is spicy – it’s ginger! You pepper believe it, curcumin and black pepper also enhance the absorption – what scientists call bioenhancers.
Can You Enhance Absorption of Herbs and Supplements?
You herb it here first! You can improve how well your body can absorb herbs and supplements with the help of bioenhancers. Safe and free of side effects, such as ginger and curcumin (turmeric), natural bioenhancers have been shown in a number of research studies to improve how efficiently your body can absorb herbs and supplements to improve your health. Let’s hear it for ‘Spice, spice baby!’ (Well, thank goodness this blog isn’t a podcast – I’m a turmeric singer.)
What’s a Bioenhancer?
Bioenhancers are helpful as they increase how well the body can absorb herbs and supplements that otherwise might not be easily absorbed. Ginger is a bioenhancer that can help your herbs and supplements be more effective. Piperine is another bioenhancer – well known for its help with enhancing how well curcumin is absorbed. (Curcumin is the health-promoting star in another member of the ginger family, turmeric.) Talk about a delicious way of improving your chances of feeling pepper tomorrow!
5 Ways to Make Your Supplements More Effective
- Black Pepper: pair with turmeric to increase the bioavailability
- Ginger: pair with herbs, supplements, or nauseating medications
- Vitamin C: take with iron to increase absorption
- Curcumin: acts similar to Piperine in black pepper
- Quercetin: found in curcumin, helps slow the clean-up crew
How Does Ginger & Turmeric Make Herbs & Supplements Work Better?
In order for the herb or supplement you are taking to be absorbed by your body, it has to pass from inside your gut into your bloodstream. That’s harder than it sounds. There are many hurdles in the way: picky transport channels needed to get through a line of hard-to-penetrate cells in order to reach the bloodstream; and a clean-up crew of pumps and enzymes trying to kick these herbs and supplements out. Ginger, turmeric and other bioenhancers can help you get hard-to-absorb herbs and supplements work better in a few ways:
- Make picky transport channels easier to work with
- Improve blood supply to the area to boost absorption
- Help calm the stomach to give nutrients more time to be absorbed*
- Slow the clean-up crew so nutrients have longer to get absorbed
*Ginger is well-known to help with nausea from chemotherapy and other medications.
Best Ways to Get Your Herbs & Supplements to Work Better
Other ways to improve how well your herbs and supplements work include pairing fatty foods with fat-soluble supplements, such as vitamins A, D, or E. Other nutrients may need a cofactor for them to be optimally absorbed: iron appreciates a helping hand from vitamin C. In many cases, you’ll find these nutritional buddies present in whole foods, leading many supplements to suggest you take them with food. The best foods to take with your herbs and supplements with include ginger and turmeric. An easy way to include ginger in your day is with a quick shot of Ginger or Turmeric Juice.
4 Tips to Maximize Absorption of Your Supplements
- Consider Taking with Food
- Combine with Fats for Vitamins A, D & E
- Pair with Cofactors (Vitamin C with Iron)
- Use a Bioenhancer (Ginger or Turmeric)
Don’t herb your enthusiasm for health.
Enjoy more tips on our health blog!
Role of herbal bioactives as a potential bioavailability enhancer for active pharmaceutical ingredients. Fitoterapia 2014 Sept; 97: 1-14.
Bioenhancers from mother nature and their applicability in modern medicine. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2011 Jan-Jun; 1(1): 5-10.
Scientific evidence on the role of Ayurvedic herbals in bioavailability of drugs. J Ethnopharma 1981 Sept; 4(2): 229-232.
Bioenhancement effect of piperine and ginger oleo resin on the bioavailability of atazanvir. Int J Pharm Pharma Sci 2015 Jan; 7(10):241-245.
Bioavailability enhancers of herbal origin: an overview. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed 2013 Apr;
The regulation of dietary iron bioavailability by vitamin C: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Proc Nutr Soc 2017 Dec 11; 76(OCE4): E182.
Natural bioenhancers: an overview. J Pharma Phytochem 2013; 2(3): 55-60.
Allison Tannis MSc RHN: Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s books and articles are read around the world by those curious where are the most nutritious (and delicious) places to stick their forks. More at allisontannis.com. Follow @deliciouslygeeky.