Piperine, an alkaloid responsible for black pepper’s pungent taste, appears to be responsible for its reputed health benefits, including weight loss. New research from Korea published in the April 18, 2012 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control and promote formation of new fat cells. As a result, the investigators said that piperine may also set off a metabolic chain reaction that helps reduce body fat in other ways. The researchers noted that black pepper has been used for centuries in traditional Eastern medicine to address gastrointestinal distress, pain, inflammation and other disorders. They suggested that if further test results confirm their findings, black pepper might prove useful in treating obesity. Piperine has another valuable attribute: it enhances the absorption and anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric and its beneficial constituent, curcumin, both of which are associated with reduced risks of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.