Everyday Chemicals: Piperine

everyday-chemicals-e28093-pepper-piperine

This infographic was taken directly from Compound Interest and I have no ownership nor do I claim to have made this myself =) As I’ve told my Lower Sixth students, it is very important not just to Know and to Understand what we learn in class, but even more important to Apply it to real life situations. Chemistry has Chemicals in abundance! We should be able to know what each chemical does… whether it has one function, multiple functions and ESPECIALLY if they cause side effects. That is among the crucial roles of a Research Chemist.

Piperine is a nitrogenous organic compound of plant origin that has pronounced physiological action on humans. Other alkaloid compounds, as they are called, include morphine, quinine (drugs) and atropine (poison). Now one may view the name of the compound itself with the suffix -ine to denote an amine, which would be technically correct. However, the full name of this compound is 1-[5-(1,3-Benzodioxol-5-yl)-1-oxo-2,4-pentadienyl]piperidine. What a mouthful! You have to understand that every compound with a shockingly short name hides a possibly incredibly long IUPAC name.

Piperine is basically an essential component of black pepper. The ‘hot’ taste is due to piperine (similar to capsaicin – found in chilli peppers). According to the infographic above, piperine causes a spicy taste that is only 1% of that from capsaicin. It is also contained in various homeopathic remedies and even in Chinese medicine. Now there is a chemical that we often use, but never really cared about why or how it works. I wouldn’t say this is Molecule of the Month material, but if anyone has a molecule to suggest, please email me at ptekchem@gmail.com.

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