Bio-availability is the rate and extent to which an active compound is absorbed into your body’s circulatory system and reaches the targeted site of action.

In other words, it refers to how much and how fast a substance that you swallow is actually absorbed into your body. By definition, when a drug is administeredintravenously it has 100% bioavailability, and undergoes immediate and complete absorption

A compound that has poor bio-availability isn’t effective for healing purposes on its own. Curcumin, for example, has very low bio-availability. Curcumin is the active compound found in turmeric root, and it has potent curative properties. However,research shows that most of the curcumin that you ingest is metabolized before it reaches your bloodstream. What’s more, increasing the dosage doesn’t result in increased absorption.

Luckily, curcumin’s bioavailablity can be enhanced by taking it with small amounts of black pepper. The black pepper contains a compound called piperine, which acts as an adjuvant – a compound that boosts the the bioavailability and effectiveness of a medicinal compound in your body.

In this video, Dr. Greger discusses how to boost the bio-availabilty of curcumin.

Research studies show that the bioavailalbility of micro-nutrients can be significantly increased through the use of specific combinations of food ingredients. Fruits like mango and papaya, for example, when eaten in combination with milk, provide a significantly higher amount of bioavailable β-carotene.

Three antioxidant spices: onion, garlic and turmeric are culinary ingredients that have also been found to enhance bioavailability.

A 2008 study found that food acidulants such as lime, tamarind, and amchur significantly increase the bioavailability of beta-carotene from green, leafy vegetables. Lime juice, turmeric and onion also minimized the loss of beta-carotene from heat processing of these vegetables.

Food preparation methods have also been shown to increase bioavailability: sprouting, fermenting and malting, for example, enhance the bioavailability of iron from plant foods.


  1. Absorption and tissue distribution of curcumin in rats
  2. Ann McIntyre (1995), The Complete Women’s Herbal
  3. David Hoffman (2013), Holistic Herbal: A Safe and Practical Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies
  4. Food Science and Nutrition, 2012. Bioavailability of Micronutrients from Plant Foods: An Update
  5. Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry, 2008. Influence of food acidulants and antioxidant spices on the bioaccessibility of beta-carotene from selected vegetables
  6. Pharmacokinetics: Bioavailability; University of Lausanne.
  7. Rosemary Gladstar (2014), Herbs for Common Ailments: How to Make and Use Herbal Remedies for Home Health Care
  8. Varro E. Tyler, Herbs Affecting the Central Nervous System


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