Alligator pepper (Aframomum Melegueta) is a popular spicy and medicinal seed with a wide range of health benefits. It is commonly referred to as grains of paradise, guinea grains, guinea pepper, Melegueta pepper, and Ose-oji among the Igbo people of Southeastern Nigeria.
Aside its health benefits, alligator pepper is also believed to possess spiritual power, and is used for morning cleansing rituals among the Igbo people. They also believe that alligator pepper can protect one from spiritual attacks and poisons. To do this, the Igbo people would take out four seeds, representing their four market days, according to the numbering system of weeks and days. The four seeds thus taken is waved over the head four times and thrown far into the bush. Thereafter, another four seeds are eaten for anti-poison purposes.
Be that as it may, grain of paradise has come to stay as one strong medicinal herb. The seeds are encapsulated in a pod, and further covered with thin brownish envelop that houses each seed within the pod. When mature, the pods are usually carton colored, while the seeds exhibit dark brownish color.
How to eat alligator pepper
Alligator pepper are usually eaten as flavoring spice in foods. It is often used along with hotleaf seeds in preparing pepper soup, in porridge yam, and in some herbal mixtures, alligator pepper is also found very useful.
Alligator pepper powder can be mixed with ginger powder, garlic, garcinia kola and taken as tea or mixed in raw pap or milk and taken. It has a hot peppers’ sensation, and a slight bitter taste.
Alligator pepper is also used in preparing Ose-oji, a groundnut paste that is used in eaten garden eggs in community meetings, marriage ceremonies, club meetings, at home.
Alligator pepper and hot drink
Because alligator pepper is believed to be a vasodilator, many herbal bitters producers in Nigeria usually add alligator pepper along other sexual enhancers in alcoholic drinks and sold as fertility drinks. However, it is not advisable to abuse those drinks as this may result to liver and kidney damage due to some antinutritional factors in some of the herbs used in preparing those drinks.
Where can you buy alligator pepper?
Alligator pepper is usually sold in small street stores, in supermarkets and in open vegetable and grocery stores. Some vendors actually sells it along the roads and streets. Alligator pepper is not a seasonal commodity, as it can be seen any day and time.
Health benefits of alligator pepper
Alligator pepper is rich in stable bioactive phytochemicals, which exhibit various medicinal and pharmacological properties. Aside being used traditionally for boosting fertility in both men and women, alligator pepper is also used for gastrointestinal diseases.
Alligator pepper for prostate cancer
Alligator pepper has been proved to be a strong antiprostate cancer agent. It is highly fortified with potential bioactive phytochemicals inhibit the proliferation, and metastasis of prostate cancer cells. Some of these compounds include Caryophyllene, Humulene, Cyclopentadecanone, and flavonoids and phenolic compounds.
These compounds acts as androgen antagonists by binding with higher affinity on the androgen receptors, thereby inhibiting androgen and testosterone induced prostate carcinoma. ). Since testosterone, DHT, and androgens play important roles in the onset of prostate carcinoma development, the inhibition of the androgenic pathway has been implicated in effective prevention and treatment of prostate carcinoma and other related prostate disorders.
Studies also show that the binding affinity of the compounds in Aframomum Melegueta possess higher binding affinity than flutamide, a nonsteroidal antiandrogen drug primarily applied to treat prostate cancer.
The compounds demonstrated inhibitory activity against the protein/enzyme targets implicated in cancer therapy such as the human androgen receptor, cox-2, and CYP17A1, indicating multimechanistic pharmacology worthy of further evaluation.
If you’re treating prostate cancer, it is advisable you shun the consumption of blue oyster mushroom as well as king oyster mushroom. This is because high folate content has been implicated in prostate cancer formation, and these mushrooms are well fortified with folate, making them unfit as a diet for a prostate cancer patient.
Aframomum melegueta improves diabetes
Alligator pepper fruits possess bioactive compounds that are beneficial for improving type two diabetes. These compounds, 6-gingerol and oleanolic acid act on diabetes by inhibiting α-amylase and α-glucosidase activities. The plant fruits also possess other compounds that improve insulin secretion, which in turn increases glucose transport and clearance. It may also improve insulin sensitivity. Thus, studies support the traditional use of alligator pepper for treating diabetes mellitus.
Alligator pepper may treat coronavirus infection
Alligator pepper continues to amaze people. One other exciting benefits of alligator pepper is the anticovid-19 activity. The active compound, 6-gingerol and techtochrysin present in seeds of alligator have shown strong antiviral activity, supporting the wide speculation that alligator pepper may inhibit covid-19 viral growth. This activity of the two compound, in combination with other bioactive compounds exhibited additive antiviral activity, making alligator pepper an important home remedy for the virus.
Aside covid-19 virus, alligator pepper also exhibited strong activity against respiratory tract infections such as common flu. This supports the use of alligator pepper to treat cold and carter.
Aframomum melegueta protects the liver
As a source of strong antioxidants, alligator pepper protects the liver from toxic effects of lipid peroxidation and nitric oxides. A study conducted on the effect of alligator on cadmium induced oxidative stress showed that the plant extract is a potent inhibitor of reactive oxygen species and free radical generation.
The ability to protect the liver can also been seen in the restoration of the antioxidant defense system, including increasing the levels of superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, glutathione-s-transferase as well as glutathione, which usually protect the cell against oxidative damage.
Usually among the locals, most men chew and swallow some seeds of grain of paradise before or during heavy alcohol intake. This seeds usually increase the rate of alcohol metabolism and clearance from the body. This mechanism is not clear; however, it may be part of the inhibitory effects of grain of paradise on ethanol-induced hepatic toxicity. This ethanol clearance is one of the benefits of alligator pepper as an antioxidative agent.
Grain of paradise improves gastrointestinal discomfort
Alligator pepper is good for treating or managing gastritis, constipation, and peptic/gastric ulcer. Grain of paradise is also beneficial for treating or preventing diarrhea.
The plant seed possess the ability to inhibit gastric secretion and to protect gastroduodenal mucosa against the injuries caused by pyloric ligation, hypothermic restraint stress, indomethacin, cyst amine and cytodestructing agents. You may as well consider cabbage juice and wild celery for a more effective Ulcer treatment herbs.
May lower your blood cholesterol
Studies have found that the seeds of alligator pepper are strong hypolipidemic agents. Even although this has been used in folkloric medicines to treat high cholesterol, there are little studies in this regard. This hypocholesterolemic property of alligator pepper makes it a good remedy for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus. This also supports the antidiabetic activity of the seeds. According a study, the hypolipidemic activity of alligator pepper may be due to the amino acids present in the seeds.
Grain of paradise improves hypertension
Aside lowering the lipid profile and blood sugars, which are risk factors of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, the seed of grain of paradise can also prevent the onset of high blood pressure.
When there is a high cholesterol in the blood, the majority of low density lipoprotein present in the lipid profile are deposited on the walls of the blood vessel. This accumulate over time and block the free flow of blood through the blood capillaries, thereby increasing the blood pressure, and when oxidized, may lead to atherosclerosis. Luckily, alligator pepper have shown that it can protect you from these ugly health condition. The strong antioxidants in the seed also prevent the lipid peroxidation fatty liver.
Aside lowering cholesterol levels, the seeds also inhibit the angiotensin-1 converting enzyme, and through vasodilation of blood vessels via the nitric oxide-cGMP pathway.
Alligator pepper improves male fertility
In a study conducted to assess the effect of alligator pepper extract on the reproductive complications of propylthiouracil (PTU)-induced hypothyroidism in male rats, the extract successfully reverses PTU-induced infertility.
In another study, grain of paradise exhibited significant increase in testosterone in serum and testis, cholesterol in testis, α-glucosidase in epididymis, and fructose in seminal vesicle after 8 days of treatment in alligator treated rats. There were also increased secretions of epididymis and seminal vesicle, which are accessory sex organs. Also, the seed extract has potential to stimulate sexual behavior by increasing penile erection index and frequency of intromission and ejaculation.
This studies proved that alligator pepper is beneficial for the treatment of infertility in men and may also enhance the fertility ratio of fertile men. Alligator pepper powder may be mixed with snot apple seed powder and infused in a bottler of honey for a synergistic fertility improvement and stronger erection in men.
Alligator pepper as a natural contraceptive
Several studies have supported the use of alligator pepper as a natural contraceptive. The seeds have shown to exhibit antipregnancy activity, which may be exploited by couples who would want to space out their ages of their children. Since the seeds do not have any toxic side effects, unlike some orthodox contraceptives, alligator pepper may be the best home remedy for child spacing.
Should pregnant women eat alligator pepper?
Alligator pepper seeds possess abortifacient compounds which induces abortion in pregnant women. This seeds have also shown that their effects is specie dependent. In some species, a small dose can induce abortion whereas in another, a considerable amount may be required.
However, it is not advisable to abort your pregnancy except when your life is in a threatening situation. It is however advisable to consult your doctor before using alligator pepper as an abortifacient.
Alligator pepper suppresses high prolactin production
Whereas prolactin is involved in breast development and breast milk secretion, a high prolactin level is implicated in hormonal imbalance and excessive breast milk production in non-breast-feeding women.
High prolactin level can result in irregular menstruations, hot flashes and vaginal dryness, which are symptoms of menopause, and may generally cause infertility in women. Luckily, the extracts of alligator pepper have shown strong antiprolactin, anti-estradiol and suppress breast milk production in non breast-feeding women.
This shows that alligator pepper may also be beneficial for treating hormonal imbalance in women.
Alligator pepper possess antimicrobial property
The seeds of grain of paradise have been used in traditional medicines for treating infectious diseases. Aside its antiviral property, alligator pepper also exhibit strong activity against bacterial and fungal infections. This makes alligator pepper an all round home remedy for various ailments.
Alligator pepper and ginger tea
Alligator pepper and ginger tea are taking in the morning as a detox drink. it is also best taken in the morning for its aforementioned health benefits. it can boost your immune system, lower your body weight and improve blood circulations.
How do you prepare alligator pepper tea
Alligator pepper and ginger tea is an easy tea recipe. To prepare the tea, follow the instructions below.
- 1 spoon of ginger powder
- 1/2 spoon of alligator pepper powder
- 1 cup of water
- Boil the cup of water
- Add the ginger and alligator pepper and stir
- Allow to steam for 5 minutes
- Add honey and drink warm.
Alligator pepper infused honey
You can as well infused your alligator pepper in a bottle of honey. To do so, add one spoon of alligator seed powder, and a half spoon of hotleaf (Piper guineense) seed powder in a bottle of honey, allow to sit for about a week. then leak a spoon of the infused honey each morning or night after dinner for an improved sexual performance, strong erection and fertility booster.
Alligator pepper, also commonly called the grain of paradise is an important herbal remedy for varying health issues. However, it should not be added to food preparations that could be served to pregnant women, nursing mothers, or a woman expecting conception.
The seed can be eaten raw, crushed and infused in honey, alcoholic drinks. Alternatively, you can add it in a hot clean water and drink after some minutes as a herbal tea. There are indeed so many health benefits of alligator pepper.
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Biobaku KT, Azeez OM, Amid SA, Asogwa TN, Abdullahi AA, Raji OL, JA Abdulhamidc, et al. Thirty days oral Aframomum melegueta extract elicited analgesic effect but influenced cytochrome p4501BI, cardiac troponin T, testicular alfa-fetoprotein and other biomarkers in rats. J Ethnopharmacol, 2020; 113493.
Rafatullah, Syed & Galal, Ahmed & Al-Yahya, M. & Al-Said, M.. (2008). Gastric and Duodenal Antiulcer and Cytoprotective Effects of Aframomum melegueta in Rats. International Journal of Pharmacognosy. 33. 311-316.
Ibekwe H. (2019). Effect of methanolic crude extract of Aframomum melegueta (A.m) seeds on selected lactogenic hormones of Albino rats. International journal of biochemistry and molecular biology, 10(2), 9–16.