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About Alligator Pepper
Aframomum melegueta (Alligator pepper, Grains of paradise), a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), has been used for years for its medicinal benefits.
It is a North African spice and is used in Africa not only in food preparation but also in cultural practices, as medicine and as an accompaniment to kola nut.
The stem is short and marked with scars of fallen leaves. The leaves are lanceolate and about 30 cm long and 12 cm wide, with close nerves below.
The flowers are handsome, aromatic and with orange-coloured lip and a rich pinkish-orange upper part. The fruits are fleshy and indehiscent, and contain numerous small golden- or red-brown seeds.
When babies are born in Yoruba culture, they are normally given a small taste of alligator pepper shortly after birth as part of the routine baby-welcoming process, and it is also used as an ingredient at traditional meet-and-greets.
The alligator pepper plant has both medicinal and nutritive values and the extracts of its seeds has been used as an antidote to dysentery and diarrhoea.
Health Benefits of Alligator pepper
Alligator pepper seeds are an excellent source of phytonutrients such as terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, cardiac glycosides, saponin and phenolic compound. They scavenge for free radicals and offer protections against viruses, allergens, microbes, platelet aggregation, tumors, ulcers and hepatotoxins (chemical liver damage) in the body.
2) Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders
The seeds extracts of the alligator pepper can be used for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach pain, diarrhea, ulcer and intestinal worms.
The seeds can be crushed and used for preparing concoctions for treating and healing wounds. Alligator pepper contains a high amount of tannin that is distinguished by its stringent property and as such it is very effective for healing wounds, treating burns and soothing inflamed mucous membrane.
The seed extract has antimicrobial properties due to its constituents of phenolic compounds that are normally used as disinfectants. Studies reveal that alligator pepper extract is broad spectrum and as such has inhibitory effect on the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia etc.
5)Aphrodisiac Properties:Studies reveal that the alligator pepper is aphrodisiac in nature thus can be used for stimulating sexual desires.
6) Anti-inflammatory Properties:The seed has anti-inflammatory properties due to its constituent of gingerol that inhibits the leukotriene and prostaglandins synthesis. It offers protection against inflammation of the body.
7)Analgesic Properties:The aqueous extract of the plant is analgesic in nature and as such can be used for relieving and alleviating pains such as joint pain, toothache, stomach pain, arthritic pain and rheumatoid pain.
8)Dermatological Care:Alligator pepper can be used for preparing herbal remedy for treating infectious skin diseases such as measles, chickenpox and smallpox.
9)Stimulating Properties:Due to its stimulating properties and peppery pungent taste, the alligator pepper is normally chewed as a stimulant to keep the body alert.
10)Malaria Treatment:The leaves are used for preparing herbal medicines for preventing and treating malaria.
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