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12 BENEFITS OF ALLIGATOR PEPPER

ALLIGATOR PEPPER

Botanically known as Aframomum melegueta. It is also known as hepper pepper, mbongo spice, Afrika kakulesi, melegueta pepper, ginny pepper, Guinea pepper, “Atare” for the yorubas and “Ntuen Ibok” for the ibibios. ). It is a West African spice made from the seeds and seed pods of Aframomum danielliA. citratum or A. exscapum. It is a close relative of grains of paradise, obtained from the closely related species, Aframomum melegueta. Unlike grains of paradise, which are generally sold as only the seeds of the plant, alligator pepper is sold as the entire pod containing the seeds (in the same manner to another close relative, black cardamom).
The fruit contains many small brownish seed with a sharp peppery, bitter, pungent and aromatic flavour.

As mbongo spice, the seeds of alligator pepper are often sold as the grains isolated from the pod and with the outer skin removed. Mbongo spice is most commonly either A. danielli or A. citratum, and has a more floral aroma than A. exscapum (which is the commonest source of the entire pod).

It is a common ingredient in West African cuisine, where it imparts both pungency and a spicy aroma to soups and stews.

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BENEFITS OF ALLIGATOR PEPPER

1. Consumption Purposes

Alligator pepper is a popular spice that is normally snacked upon especially by elders and sometimes youths. In traditional meetings and events such as baby naming ceremonies, traditional marriages, burial ceremonies, town meetings etc, the alligator pepper is usually served together with kola nuts and peanut butter (ósè ọ́jị́) as part of the customary rites.
Both the seeds and leaves can also be used for garnishing salads and for preparing assorted dishes such as pepper soup, stews, chicken and lamb dishes etc. It’s hot peppery and pungent flavour augments dishes and makes them spicy. While cooking, alligator pepper can be substituted with black pepper, piper guineense or black cardamom. The seeds are usually ground before adding to dishes as they tend to be a little bit hard.
Furthermore, the beer industry normally uses the alligator pepper for strengthening and flavouring alcoholic beverages such as gin, beer, wine and ale.

2. Anti-oxidizing Properties

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. This suggests why it is commonly used in folk medicine for preventing and tackling intestinal problems.

3. 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.

4. Wound Healing

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.

5. Antimicrobial Properties

The seed extract has antimicrobial properties due to its constituents of phenolic compounds that are normally used as disinfectants. Studies reveal that Aframomum melegueta 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.

6. Aphrodisiac Properties

Studies reveal that the alligator pepper is
aphrodisiac in nature thus can be used for stimulating sexual desires.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Dermatological Care

Alligator pepper can be used for preparing herbal remedy for treating infectious skin diseases such as measles, chickenpox and smallpox.

10. 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.

11. Malaria Treatment

The leaves are used for preparing herbal
medicines for preventing and treating malaria.
12. Digestive Properties
The seeds aid easy digestion of food thereby preventing constipation and bloating.
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