Exciting Health Benefits of Alligator Pepper
West African alligator pepper is a West African spice that corresponds to the seeds and seed pods of Aframomum Daniell.
It is a species in the ginger family whose seeds and leaves are used for medicinal, culinary, as well as traditional purposes.
You can buy alligator pepper from Shop Naija for R25.
Below are the numerous benefits of alligator pepper.
1. Consumption Purposes
As a popular spice alligator pepper 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 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, and certain meat dishes. Its hot peppery and pungent flavour makes dishes spicy.
However, alligator pepper can be substituted with black pepper, grains of paradise, piper guineense, or black cardamom. You can ground the seeds before adding to dishes.
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 seed 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.
Side Effects of Alligator Pepper
There are no recorded side effects of the alligator pepper, however, pregnant and lactating mothers are encouraged not to consume it.
A study was conducted on the Effect of alligator pepper on first-trimester pregnancy in Sprague Dawley rats in 2009. The study showed that Alligator pepper had an adverse effect on the first-trimester pregnancy of the rats. The study claimed that pregnant women need to avoid eating Alligator pepper, especially in their first trimester.