Alligator pepper is a popular spice made from the seeds and seed pods of Aframomum danielli which is native to the West African region.
Known botanically as Aframomum melegueta, the plants of the alligator pepper is a member of the ginger family Zingiberaceae.
Alligator pepper is also commonly known as hepper pepper, mbongo spice, Afrika kakulesi, melegueta pepper, ginny papper, Guinea pepper or atare in Yorubaland.
The skin of the fruit has a close similarity with the back of an alligator, hence the origin of its name. The fruit contains many small brownish seeds with sharp peppery, bitter, pungent, and aromatic flavor.
Alligator pepper is a highly valuable spice as a result of its high medicinal and nutritive values. Alligator pepper is a good source of various minerals, including calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Apart from medicinal purposes, alligator pepper is a great addition for culinary purposes and is commonly used as a pepper soup ingredient.
In the Yoruba and Igbo culture of Nigeria, alligator pepper is a common part of ceremonies and social events e.g naming ceremonies.
Here are some health benefits of this powerful spice.
1. Rich in antioxidants
Alligator pepper is rich in antioxidants, which come in the form of flavonoids, tannins, and terpenoids, that helps fight free radicals in the body and offer protection against viruses, allergens, microbes, platelet aggregation, tumors, ulcers and hepato-toxins (can cause chemical liver damage) in the body.
2. Shrinks fibroids
Alligator pepper is said to be effective in eliminating fibroids.
Prof. Dayo Oyekole, a Nigerian professor said a special blend of castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), alligator pepper (Aframomum melegueta), coconut (Cocos nucifera), and West African black pepper (Xylopia aethiopica) has been validated by researchers to shrink and eliminate fibroids.
3. Treats wounds
Alligator pepper seeds contain a high amount of tannin that is distinguished by its stringent property and as such it is very effective for healing wounds and treating burns.
4. Lowers blood sugar
Alligator pepper helps people with diabetes ensure the regulation of their blood sugar, thus protecting them from complications of the disease such as blindness and limb amputation.
5. Antimicrobial properties
Studies have shown that alligator pepper seed extract contain microbial properties that can affect the growth of bacteria such as Salmonella, Klebsiella pneumonia and Staphylococcus Aureus due to its constituents of phenolic compounds that are normally used as disinfectants.
6. Boosts libido
In addition to its medicinal properties, it is a strong natural aphrodisiac that stimulates sexual desires and maintains high stamina. An aphrodisiac is a food or drug that arouses sexual instinct and boosts libido. For women, it works on their libido and makes them more sensitive to touch during sexual intercourse as the nerve endings are stimulated more.
7. Treats gastrointestinal and digestive issues
The seed extract of the alligator pepper can be used for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as bloating, indigestion, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, colon polyps, ulcer, and intestinal worms. It also helps improve gut and intestinal health.
8. Remedy for skin diseases
Alligator pepper can be used for preparing herbal remedies for treating infectious skin diseases such as measles, chickenpox and smallpox.
9. Pain reliever
Alligator pepper 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.
10. Malaria Treatment
The leaves of alligator pepper are used for preparing herbal medicines for preventing and treating malaria.