Alligator Pepper (Aframomum melegueta) – Facts, Health Benefits and Uses

Alligator pepper is a well-known herbaceous perennial plant, also known botanically as Aframomum melegueta. It is a very popular plant and it is also a very powerful medicinal plant. 

However, in this article, we’ll be discussing and pinpointing a few health benefits and facts associated with this herbaceous perennial plant.

You should also know that the alligator pepper is originally originated from West Africa, some of the countries where this plant is grown are Nigeria, Liberia, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Gambia, and a host of others.

However, this magnificent plant is said to belong to Zingiberaceae or better still the ginger family. 

One interesting fact about the alligator pepper is it thrives mainly in swampy areas and it is also very versatile.

Although, most people don’t know about this plant, and if by chance you fall in that category, then you are missing out on the amazing gift that nature has given to mankind, the alligator pepper.

Before highlighting some of the amazing and interesting benefits of this medicinal plant, let us just quickly point out that we should count ourselves lucky for having numerous essential plants in our ecosystem.

There are many herbal products out there from these medicinal plants. Alligator pepper is one such medicinal plant that has become of great importance in our lives.

You should also know that the alligator pepper seeds are somewhat similar to the grains paradise. 

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Although, the seeds of alligator pepper are sold enclosed with the pods while the grains of paradise are sold as single seeds.

Alligator pepper is also known by many other names, hepper pepper, mbongo spice, Afrika kakulesi, melegueta pepper, ginny pepper, Guinea pepper, or atare. 

The alligator pepper tree is said to grow to about a meter tall with lanceolate narrow leaves which have a comparable appearance with the bamboo leaves.

The skin of the fruit has a close similarity with the back of an alligator and this suggests the origin of its name. The fruit contains many small brownish seeds with sharp peppery, bitter, pungent, and aromatic flavor.

The fruit encloses the seeds, which are sealed with inner thin papery whitish skin. 

Its strong pungent, peppery taste is a result of its aromatic ketones and high tannin content.

Aframomum melegueta commonly known as alligator pepper is a very versatile and valuable spice as a result of its nutritive value and medicinal properties. 

For example, the alligator pepper seeds contain rare phytochemicals.

These phytochemicals are mainly used for treating several diseases.

You might be thinking by now if the alligator pepper is mainly used for medicinal purposes. 

However, it is usually snacked upon and used for culinary purposes.

Below are very interesting facts and health benefits that you can benefit from by just adding the alligator pepper to your diet.

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Alligator Pepper Benefits (Aframomum melegueta)

Alligator Pepper (Aframomum melegueta) – Facts, Health Benefits and Uses
Alligator Pepper (Aframomum melegueta)

Below are the alligator pepper health benefits;

(1) Used Consumption Purposes

As mentioned earlier, the alligator pepper is usually snacked upon and used for culinary purposes. Many people use it these days.

Bringing you down to Africa, the alligator pepper, is sometimes used in traditional meetings and ceremonies such as marriages, burial ceremonies, town meetings, etc. 

Alligator pepper is usually also served with kola nuts and peanut butter as part of the customary rites.

Alligator pepper, is very versatile as both the leaves and seeds can be used for preparing dishes such as pepper soup, stews, chicken, and also used in garnishing salads, etc. 

This pepper also has a hot peppery and pungent flavor that augments dishes and makes them spicy.

Black pepper, Piper guineense, or black cardamom can all be used as substitutes for alligator pepper while cooking in some situations.

 Although this is dependent on the taste you are desiring to achieve. The seeds are usually ground before adding to dishes as they tend to be a little bit hard.

You should also know that most beer industries make use of this pepper to add flavors and strengthen alcoholic beverages such as gin, beer, etc.

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(2) Anti-oxidizing Properties

Aframomum melegueta(Alligator pepper) seeds are a great source of phytonutrients such as terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, tannins, cardiac glycosides, saponin, and phenolic compounds. 

Now, these compounds are very powerful as they all possess an anti-oxidizing property.

These anti-oxidizing possessing compounds tend to alleviate free radicals in your body thereby enhancing or strengthening your immune system to fight against diseases, viruses, microbes, platelet aggregation, tumors, ulcers, and hepatotoxins (chemical liver damage) in the body.

(3) Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders

The phytochemical extracts of this pepper can also be used in treating gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea, ulcer, stomach pain, and intestinal worms. 

You should try out this pepper if you are suffering from any of the above-mentioned disorders as it may help cure or mitigate them.

(4) Wound Healing

The seeds of the alligator pepper, when crushed can be used for many things. 

It can be used in preparing concoctions that can be used in treating wounds. This pepper contains high levels of tannin. 

This chemical is very effective when it comes to healing and treating wounds such as treating burns and soothing inflamed mucous membrane.

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(5) Possess Antimicrobial Properties

Recent studies have revealed that the extracts of the alligator pepper seeds possess antimicrobial properties due to their constituents of phenolic compounds. 

These constituents are used as disinfectants.

(6) Aphrodisiac Properties

Studies have proven alligator pepper to be an excellent choice for simulating sexual desires due to its aphrodisiac nature.

(7) Anti-inflammatory Properties

The extracts of this pepper also possess anti-inflammatory properties. 

This is possible due to the presence of gingerol that inhibits the leukotriene and prostaglandins synthesis. 

It also protects the body against inflammation.

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(8) Analgesic Properties

Another extract known as aqueous of the plant is analgesic in nature and as such can be used for relieving and stopping pains such as joint pain, toothache, stomach pain, arthritic pain, and rheumatoid pain.

(9) Dermatological Care

It can also be used in preparing an 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

Lastly, the leaves of the alligator pepper are used for preparing herbal medicines for preventing and treating malaria.

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Benadine Nonye

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