Health Benefits of Alligator Pepper (Atare)

Category: Health & Physical Fitness

Alligator pepper, (Aframomum melegueta), is a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), used for years in medicine and traditional practices.  It is called Grains of paradise (Europeans), Atare (Yoruba), Chitta (Hausa), or Guinea pepper.

When babies are born in Yoruba culture, they are normally given a small taste of alligator pepper (Atare) shortly after birth as part of the routine baby-welcoming process, and it is also used as an ingredient at traditional meet-and-greets.

Alligator pepper is widely used by many ethnic groups in Nigeria for various purposes. It is served along with Kolanuts to guests for entertainment, as communion and used for religious rites by diviners for invoking spirits. It is a common ingredient for preparing pepper soup, a spicy delight in most parts of West Africa.

The extracts of its seeds has been used for years against intestinal infections, infestations, haemorrhoids, to calm indigestion and heart-burn.

It is an effective herb for the treatment of snake bite. The medicinal uses of alligator pepper dates back into ages and recently scientists in a new study corroborate its usefulness in lowering blood sugar under laboratory conditions.

Alligator pepper is reputedly aphrodisiacs, worm expellant, stimulants and diuretics as well as useful in the treatment of measles, leprosy, low breast milk production and excessive bleeding after child birth.

It is used in the Surinam cuisine to flavour dishes such as vegetables (okra and tomatoes recipes), soups (lentil and chicken) and fish recipes.

Also See: 8 Important Reasons You Should Eat Watermelon Daily
In Cameroon, traditional practitioners use medicinal plant materials to treat male factors (erectile impotence, disorders of ejaculation and oligozoospermia) responsible for male infertility, including the seeds of Aframomum melegueta (Alligator Pepper, Atare).

In West African folk medicine, grains of paradise are valued for their warming and digestive properties. A report has it that in Ghana, the seeds of alligator pepper are chewed to cure dysentery, as a sedative against toothache, anti-rheumatism, migraine and to cure fever.

Iwu M. (1993) in the book entitled Handbook of African Medicinal Plants confirmed uses of alligator pepper for the treatment of leprosy, taken for excessive lactation and post partum hemorrhage, galactogogue and as a worm expeller.

According to the Medicinal Plants of Nigeria- South West Nigeria Volume 1 compiled and published by Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), Victoria Island, Lagos, alligator pepper seeds are chewed to improve sperm count in men. Also its leaf juice is used to improve fertility in women and also to regulate menstrual flow.

Some health benefits of Alligator pepper includes:
  • Treatment For Malaria, Fever (the leaves)
  • Treatment For Wounds and prevent infection (the seeds)
  • Improve state of drunkenness (the seeds)
  • Helps For Quick Digestion (the seeds)
  • Treatment of disorders in Male Fertility; like erectile impotence, disorders of ejaculation, and toxic effects on the testes and accessory sex organs.
  • Alligator Pepper, dried roots are chewed and the sap is swallowed for appetite stimulation, stomach pain, and body pain, dysentery, gonorrhea, post-partum bleeding, asthma in children, and to stop vomiting.
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