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African black-pepper: More than a spice!

The African black pepper has multiple benefits. Due to its beautiful aroma, It is used as a flavouring and spice in food but also has several medicinal,  pesticidal and cosmetic benefits. As a spice, the seeds may be used fresh or dried and added in stews, vegetables, sauces, soups and drinks. In many parts of Nigeria, African black pepper is cooked in pepper soup and fed to mothers as a stimulant to relieve pains and enhance uterine expulsion of placenta and other remains from the womb immediately after child birth. In those days, certain parts of Eastern Nigeria, it is popularly used it in making “ofe-n’gwere” (emergency soup). Once you have your red pepper, ogiri (Ricinuscommunis) and water, just boil and spice up with the African black pepper and your soup is ready! This was usually served with ‘fu- fu’ or pounded yam and really energising.
Men would usually request this soup in the night to get charged or induce sexual desire. Thus, inclusion of African black pepper in the diet may help deliver you from poor erection and low libido. Let this unique spice feature in your drinks, like zobo,  kunu, tiger nuts and you will be amazed with the results. It is also very palatable when added to fresh fish garnished with onions, pepper, ‘utazi’ (Gongronemalatifolium) and served with agidi, ekò.
Apart from its culinary values, African black pepper is also highly medicinal and so should be seen as more than just a spice. Documentation and research carried out on the specie indicate a wide range of phytochemical compounds, including essential oils, alkaloids, lignans, flavonoids, polyphenols, saponins, tannins, terpenes and resins. African black pepper also contains calcium, vitamins A, C, and E and traces of vitamin B1, B2, and B3.
The active properties of African black pepper have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-oxidant, anti microbial, anti fungal, analgesic, antitumor, digestive and aphrodisiac functions.
The presence of Vitamin E points to the antioxidant and free radical scavenging potentials of the plant. Its Vitamin C content indicates that the specie supports the formation of healthy gum, teeth, and for the healing process. Also, it’s calcium content, should make this wonderful spice a regular addition to your meals for building healthy bones and teeth.
The antimicrobial and anti fungal activities of black pepper have been investigated and validated by researchers. The essential oils – dillapiol, piperine, elemicine, myristicine  and safrole have been recorded to contain  bactericidal and antimicrobial activity on some microorganism. No wonder, nowadays you find it listed in many anti bacterial skin products. The oil distillate from the seeds is utilised in perfumery and for making soap. Dried fruits have been powdered and also combined in soap bases for their anti-microbial properties.
The spicy seeds are chewed and rubbed on the forehead to stop headaches. The oil is also used as a local massage to reduce muscular and rheumatic pains of the joints. It is also used locally in treating body aches as well as an anti-asthmatic agent.
The fruits are incorporated in remedy for sexually transmitted diseases, especially gonorrhea and syphilis.
Black pepper is also a wonderful cardiovascular spice (thanks to its cardiac glycosides) especially when added to turmeric. I usually combine the two spices in the ratio of 9:1 (turmeric: black pepper). Use 1 teaspoon in hot water 2 X daily for the management of cardiovascular diseases.
The leaves are used to regulate menstrual cycle and as an ingredient in remedies for female infertility. Tea made from the leaves is also said to help in weight control.
It may surprise you to know that the chemical composition of this wonderful spice have been reported to support antimalarial activity.
The crude fiber of African black pepper helps in the maintenance of internal distension for a normal peristaltic movement of the intestinal tract and also aids in removing cholesterol from the body. Ground to a powder, they may be taken as a stimulant or stomachic to relieve constipation. Freshly prepared decoction with pure honey has been used to relieve nausea, gastritis and indigestion problems.
They are also used as an aromatic stimulating addition to snuff.
Other uses include the treatment of coughs and rashes.  It is also used to relieve toothache, chest pains.
This age cooking spice is packed with lots of effective antioxidant. To keep fit and boost your body’s metabolism, try sprinkling a little portion of the powdered seeds to your smoothies. African black pepper is indeed a spice rich in many other food nutrients and so it can pleasurably be added to dishes without fear of toxicity.
Make it your friendly kitchen spice and also add some to your teas today.


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June 2018
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