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Why alligator pepper is good for diabetes
It is a common ingredient in pepper soup, a spicy delight in most parts of West Africa. But since antiquity, alligator pepper has been used in traditional medicine for the treatment of many diseases.
The alligator pepper plant has both medicinal and nutritive values and the extracts of its seeds has been used as an antidote to dysentery and diarrhoea. What is more, it is an effective herb for the treatment of snake bite. But alligator pepper, which is called names such as grains of paradise, Atare (in Yoruba), chitta (Hausa), or Guinea pepper, is one seed individuals with diabetes might find very good in ensuring the regulation of their blood sugar, thus protecting them from complications of the disease such as blindness and limb amputation.
Surprised that alligator pepper has multipurpose? 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.
Researchers in ascertaining the blood-sugar lowering effect of alligator pepper had 25 albino rats that were randomly divided into five groups of five rats each. Two control groups: non-diabetic (positive) and diabetic (negative) were administered tap water as vehicle solvent, throughout the duration of the experiment. The remaining three groups received 100 mg/kg of metformin, 200 and 400 mg/kg orally and aqueous(water) seed extract of alligator pepper respectively and simultaneously.
The researchers, who evaluated the fasting blood glucose in these rats daily, found that oral administration of aqueous extract of alligator pepper to diabetic rats lowered blood glucose to normal level within six days of administration, while metformin took 14 days. There was no significant difference in the duration of lowering the blood glucose by the two doses of extract administered, meaning that the effect was not dose dependent.
The December 2010 study was published in the Sierra Leone Journal of Biomedical Research and entitled “Evaluation of Hypoglycaemic Efficacy of Aqueous Seed Extract of Aframomum melegueta in Alloxan-induced Diabetic Rats. It was carried out by Adesokan Ayoade A, Akanji Musbau A and Adewara Gabriel S, all from the Department of Biochemistry, University of Ilorin.
They wrote: “This study, scientifically confirmed the locally acclaimed glucose lowering effect of aqueous seed extract of Aframomum melegueta by traditional medicine practitioners. The extract possesses a more potent hypoglycaemic property than metformin. It took 14 days to attain normoglycaemia in the group that received metformin and only six days in the two groups that received extract of A. melegueta.”
The researchers, who stating that the fact that insulin is completely absent in alloxan-induced diabetes perhaps explain the reason the extract of A. melegueta was more efficient than metformin, declared that they were going to carry out further work to ascertain the precise mechanism of the action of the plant in reducing blood sugar level.
According to them, “it would also be worthwhile to isolate the acclaimed active ingredients responsible for the pharmacologic activity in subsequent research.”
Meanwhile, for diabetes that patronises alligator pepper, they would also be protected against common infectious diseases. The extracts of its seeds has been used for years in the treatment of infectious diseases as well as in the treating wounds and prevention of infections.
In a study, researchers also tried to ascertain the potency of its extract in the prevention of many common disease-causing germs which include Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus, Escherictaia coli, Salmonella typhi and klebsiella pneumonia. These includes germs that causes food poisoning, pneumonia, blood infections and other deadly diseases
The study was carried out by Doherty, V. Funmilayo in collaboration with Olaniran, O.Oluwakemi both form the Yaba College of Technology, Lagos was entitled “Antimicrobial Activities of Aframomum Melegueta (Alligator Pepper)”and published in the July, 2010 issue of the International Journal of Biology.
The study found that the seed extract of alligator pepper inhibited the growth of all the bacteria tested, suggested that the plant extract has broad spectrum in activity (acts against a wide range of disease-causing bacteria). Higher antimicrobial activity of the extracts was observed on E.coli, Klebsiella spp and Salmonella spp at high concentration.
That alligator pepper was able to halt multiplication of the virus in the laboratory is of great implication as it portends the possibility of giving the human body a chance to fight off disease-causing germs.
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. Studies carried out on laboratory rats support the idea that they increase the libido (in rats) and that they can reduce pain and inflammation so may be good to treat arthritis. However, they are yet to be tested on humans.
An ethnobotanical survey on plants used as male contraceptive used in the South-western part of Nigeria named alligator pepper as an herbal male contraceptives. The inventory was published in the African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.
Meanwhile, many medicinal plants have been confirmed to have blood-sugar lowering (hypoglycaemic) properties. Some of them include garlic, neem, unripe pawpaw fruit, ginger lily, Trigonella foerum (Fenugreek), Ocimum santum (Basil), and Aloe vera.
Ginger lily (bush-cane), is called kakii-zuwaa in Hausa, mbiritem in Ibibio, okpoto in Ibo, andura and atare tete-egun in Yoruba. Researchers at the University of Reading, United Kingdom and Kogi State University, Anyigba validated the use of Costus afer as a hypoglycaemic (reduces blood glucose/sugar) plant in native medicine.
According to the study published in British Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, the plant extract did not reduce blood glucose in fed rats, but significantly reduced blood glucose when administered in combination with a conventional anti-diabetes drug, glibenclamide.
In the study entitled “Evaluation of the Phytochemical Composition and Hypoglycaemic Activity of Methanolic Leaves Extract of Costus afer in Albino Rats”, they “Oral administration of the methanolic leaf extract of Costus afer showed a dose dependent hypoglycemic effect as revealed.”Share