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  Subject Portals: Phytomedicine
   
Aframomum melegueta
Zingiberaceae

Common names
Grains of Paradise, Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains or Guinea pepper
 
Family
Zingiberaceae
 
Description
Aframomum melegueta is a species in the ginger family, Zingiberaceae.West African spice commonly known as Grains of paradise, Melegueta pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea grains or Guinea pepper is obtained from this plant; it gives a pungent, peppery flavor. It is a herbaceous perennial plant native to swampy habitats along the West African coast. It is a tropical perennial with tufted leafy stems to 1½ m high. Its trumpet-shaped, purple flowers develop into 5 to 7 cm long pods containing numerous small, seeds. These are almost oval in shape, hard, shiny, and have a reddish-brown in color. It has lanceolate leaves up to 30cm long. The fruits are fleshy and indehiscent, and contains numerous small golden- or red-brown seeds
 
Parts Used
Seeds, rhizomes, fruits
 
Medicinal Uses
The medicinal uses of Aframomum include aphrodisiac, measles, and leprosy, taken for excessive lactation and post partem hemorrhage, purgative, galactogogue and anthelmintic, and hemostatic agent. The constituents are essential oils—such as gingerol, shagaol, paradol. Studies show antimicrobial and antifungal activity and effective against schistosomes/schistosomiasis (bilharzia).

As a purgative, galactogogue (to increase production of breast milk), anthelmintic- and hemostatic agent (purifies the blood). Further is it used against intestinal infections, infestations, to calm indigestion and heartburn. The seeds of Aframomum melegueta possess potent anti-inflammatory activity with a favorable gastric tolerability profile. In West African folk medicine grains of paradise are valued for their warming and digestive properties.

Stimulant, carminative and diuretic, the seeds are mainly used in some veterinary medicines. They appear in old pharmacopoeias. The seeds and rhizomes are used in West African herbal medicines.

 
Preparation and Dosage
 
Active Ingredients
Phytochemical analysis revealed the presence of alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, sterols, triterpenes, and oils, while the methanol fraction contains alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, flavonoids, sterols, and resins.

The seeds have a pungent, peppery taste due to aromatic ketones, e.g., (6)-paradol (systematic name: 1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-decan-3-one). Essential oils, which are the dominating flavor components in the closely related cardamon, occur only in traces.

The essential oil from grains of paradise consists of two sesquiterpenes, humelene and caryophyllene and the oxides of these.

 
Pharmacological Effects
 
Distribution
Native to swampy habitats along the West African coast. Today it is largely unknown outside of West and North Africa.
 
Bibliography
1. http://www.tropilab.com/nengrekondrepepre.html (25 February 2009-02-25)
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aframomum_melegueta (03 Junie 2009)
3. http://www.aluka.org/action/showMetadata?doi=10.5555/AL.AP.UPWTA.5_586&pgs=&cookieSet=1 (09 September 2009)
 

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