Plants have remained an integral source of food and nutrients for both humans and animals. We simply cannot survive without them! Interestingly, they are so close to us for our usage but unfortunately, we sometimes fail to acknowledge and utilise these plants properly as we ought to do. These plants contain several chemical compounds essential for the metabolic functioning of our body systems. Some of these plants provide us food, nutritional values and health benefits while some provide us with no nutrients and could even be toxic to human health.
As a result, identifying these beneficial plants are highly imperative as a guide for gaining all the benefits they offer. One of these essential beneficial plant is the pepper fruit however, many people are unaware of the wondrous things they stand to gain from this fruit. Pepper fruit, which is botanically known as Dennettia tripetala G. Baker, belongs to the Annonaceae family. It is a tropical plant that is mostly dominant in the West African region especially Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Cameroon.
Dennettia tripetala (pepper fruit) is well known as mmimmi by the igbo people of Nigeria, Ata Igebere or igberi by the Yorubas, Imako by the Niger Deltas and Urhobo, ako by Bini, Nkarika by the Efik and Ibibio. It is a pungent, pepperish, spicy medicinal plant that is characterised by greenish appearance when unripe but tends to be reddish or pinkish in colour when ripe. Pepper fruit tree thrives mainly in the Savannah and rainforest zones while the fruit usually ripens between April and May. Edible mature pepper fruit is mostly chewed raw but can also be used for food preparations and for preparing herbal medicines. Both the fruits, leaves, roots and barks of the Dennettia tripetala plant are distinguished by their strong pungent, spicy and pepperish taste, fragrance and aroma (Achinewhu et al, 1995).
Pepper fruit has three green broad sepals and fleshy petals that are yellow in colour. The leaves are oblong in shape, alternates on each other and taper at the apex. The leaves can be dried and stored for a long period of time without any microbial attack. According to Okwu and Morah (2004), Dennettia tripetala fruits can serve as food and herbs for producing herbal medicines. Both the fruits, leaves and roots of the pepper fruit are useful for medicinal purposes Iwu (1989). Moreover, Egharevba et.al. (2015) also support that this fruit is effective for ethnomedical (traditional medical) purposes. Pepper fruit contains both volatile and essential oils. The taste, aroma and pungency of this fruit are as a result of its constituent of volatile and essential (oleoresins) oils. Pepper fruit is normally chewed as a fruity snack due to its peppery stimulating effects. It is normally served together with palm wine, garden eggs, bitter kola and kola nuts during festivals, cultural ceremonies, coronations, traditional marriages, naming ceremonies, new yam festivals and special events in the eastern part of Nigeria. Keay (1989) attests that pepper fruit produces very pepperish effect when chewed. This peppery taste tends to stimulate people when they chew it.
18 Wondrous Benefits of Pepper Fruit Dennettia tripetala
1. Nutritional Benefits
Okwu and Morah (2004) study shows that Dennettia tripetala contains 0.42% magnesium, 1.80% calcium, 2.50% potassium, 9.84% crude fibres, 15.31% crude protein, 8.0% moisture, 62% carbohydrate, 3.47% crude lipids, 0.33% phosphorus, trace elements such as cadmium, iron, zinc and copper.
Pepper fruit also contains water-soluble vitamins such as niacin, ascorbic acid, riboflavin and thiamine. Ihemeje et al., (2013) study shows that unripe pepper fruit contains higher amount of vitamin C, vitamin A and minerals more than the ripe ones. Thus it is highly recommended that people should consume Dennettia tripetala due to its high nutritional values.
Nwaogu et al. (2007) studied the phytochemical content of the pepper fruit and their results showed the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, saponins, tannins and flavonoids in this fruit. Both the fruit and the leaves were found to contain secondary metabolites such as phenol, carbohydrate, terpenes, flavonoids, tannin and alkaloids.
2. Edible Purposes
Dennettia tripetala fruit can be used as a pepperish spice for seasoning and flavouring food such as white soup, spicy fish, hot drinks, alcoholic drinks, beverages, meat, vegetables, stew, sauces and sausages. Ihemeje et al., (2013) studied the possibility of using the pepper fruit as a substitute for ginger in zobo drink production. Their findings showed that pepper fruit is a good substitute for ginger in zobo drink production.
3. Post-partum Care
Achinewhu et al., (1995) reveal that pepper fruit seeds are essential for preparing food for newborn mothers immediately after childbirth as the spice aids uterus contraction. Pepper fruit can be used together with scotch bonnet peppers, piper guineese, utazi for hot soup preparations for new mothers.
4. Bactericidal Purposes
Ogbonna et al., (2013) study shows that Dennettia tripetala seed extract are useful for both bactericidal and bacteriostatic purposes. As a result, the seed extract can be used for preventing and inhibiting the growth of bacteria and microorganism.
5. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Diseases
The leaves, fruits and roots of the pepper fruit can be used for producing herbal medicines for treating gastrointestinal diseases such as stomach upset, diarrhoea, vomiting and worm infestation.
6. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Oyemitan et al., (2008) report that the essential oil from pepper fruit contains anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. As a result, the essential oil can be used for reducing body inflammation and pain.
7. Antimicrobial Properties
The leaf extract of pepper fruit contains antimicrobial properties and as such effective for fighting against microbes (Aderogba et al., 2011).
8. Anti-ulcer Properties
Anosike et al., (2016) evaluated the anti-ulcer ability of ethanol extract from pepper fruit seed extract. Their findings show that the ethanol extract of pepper fruit seed has potent and dose-dependent anti-ulcer effect against aspirin-induced ulcer. According to these researchers, this anti-ulcer effect of pepper fruit can be attributed to its flavonoid content.
The leaves and fruits of the pepper fruit contain anthelmintic properties and as such can be used in combination with other herbs for destroying parasitic worms.
10. Glaucoma Intraocular Pressure (IOP) Reduction
Timothy and Okere (2008) study reveals that pepper fruit can significantly reduce intraocular pressure (IOP) up to 25% in people suffering from glaucoma.
11. Antinociceptive Effects
Pepper fruit has antinociceptive effects and as such can be used for reducing sensitivity to painful stimuli.
12. Insecticidal Purposes
Akinbuluma et al., (2015) study shows that pepper fruit can be used for producing insecticides. The plant products are effective against pests, insects, Sitophilus zeamais (Motsch.), maize weevil. The insecticidal activities of this plant can be attributed to its pungency and pepperish nature.
13. Treatment of Infantile Convulsion
The leaves and fruits of the pepper fruit can be used for preparing herbal medicines for treating infantile convulsion. Infantile convulsion is a neurological genetic disorder notable for its autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. It is associated with benign familial infantile epilepsy (BIFE) especially between the age of three to twelve months and paroxysmal kinesigenic choreoathetosis later in life.
14. Minimizes Cancer Risk
Pepper fruit is an excellent source of flavonoids, which have been proven effective for reducing the onset of cancer attacks (Graf et al., 2005).
15. Pharmacological Properties
Pepper fruit can be used for pharmacological purposes due to its constituents of terpenes, tannins, flavonoids and alkaloids. Moreover, the antimicrobial, anti-oxidizing, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties of both the fruits and leaves of the pepper fruit are known to exhibit high pharmacological effects.
16. Anti-viral Properties
Pepper fruit is effective for fighting against viruses such as cold, cough and fever. Cold is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract that is characterized by watery eyes, sneezing, sore throat, coughing and nasal congestion,
17. Anti-emetic Properties
Pepper fruit is anti-emetic in nature being that it can be used for preventing or treating nausea and vomiting. Due to its antiemetic nature, pepper fruit can be used for treating motion sickness and for preventing the side effects of anaesthetics, opioid analgesics and cancer chemotherapy.
18. Treatment of Typhoid
The leaves and fruits of the pepper fruit can be used for preparing herbal medicines for treating typhoid.
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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2] Aderogba, M. A., Akinkunmi, E. O. and Mabusela, W. T. (2011), Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of flavonoid and glycosides from Dennettia tripetala G. Baker leaf extract, Nigerian Journal of Natural Product Medicine, 15: pp.49-50.
3] Akinbuluma, M. D., Adepetun, M. T. and Yeye, E. O. (2015), Insecticidal Effects of Ethanol Extracts of Capsicum Frutescens and Dennettia Tripetala against Sitophilus Zeamais Motschulsky on Stored Maize, International Journal of Research in Agriculture and Forestry, Volume 2, Issue 11, pp. 1-6.
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seed against aspirin-induced ulcer in rats, International Journal of Advanced Science and Research, Volume 1; Issue 4, pp. 1-6.
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15] Oyemitan, I. A., Iwalewa, E. O., Akanmu, M. A. and Olugbade, T. A. (2008), Antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of essential oil of Dennettia tripetala G. Baker (Annonaceae) in rodents, African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 5: pp.355-360.
16] Timothy, C. O., Okere, C. O. (2008), Effect of Dennettia tripetela (Mmimi) seed intake on the IOP of normotensive emmetropic Nigerian Igbos. JNOA; 14: pp.14-16.