EHU SEEDS (Monodora myristica)

If I may ask, can you count the number of spices in the whole wide world or better still the ones you are acquainted with? I can count quite a lot of which the ehu seeds (Monodora myristica) are part of them. Monodora myristica is a perennial plant that belongs to the family of Annonaceae and its seeds are an aromatic spice that acts as a local nutmeg substitute.

Monodora myristica, which is popularly known as ehu seeds by the Ibos, is a tropical spice that originated from the West African continent such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Liberia, Cameroon, Angola and Tanzania before being introduced to the Caribbean and other places. Different countries have different names for the ehu seeds such as calabash nutmeg, awerewa, Jamaican nutmeg, ehiri, airama, African nutmeg, ehuru, lubushi, ariwo, Ghana seeds or orchid nutmeg.

The ehu seeds tree can attain a height of 35 m and 2 m in diameter with horizontal branches. The leaves are oblong in shape with a size of approximately 44 x 20 cm. The sepals are crisply red-spotted in appearance and the corolla comprises of six petals with curled margins and yellowish/reddish/ green spots.

Monodora myristica seed has an aromatic taste and odor that is similar to that of nutmeg, which makes it a popular West African spice. On maturation, the monodora myristica fruits are collected from the trees for the seeds to be dried and stored before usage. The aroma and taste tends to be stronger if the ehu seeds are moderately roasted before usage. The leaves of African nutmeg are firstly purplish in colour before changing into greenish colour. The leaves are characteristically veined in nature.

The aromatic fragrance of ehu seeds makes it suitable for using them in spicing assorted food types such as vegetables, confections, sausages, sauces, meats and puddings etc. The brown ehu seeds are encapsulated in aromatic pulp, the leaves can serve as manure when decayed while the tree can be cut and used as firewood or for carpentry works.

Beneficial for Newborn Mothers
Ehu seeds are used for preparing special hot soups with piper Piper guineense ‘Uziza, for newborn mothers for easy control of uterine hemorrhage. It is also believed that adding these two spices in their soups helps the newborn mother’s milk to start flowing normally immediately after childbirth. Basically, the ehu seeds can be ground and used as postpartum tonic.

Essential Oil Constituent
The leaves of the African nutmeg (ehu seeds) contain essential oil that comprises of α-pinene, β-caryophyllene and α-humulene. Moreover, the essential oil of the African nutmeg is made up of fundamental compounds such as pinene, α-phellandrene, limonene, α-pinene and myrcene.

Constipation Relief
Ehu seeds act as a stimulant thus can be ground and used to prepare soup that helps to relieve constipation. Ehu seeds can also be used for treating stomach ache.

Hemorrhoids Treatment
The stem bark of African nutmeg (ehu seeds) can be used for treating hemorrhoids.

Antimicrobial Properties
Researchers reveal that the monodora myristica extracts possess antimicrobial properties against microorganisms.

Headache Cure
Monodora myristica seeds extracts can be used for treating headaches and cold.

Oil Content
The pulp of the ehu seeds contain essential oil such as; dipentene, pinene and camphene. These types of oil can be used industrially for manufacturing perfumes, soaps and washing detergents. The oil can also be used as cooking oil.

Ornamental Benefits
Because of the orchid-like flowers of the African nutmeg, the tree can be used for ornamental purposes. The seeds can also be used for making beads and necklaces.

Treatment of Rheumatism
African nutmeg (ehu seeds) can be used to make an ointment that can be used for treating rheumatism.

Treatment of Arthritis
According to researchers, Monodora myristica can be used for treating arthritis.

Culinary Purposes
Ehu seeds can be ground into powdered form, which is used for spicing and flavouring food such as pepper soup.

Diabetes Treatment
African nutmeg can be used for treating diabetes mellitus.

Anti-sickling Properties
According to researchers, ehu seeds have been proven to possess anti-sickling properties.

Diuretic Properties
Studies also reveal that ehu seeds contain diuretic properties and can also be used for treating mild fever.

Treatment of High Cholesterol level
Researchers reveal that the ehu seeds (M. myristica), contain cholesterol lowering ability thus can be used for treating individuals with high cholesterol level.

Insect Repellent
The ehu leaves and seeds can act as a repellent to insects.

Sore Treatment
The seeds and leaves of African nutmeg (ehu seeds) can be decocted or infused, which is used for treating sores and wounds.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic 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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Burubai, W., Akor, A.J., Igoni, A.H., and Puyate, Y.T. (2007), Some physical properties of African nutmeg (Monodora myristica), International Agrophysics, (21), pp. 123-124.

Fattouch, S. P., Caboni, S., Coroneo, V., Tuberoso, C. I. G., Angioni, A., Dessi, S., Marzouki, N. and Cabras, P. (2007), Antimicrobial activity of Tunisian quince (Cydonia oblonga Miller) pulp and peel polyphenolic extracts, Journal Agricultural food Chem., 55, pp.963–966.

Iwu, M. M., Igboko, A. O., Okunji, C. O., and Onwuchekwa, U., (1987), Evaluation of the anthihepatotoxic activity of the biflavonoids of Garciaria kola seeds, Journal of Enth. Pharmacol., 21(2), pp. 127-130.

Ogu, G. I., Ekeanyanwu, R. C., Madagwu, E. C., Eboh, O. J. and Okoye, J. (2011), In Vitro Antimicrobial Evaluation of African Nutmeg (Monodora Myristica) Seeds, International Journal of Tropical Agriculture and Food Systems, Vol 5, No 1.

Ogunmoyole, T., Inaboya, S., Makun. J. O., and Kade. I. J. (2013), Differential Antioxidant Properties of Ethanol and Water Soluble Phytochemicals of False Nutmeg (Monodora myristica) Seeds, International Journal of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Vol. 2 (1), pp. 253-257.

Onyenibe, N. S., Fowokemi, K. T. and Emmanuel, O. B. (2015), African Nutmeg (Monodora Myristica) Lowers Cholesterol and Modulates Lipid Peroxidation in Experimentally Induced Hypercholesterolemic Male Wistar Rats, International Journal of Biomedical Science, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 86-87.

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