Health benefits of alligator pepper

Many people would agree that alligator pepper doesn't taste good when consumed raw. But, if you can consume it, alligator pepper sure has many health benefits to the body

seeds of alligator pepper (Aframomum danielli) a west African spice with many health benefits

Key takeaways:

  • Health benefits of alligator pepper include having antimicrobial properties, being useful for treating wounds, pain relief benefits, and reducing inflammation. Consuming alligator pepper and ginger may also have other added benefits, such as supporting weight management and relieving gastrointestinal issues like bloating and indigestion.
  • Alligator pepper may not be safe for pregnant or lactating mothers and should not be taken in place of medication.
  • Despite the touted health benefits of alligator, it is always best to check in with a doctor before taking alligator pepper, especially for therapeutic purposes, to be sure it is safe for you.

People living in tropical parts of the world, like Nigeria and Ghana, are more familiar with alligator pepper (also called guinea pepper or grains of paradise). Its botanical name is Aframomum danielli.

Alligator pepper is native to West Africa and is a member of the ginger family. It has native names in places like Ghana, where it is predominant. For instance, the Twi name for alligator pepper is Efom Wisa or Efom Wisain. Other common local names for it are mbongo spice, hepper pepper, Afrika kakulesi, ginny pepper, and guinea pepper.

The fruits, leaves, and seeds of alligator pepper serve as flavoring agents for traditional foods and for performing traditional rites. Alligator pepper has been linked to numerous health benefits. Some people use it for treating health conditions like diabetes. A 2016 study indicated that it might help treat hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and hypercholesterolemia.

So far, studies have not linked alligator pepper to significant side effects. Still, pregnant and lactating mothers are advised against taking it unless their healthcare providers say otherwise.

10 health benefits of alligator

The health benefits of alligator pepper include:

1. Has high antioxidant properties

One of the greatest health benefits of alligator pepper is its antioxidant properties. The polyphenol content of alligator pepper has been shown to have effective antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the body against damage caused by free radicals (unstable molecules that attack important macromolecules in the body, resulting in cell damage and balance disruption).

Antioxidants protect the body by preventing the formation of radicals, scavenging them, or promoting their decomposition.

2. Used in the treatment of wounds

Another possible health benefit of alligator pepper is the treatment of wounds. Research done using experimental animals showed that the extracts of alligator pepper can promote wound healing.

The experiment showed that alligator pepper can help in the formation of new tissues in the area affected by injury.

3. Used in treating gastrointestinal disorders

Alligator pepper may be useful in treating gastrointestinal problems like stomach aches and diarrhea. This is an important health benefit of alligator pepper.

Some people prefer to chew alligator pepper hot and spicy to help with gastrointestinal problems. Consuming the seed may also help treat bloating, constipation, ulcer, and intestinal worms.

4. Has antimicrobial properties

Another important health benefit of alligator pepper is that it has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Alligator pepper has phenolic compounds, which means they may be useful in inhibiting bacterial growth.

Studies have shown that alligator pepper has antimicrobial properties. Scientists found that it stopped bacteria like Salmonella typhi, Klebsiella pneumonia, and Staphylococcus aureus from growing.

5. Helps improve sexual function

Alligator pepper has been used in traditional medicine to improve sexual function. Some people take it for increased libido. This is one of the known possible alligator pepper health benefits.

However, more studies need to be carried out to ascertain how it acts to improve sexual function.

6. Used as a remedy for skin diseases

One important health benefit of alligator pepper worth mentioning is that it may also be useful in dermatological care. A study showed that Alligator pepper had been used in traditional medicine to treat viral infections like chickenpox, measles, and smallpox that cause skin rashes.

7. Reduces blood sugar

You may reap the health benefits of alligator pepper if you have been diagnosed with diabetes, as the plant may be helpful for people with this condition. This is one of the health benefits you may get from consuming alligator pepper.

According to a 2011 research that studied the effect of alligator pepper on blood sugar levels of male rats induced with diabetes, blood glucose levels were reduced significantly in the groups that received alligator pepper leaf extracts.

8. Serves as a pain reliever

One of the health benefits of alligator pepper is that it helps relieve pain for some people. A study suggests that the aqueous seed extracts of alligator pepper have peripheral analgesic activity. Analgesics are drugs that serve as pain relievers.

Studies show that alligator pepper has a property that makes it work as an analgesic. This means that it may help relieve pain from injuries, headaches, or other health problems. They can also relieve joint pain and pain due to health conditions like arthritis.

9. Has anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is not entirely bad. It is the body's natural way of healing and fighting off infection. However, when it becomes long-lasting (chronic), it can turn into a silent killer that contributes to a long list of disorders, such as internal scarring, diabetes, cancer, asthma, and atherosclerosis.

Over the years, people have used different plants to treat or prevent chronic inflammation. One such plant is the alligator pepper. One of the health benefits of alligator pepper that has made people continue to consume the plant is its anti-inflammatory properties.

Alligator peppers contain gingerol, a phenolic compound also found in ginger.7 Studies indicate that gingerol has antioxidant, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory effects.8

10. Promotes strong digestive functions

Some people who have used alligator pepper claim that it helps their body digest food easily and prevents bloating. This is one of the potential health benefits of alligator pepper.

While this may work for some people, it may not work for everybody. Also, more studies need to be carried out in this area.

If you have diabetes, read about some healthy Nigerian foods that are great for people with diabetes.

Uses of alligator pepper

Alligator pepper has different uses and functions. Its uses vary widely depending on culture and location.

Some of the common uses of alligator pepper include:

  1. Alligator pepper is used in traditional medicine to heal certain diseases, like diarrhea and stomach aches.
  2. It is used as a flavor in some local dishes.
  3. It is used traditionally in Igbo land (one of the major tribes in Nigeria) for naming ceremonies. They use it to say prayers for the newborn baby.
  4. In Igbo land, it is also used to welcome visitors.
  5. It is mixed with kola nuts during prayers and libations.
  6. It is commonly used in Asia to treat snake bites.
  7. The Yorubas in the western part of Nigeria put a small amount of alligator pepper on the tongues of their newborn babies. They use it as a way of welcoming the baby into the world.

Health benefits of taking alligator pepper and ginger

Ginger, scientifically called Zingiber officinale, is a root herb that originates from Southeast Asia. People add it to food as a spice to enrich the food's flavor and add more nutrients. It also has medicinal benefits.

People who love local dishes or are fans of natural herbs may wonder if it is okay to take alligator pepper and ginger together or if this combination has health benefits.

Because ginger has tons of benefits associated with it, taking it with alligator pepper will be safe for many people and may, in fact, amplify the benefits they may get from taking only one of these plants.

Potential health benefits of taking alligator pepper and ginger include:

  • Relieving or preventing constipation, bloating, and nausea
  • Aiding weight management
  • Helping manage indigestion
  • Helping relieve joint pain and stiffness
  • Reducing menstrual pain

Wrap up

Alligator pepper has different uses and health benefits. While there are different reports on the uses and health benefits of alligator pepper, you should know that not all are scientifically proven. Also, some of the reported health benefits need further research to confirm their effectiveness, safety, and efficacy.

It is also important to note that alligator pepper should be consumed because of its nutritional constituents, not as a treatment option for any health condition. It should not be taken in place of medication. If you feel sick or have been diagnosed with any medical condition, you should speak with your doctor about the right treatment plan.

Also, it is best for pregnant people and nursing mothers to seek dietary advice from their healthcare providers before consuming alligator pepper, particularly in large amounts.

Do you know some foods can help heal and alleviate ulcer symptoms? Read about some Nigerian foods that are good for stomach ulcer patients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is alligator pepper good for cough?

A few available studies suggest that alligator pepper may be good for relieving coughs. For instance, a 2015 study published in the Global Journal of Health Science showed that people chew alligator pepper seed as a remedy for cough. However, more study needs to be carried out to determine if its effect on cough is significant and how it acts to treat cough.

Is alligator pepper good for the kidney?

Not many studies have been carried out on the effects of alligator pepper on the kidneys. One study that studied its effect on the serum creatinine, urea, and electrolyte levels in rats found that alligator pepper had no negative effect on the kidneys. However, the researchers included that a higher dose or prolonged administration of the alligator pepper extract may produce adverse effects.


  1. Abo KA et al., (2008). Ethnobotanical studies of medicinal plants used in the management of diabetes mellitus in South Western Nigeria
  2. Adefagha SA et al., (2017). Comparative Effects of Alkaloid Extracts from Aframomum melegueta (Alligator Pepper) and Aframomum danielli (Bastered Melegueta) on Enzymes Relevant to Erectile Dysfunction
  3. Adefegha SA., (2016). Alligator pepper/Grain of Paradise (Aframomum melegueta) modulates Angiotensin-I converting enzyme activity, lipid profile and oxidative imbalances in a rat model of hypercholesterolemia
  4. Kazeem MI, et al., (2012). Antiglycation, antioxidant and toxicological potential of polyphenol extracts of alligator pepper, ginger and nutmeg from Nigeria
  5. Lobo V et al., (2010). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Imapcts on human health.
  6. Temidayo D et al., (2022). West African medicinal plants and their constituent compounds as treatments for viral infections, including SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19
  7. Umukoro s, and Ashorobi RB (2007). Further studies on the antinociceptive action of aqueous seed extract of Aframomum melegueta
  8. Usman Y O et al., (2013). Effect of solvents on [6]-Gingerol content of ginger rhizome and alligator pepper seed
  9. Youn-Hwan Hwang et al., (2018). The Natural Product 6-Gingerol Inhibits Inflammation-Associated Osteoclast Differentiation via Reduction of Prostaglandin E2 Levels
  10. Bartels, E. M. et al. (2015). Efficacy and safety of ginger in osteoarthritis patients: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials.
  11. Rad, H. A. et al. (2018). Effect of Ginger and Novafen on menstrual pain: A cross-over trial.
  12. Alade, Gideon O et al. (2015). Indigenous Knowledge of Herbal Medicines among Adolescents in Amassoma, Bayelsa State, Nigeria.
  13. Onoja S. O., et al. (2015). Evaluation of the Effects of Methanolic Extract of Alligator Pepper (Aframomum melegueta) on Serum creatinine, Blood Urea Nitrogen and Electrolytes in Wistar Albino Rats.