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The health values of African Black Pepper (Uziza, Iyere)

One of the propelling and deep interests I have for herbal medicine is based on the fact that it is still like a virgin land waiting for exploration and exploitation. Medical botanists tell us that out of about 265,000 species of flowering plants that have been identified, just less than 1% (most specifically would say 0.5%) of them have been thoroughly analysed for their chemical composition and therapeutic values.

There is still hope; the solutions to most of the diseases plaguing the world today presumably could be lurking in that vegetation in our immediate environment who knows? Some of such perhaps we trample under our feet as we hurriedly and absent-mindedly dash in and out of our homes in quest for livelihood.

Uziza plant is one of such medicinal herbs that have received extended researchers’ attention. Scientifically known as Piper guineense, all parts of this plant are medicinal. In Nigeria and Africa as a whole, the leaves and the seeds of this plant are mostly utilized for food and medicine.

The plant is rich in Vitamin B2, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin C as well as the following minerals; calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

Here is a list of what this medicinal plant can do for you;

1. Uziza leaves and seeds stimulate digestion and appetite.

2. The leaves and seeds relieve flatulence.

3. The leaves are used to treat respiratory infections.

4. Uziza leaves and seeds improve low sperm count, poor sperm motility and also increase libido too.

5. Aside from increasing libido (sexual urge), Uziza encourages strong penile erection.

6. The leaves are employed in the treatment of both male and female infertility resulting from hormonal imbalance.

7. The leaves and seeds have antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, larvicidal and antiparasitic actions.

8. After childbirth, women especially of the Eastern Nigeria, consume special broth of Uziza to enhance uterine contraction thereby leading to the expulsion of retained matter from the womb.

9. Uziza is rich in PIPERINE which stimulates the body to absorb nutrients most especially vitamin B and beta-carotene and is suitable for gastrointestinal health conditions among others.

10. It is very useful in the treatment of inflamed tonsils.

11. It is a good remedy to control diarrhea.

12. Researchers have demonstrated that it can help in the treatment and management of alzheimer disease.

13. Due to its analgesic property, herbalists recommend Uziza to patients suffering from rheumatism.

14. It allays nausea and vomiting

15. It is a good antioxidant; Uziza leaves exhibit free radical scavenging activity.

16. The anti-tumor action of Uziza seed has been verified. Combining the seeds of Uziza with Turmeric, herbalists believe, is an important key component in the treatment and management of certain forms of cancer.

17. Uziza leaves and seeds possess antihyperlipidemic property, they lower blood fat and as such, indirectly normalise blood flow and heart function.

Please note that herbal supplements are best administered by trained health care providers.

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Dr Gilbert Ezengige is a licensed natural medicine practitioner, lecturer and writer on health and social issues.

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April 2018
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