Take advantage of the health benefits of iyere (piper guineense)

Take advantage of the health benefits of iyere (piper guineense)

Olufunke Faluyi

Piper guineense known as iyere in Yoruba and uziza in Igbo is in the family Piperaceae. The fruit of this plant is an invaluable spice known as Ashanti pepper, Benin pepper West African pepper or even black pepper. Piper nigrum is also called black pepper; they should be regarded as synonyms for iyere. The plant is a vine (a climber) that can grow to 20 metres in length, using boles of trees as support; the fruits are round berries and they are borne on long, pendulous inflorescences. This spice plant is cultivated in Nigeria and it also occurs in Central Africa. In Nigeria, the leaves are also used as spice to flavour stews.

Iyere has been considered the ‘king of all spices’ and it was used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds. It has a sharp and mildly spicy flavour that goes well with many dishes. Its spiciness is due to the chemical compound piperine.

This spice increases the absorption of essential nutrients and beneficial plant compounds. The curcumin in turmeric is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream; as a result, you could be missing out on its advantages. Research supports the use of piperine in Piper guineense with curcumin in turmeric to enhance the absorption of curcumin by up to 2000 per cent.

In a study titled “Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory and Antinociceptive Properties of Black Pepper Essential Oil (Piper nigrum Linn.)’’ by Kottarapat Jeena et al. in the Journal of Essential Oil-bearing Plants, it was concluded that the essential oil of Piper nigrum possesses anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive (ability to block the reception of a painful or injurious stimulus by sensory neurons) properties. Olayinka T. Ogunmefun et al. also reported that Piper guineense has a potential for the treatment of various pathogenic diseases based on the valuable phytochemicals known for microbial inhibition it contains.

Of all spices, iyere is my favourite. The flavour thrills me all the time. I recall my discussion on spices, in general, with Mr. Matthew Oluwaniyi an academic technologist at the Department of Pharmacognosy in the Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He shared his experience on turmeric when about four years ago he started feeling weak and the colour of his urine turned black, as black as the coke drink at the peak even though he was not drinking alcohol. He told me he sought medical help and his doctor sent him for a scan of the abdominal region which revealed an inflamed liver. His doctor prescribed fruits, vegetables and lots of turmeric for him instead of drugs.

He started seeing changes within a week! It does not cost an arm or a leg to incorporate spices into our diets. Our bodies will thank us for doing so. What turmeric has done for this man, many of the spices available to us can do; this is not exactly about turmeric but all spices.

Let us see the benefits:

Iyere has anti-inflammatory properties

Chronic inflammation may be an underlying factor in many conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Many laboratory studies suggest that piperine, the active substance in Piper guineense may effectively fight inflammation. In studies of rats with arthritis, treatment with piperine resulted in less joint swelling and fewer blood markers of inflammation. In other mouse studies, piperine suppressed inflammation caused by asthma and seasonal allergies.

Benefits the brain

Piperine has been shown to improve brain function in animal studies. In particular, it has demonstrated potential benefits for symptoms related to degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimers and Parkinsons disease. A study in rats with Alzheimers disease found that Piperine improved memory as the distribution of piperine enabled the rats to repeatedly run a maze more efficiently than rats not given the compound.

Promotes gut health

The makeup of your gut bacteria has been linked to immune function, mood, chronic diseases, and more. Preliminary research shows that Ashanti pepper may increase the good bacteria in your gut.

High in antioxidants

The piperine in Ashanti pepper has been found to have potent antioxidant properties in test tube studies. Test tube and rodent studies have shown that ground iyere supplements may reduce radical damage. Rats fed a high-fat diet plus either Ashanti pepper or concentrated extract from it had significantly-fewer markers of free radical damage in their cells after 10 weeks compared to rats fed a high-fat diet alone.

Improves fertility in men

It plays an important role in improving male fertility. It is known to increase testosterone levels as it is rich in zinc and magnesium, two minerals critical for male sex hormones. It also increases sperm count and its concentration. The zinc element also helps in the development and movement of sperms.

Helps prevent cancer

According to a study carried out by the University of Michigan Cancer Centre, black pepper was found to prevent the development of breast cancer and tumours. They found that the piperine content of black pepper plays a key role in preventing cancers. It further stated that when combined with turmeric, its anticancer properties are heightened. Apart from piperine, black pepper also contains vitamin C, Vitamin A, flavonoids, carotenes and other antioxidants that help remove harmful free radicals and protect the body from cancers and diseases. Other studies have suggested its efficacy in stalling the progression of skin, bowel and colon cancers.

Fights wrinkles

Iyere fights the signs of premature ageing like wrinkles, fine lines and even dark spots. You can simply add black pepper to your diet to see its skin-enhancing effects or just combine a teaspoon of black pepper with equal amounts of honey and turmeric. Add water for a smoother consistency then apply the mask to your face twice a day.

Lowers blood pressure

Relieves cold and cough

It has immune-boosting properties

Promotes weight lossFights infectionsIt has fever-reducing propertiesImproves oral healthHelps in the process of quitting smokingImproves blood sugar controlGood for vitiligo (loss of skin pigment)Revitalises the hairIt is a natural pain relieverLowers cholesterol levelExfoliates the skin.Like any other natural […]

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