Abortifacient properties of alligator pepper (Aframomum melegueta) seeds

  • Ute Inegbenebor
  • Kemakolam Amadi
  • Maureen I Ebomoyi
  • Kevin A Onyia

Abstract

Alligator pepper (Aframomum melegueta) is used in the Surinam cuisine to flavour dishes such as vegetables (okra and tomatoes recipes), soups (lentil and chicken) and fish recipes. It has a wide use and the eating does not exclude pregnant women who actually use it to terminate unwanted pregnancy. A large percentage of maternal deaths in Nigeria is related to unsafe abortions. Abortifacient drugs are not generally available in the country which has restrictive abortion laws. To investigate possible abortifacient effect of Aframomum melegueta seeds, three groups of pregnant female Wistar albino rats were used. Group one, served as control, received no alligator pepper. Groups two and three were given aqueous extract of and the granulated alligator pepper respectively. Every group was fed normal rat chow while tap water was allowed ad libitum for the period of gestation. The results showed that the number and mean weight of litters were not significant between control and aqueous recipient groups suggesting that the extract had no deleterious effect on fertility. However group three that received granulated alligator pepper in doses above 4.0mg/kg body weight did not litter. While not advocating abortion the dose if worked out in humans could be utilized in fertility clinics, as a safe abortifacient if the mother’s life is seriously endangered by the pregnancy.

Keywords: Abortifacient; Alligator pepper; Aframomum melegueta; Seeds

Author Biographies

Ute Inegbenebor
Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, Nigeria
Kemakolam Amadi
Department of Human Physiology, College of Medical Sciences, University of Jos, Jos Nigeria
Maureen I Ebomoyi
Department of Physiology, College of Medicine University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
Kevin A Onyia
Department of Physiology, College of Medicine University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria
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