Most of us are not aware of the tremendous health benefits of Uziza leaves. Uziza (piper guineense) is an African Plant; it has two parts the leaves and the seed. The leaves which have a peppery taste are green when fresh and darker green when dried or ground. Piper guineense ‘Uziza’ is of the family of Piperaceae and contains over 700 species all over the world. The spice is obtained from its dried fruit known as Uziza Pepper, West African pepper, Ashanti pepper, Benin pepper, black pepper, Guinea cubeb.
Uziza is a popular local spice mainly used in Nigerian dishes. It gives this hot slightly bitter aroma to the food. The spice is known to provide nutritional, culinary, insecticidal and medicinal benefits. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, alkaloids, steroids, glycosides, saponins, flavonoids, tannins and phenolic compounds; also vitamins, minerals and fat.
The many benefits of Uziza
In p.gunieese there’s said to be the presence of phytochemicals that has therapeutic properties. As a result of this, these spices are therapeutically useful in the administration of medicinal and dietary purposes. It can be used for the treatment of stomach ache, leprosy, infertility in women and low sperm count in men, convulsion, cough, and loss of appetite.
They can be used in the treatment of intestinal disorders like, diarrhea dysentery, indigestion, flatulence and cholera. Uziza leaves are aseptic in nature and are able to relieve flatulence.
It contains alkaloids, which are one of the most therapeutically efficient significant bioactive substances in plants. Alkaloids are used in CNS stimulant, powerful pain relievers, a topical anesthetic in ophthalmology.
Uziza helps with the treatment of infertility in women and low sperm count in men. Women with infertility problems should boil p. guineese ‘uziza’ together with xylopia spp (uda), lime juice, honey, Congronema latifolium (utazi) and Capsicum Spp pepper in 1 liter. of water and then take 1 glass cup on a daily basis only during menstruation (for women). Men on the other hand, can take ½ bottle of lime juice mixed with 1 bottle of honey and taken 1 shot twice on a daily basis for low sperm count treatment.
In Igbo land nursing mothers use Uziza to enhance uterine contraction for expulsion of placenta and other remains from the womb after birth. It helps the uterine muscles to return to their original shape.
Uziza seeds are also recommended for anti-inflammatory purposes. The seed contains large amounts of beta-carophyllene which is an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation is a complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants.
Research shows that the leaf and seed of P.guineense extract have larvicidal effects at high concentration on mosquito larvae. Thus, making the plant to be utilized in the production of botanical larvicides which could be used as a substitute for the synthetic ones as they are readily available, affordable, eco-friendly and biodegradable.
Uziza also contains flavonoids that are potent water soluble antioxidants and free radicals scavengers which prevents oxidative cell damage and have strong anticancer and anti-ulcer activity and protection against the different levels of carcinogenesis.
Uziza “piper gunieese’ can also serve as traditional herbs used in treating certain ailments.
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