Xylopia aethiopica (Dunal) A. Rich (Annonaceae) Ethiopian Pepper, Guinea Pepper, Negro Pepper, Spice Tree (Medicine)

Medicinal Uses (Ethiopian Pepper) —

Important in African folk medicine. In Nigeria, it is used as a cancer remedy (JLH). Fruit extracts and bark decoction are used for bronchitis, biliousness, dysentery, and painful febrile conditions. Congolese steep bark in palm wine, suggesting one to two glasses a day for asthma, rheumatism, and stomachache. Concentrated root decoction used as mouthwash in toothache. Fruits used to counter pain and as a carminative and laxative. Used also as anthelminthic, they are especially recommended in puerperium. Its analgesic property is useful for chest pain, dermatosis, headache, lumbago, neuralgia, parturition, rib ache, and sideache. The fruits were suspected to enhance fertility and aid delivery. It was even believed abortifacient. Fruits are particularly high in zinc, perhaps a solid rationale for recommending consumption during pregnancy and lactation (X8616672).
Xylopic acid and two other diterpene isolates were found to have antimicrobial properties when tested against five microorganisms, Bacillus subtilis, Candida albicans, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus (X600023). Oxophoebine and liriodenine showed selective toxicity against DNA repair and recombination deficient mutants of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae, while oxoglaucine, O-methylmoschatoline, and lysicamine were inactive. Bioactive oxoaporphine alkaloids may act as DNA topoisomerase inhibitors (X8158166).
And extracts showed cardiovascular and diuretic activity and displayed low toxicity (LC50 = 0.5-5.0 ng/ml). The diterpene kaurenoids showed significant systemic hypotensive and coronary vasodilatory effect accompanied with bradycardia, perhaps due to calcium antagonistic mechanism. The diuretic and natriuretic effects found were comparable to chlorothiazide (X11535360).

Indications (Ethiopian Pepper) —

Amenorrhea (f; UPW); Asthma (f; UPW); Bacteria (1; FNF); Biliousness (f; UPW); Boil (f; UPW); Bronchosis (f; FNF; UPW); Cancer (f; FNF; JLH; UPW);
Cardiopathy (1; X11535360); Childbirth (f; UPW); Constipation (f; UPW); Convulsion (f; UPW);
Cough (f; UPW); Dermatosis (f; FNF; UPW); Dysentery (f; FNF; UPW); Epilepsy (f; UPW); Headache (f; FNF; UPW); High Blood Pressure (1; X11535360); Infertility (f; UPW); Lumbago (f; UPW); Neuralgia (f; UPW); Pain (f; UPW); Pneumonia (f; FNF; UPW); Pyorrhea (f; UPW); Respirosis (f; UPW); Rheumatism (f; FNF; UPW); Rib Ache (f; UPW); Roundworm (f; UPW); Side Ache (f; UPW); Stomachache (f; UPW); Toothache (f; FNF; UPW); Water Retention (1; X11535360); Worm (f; UPW).

Ethiopian Pepper for cardiopathy:

• Antiatherogenic: rutin
• Antiedemic: piperine; rutin
• Antihemorrhoidal: rutin
• Antioxidant: rutin
• Cardiotonic: piperine
• Hypocholesterolemic: rutin
• Hypotensive: piperine; rutin
• Sedative: liriodenine
• Vasodilator: liriodenine

Ethiopian Pepper for dysentery:

• Antibacterial: liriodenine; piperine; rutin
• Antihepatotoxic: rutin
• Antiseptic: piperine
• Antispasmodic: piperine; rutin
• Antiviral: rutin
• Candidicide: liriodenine
• Carminative: piperine
• Hepatoprotective: piperine

Ethiopian Pepper for edema:

• Analgesic: liriodenine; piperine
• Anesthetic: piperine
• Anticapillary-Fragility: rutin
• Antiedemic: piperine; rutin
• Antiinflammatory: piperine; rutin
• Lipoxygenase-Inhibitor: rutin

Other Uses (Ethiopian Pepper) —

Fruits probably most important as spice. Seeds and fruits once exported from Africa to Europe in the Middle Ages as a peppery spice. Now mostly of local use in Africa to season coffee, palm wine, and local dishes (FAC). Added to purify dirty water. Fruits even smoked like a pungent tobacco. Pulverized fruits added to snuffs to increase the pungency. Fruits were ground with red pepper (Capsicum) and Cola to repel the Kola weevil. Seeds also used as a spice, distinct from the fruits. Mixed with other spices, they are rubbed on the body as a cosmetic and scent. Leaves macerated in palm wine to make an intoxicant. Bark is used to make cordage, to wrap around torches, and in making fragile doors and partitions. Wood used in boats, bows, crossbows, joists, masts, oars, paddles, posts, and spars (UPW). Termite resistant wood is also used in home building. Burning with a hot flame, it is burned to fuel steamboats. Root wood can be used as corkage.
For more information on activities, dosages, and contraindications, see the CRC Handtopic of Medicinal Herbs, ed. 2,  et al. 2002.

Cultivation (Ethiopian Pepper)

— Sometimes left to stand in the villages.

Chemistry (Ethiopian Pepper) —

Some 28 odor-active compounds in the flavor are linalol (floral), followed by (E)-beta-ocimene (flowery), alpha-farnesene (sweet, flowery), beta-pinene (terpeny), alpha-pinene (pine needle-like), myrtenol (flowery), and beta-phellandrene (terpeny). Vanillin (vanilla-like) and 3-ethylphenol (smoky, phenolic) were detected for the first time in the dried fruit (Tairu et al., 1999). Here are a few of the more notable chemicals found in Ethiopian pepper. For a complete listing of the phytochemicals and their activities, see the CRC phytochemical compendium,  and 1993 (DAD) and the USDA database.
Liriodenine — Antibacterial; Antidermatophytic MIC 3.12 |Jg/mL; Antitumor; Candidicide; Chan-nel-Blocker 0.1 mmol/l; Cytotoxic; Fungicide MIC 100 |Jg/mL; Topoisomerase-II-Inhibitor IC50 = 0.11 \\M; Vasodilator 0.1 mmol/l.
Piperine — See also Piper nigrum.
Xylopic-Acid — Antiseptic; Calcium-Antagonist; Diuretic; Hypotensive; Vasodilator.

Next post:

Previous post: