Achi, Powerhouse of Nutrients

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Photo credit: Diettherapyline – Diettherapy

Achi, botanically known as Brachystegia eurycoma (PROTA) belongs to the Leguminosiae family, subfamily Caesalpiniaceae. The seed is dry, flat, round in shape and is a popular soup thickener in many parts of Nigeria and Cameroon. B. eurycoma is called akpakpa or taura in Hausa, achi in Igbo, ekalado or eku in Yoruba, okweri in Edo, apaupan in Ijaw, and odukpa in Ibibio.

Constituents

Phytochemical analysis shows the presence of alkaloids, tannins, saponins and flavonoids. Flavonoids, such as catechin, rutin, quercitrin, quercetin and kaempferol; and phenolic acids, such as gallic acid, caffeic, chlorogenic and ellagic acid are abundant in achi seeds. Achi contains carbohydrates and proteins. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and niacin, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron, are also present.

Preparations

Achi is available as the unhulled seeds, dehulled seeds and powder of the dried dehulled seed. The powder is used as a thickener in oha, onugbu, egusi, nsala and achi soups.

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Pharmacological actions and medicinal uses

Achi is said to have cholesterol-lowering, blood glucose-lowering, cancer-preventing, wound-healing, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antspasmodic and analgesic properties. The high fibre content makes bulky stool easier to pass, decreasing chances of constipation. With loose, watery stools, fibre may help to solidify the stool by absorbing the water and adding weight to the stool. It also supports healthy digestion by controlling the stomach’s acidity levels.

Studies show that the flavonoids and phenolic acids in achi decreased the levels of fasting blood glucose in diabetic rats; hence, achi seeds can be helpful in people with diabetes. Achi seed has been shown to inhibit cancer cells and tumour growth in laboratory studies. It means that there is potential that achi seeds can help fight cancer.

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A study suggested that both dietary fibre and polyphenol/flavonoids in achi seeds contribute to its potential preventive effect in colon carcinogenesis. Cancer prevention may be achieved by limiting oxidative stress and preventing or delaying the onset of cancer-forming processes.

Being a good source of protein, fibre, iron, and calcium, achi seeds are said to be an effective remedy against sores, ulcers, and boils, when mixed with snail mucin and honey. Natural achi seed extracts have been shown to inhibit bacterial growth and reduce inflammatory responses that lead to disease progression.

The anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties of achi are responsible for its analgesic effect as reported in many studies. Moreover, the potassium and magnesium content will help with muscle relaxation and nerve function. The seed will help one to sleep better at night due to the increase in melatonin production.

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Achi seed is an immune booster that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to treat common colds, coughs, and other respiratory illnesses.

Adverse effects

Side effects that could be experienced with achi include nausea, dizziness, headache and upset stomach. There could be allergic reaction resulting in difficulty in breathing. Study in rats show that Brachystegia eurycoma may possess nephrotoxic and hepatotoxic potentials at a very high dose.

Economic uses and potentials

Seeds and powder from dried de-hulled seeds sell for about for about N500 per cup. Achi is useful in the food and pharmaceutical industries. There are potentials in the sales, distribution, processing, research and development of achi seeds.

References

Nwokolo C. (2021). 9 Health Benefits of Achi Seeds (Brachystegia eurycoma). Available at: https://healthguide.ng/achi-seeds-brachystegia-eurycoma/

 

 

 

 

 

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