Pepper is one of the most important vegetables or spices all over the world. There are different varieties of pepper in the Nigerian market. The most common variety, however, is the ata rodo, Capsicum chinense (Fam. Solanaceae).
Also known as fresh pepper, English pepper, isawumi (Yoruba), ose oyibo (Igbo), scotch bonnet, Habanero peppers, ata rodo is the hottest of all commercially grown chili peppers.
Ata rodo contains vitamins C, A, B6 and folate. It also contains lycopeine and capsaicin
Pharmacological actions and medicinal uses
Capsaicin does not only help reduce pain, but its peppery sensation stimulates secretions that help clear mucus off a congested nose or lungs. Ata rodo has a role to play in boosting immunity. Due to the anti-inflammatory benefits of capsaicin, hot peppers can help prevent allergies and symptoms from allergies and can also help treat the symptoms of inflammation- based conditions like arthritis and headaches.
Capsaicin inhibits the production of Substance P, a compound that is responsible for the swelling and pain associated with inflammation. Capsaicin has anti-microbial properties; it inhibits bacteria and fungal growth.
Some research claims that peppers are beneficial to ulcers. Pepper powder provides trace amounts of anti-oxidants and other chemicals to aid digestive issues, healing an upset stomach, reducing intestinal gas, curing diarrhea and acting as a natural remedy for cramps. It is said to do this by reducing the acidity in the digestive tract that causes ulcers. It also helps to produce saliva and stimulates gastric juices aiding digestion.
Pepper aids the circulatory system and prevents heart disease by lowering blood serum cholesterol, reducing lipid deposits and dilating the blood vessels to aid in blood flow.
It reduces the growth of prostate cancer cells, while leaving normal cells unharmed. Research also shows consumption of large quantities of peppers is effective against breast, pancreatic and bladder cancers.
Ata rodo is known to play a part in weight management. It helps to reduce the build-up of excess body fat and aids metabolism. A 2006 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that the capsaicin consumed in chili peppers appeared to regulate insulin levels following a meal, especially for study subjects who were overweight.
In Nigeria, no dish seems to be complete without pepper. Apart from serving as spices, sauces, condiments and flavourings, pepper is used to decorate food and give it colour. It may be eaten fresh, cooked with a meal or prepared as a powder.
Reflux, heartburn, indigestion, rectal burning, painful diarrhea and skin rash are adverse effects associated with ata rodo. Ata rodo can aggravate ulcer pain and can trigger an attack in asthma sufferers.
Economic values and potentials
Ata rodo contains elements that are used in manufacturing medications like analgesics. It has been reported that Nigeria and Ghana top tropical production of pepper with 715,000t and 270,000t respectively as largest producers. Vietnam, India, Indonesia and Brazil are largest suppliers to the global market while the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia are the major destinations of pepper exports.
Pepper farming in Nigeria is very profitable because it is an essential ingredient of every meal. The consumption of pepper is so high that farmers hardly meet the demand for it locally. In fact Nigeria still imports the commodity. This is not to talk about the export potentials.
Commercial farming of pepper is an economy booster at both individual and national level.
(Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency)