Ehuru, the African Nutmeg

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Monodora myristica Dunal is a perennial edible plant of the family Annonaceae. It is found most commonly in the evergreen forests of West Africa, in countries like Liberia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Uganda and west Kenya.  Common names are African nutmeg and calabash nutmeg. In Nigeria, it is called gujiya dan miya in Hausa, ehuru in Igbo and abolakoshe in Yoruba. Inside the fruit are the numerous oblong, pale brown seeds which are usually 1.5 cm long and are surrounded by a whitish fragrant pulp.

 

Constituents

The essential oil from the leaves contains β-caryophyllene, α-humulene and α-pinene; while that from the seeds contains α-phellandrene, α-pinene, myrcene, limonene and pinene. Phytochemical screening carried out on M. myristica extract revealed the presence of Tannin, saponin, flavonoid, steroid, terpenoids, cardiac glycoside, alkaloid and phenol. Also present in the seeds are Fiberro-latic oils, resins, lactose and arocine. Studies reveal the presence of Calcium, folic acid, Magnesium, manganese, sodium, lead, nickel, iron, zinc and chromium in ehuru. Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, B12, C and E are also present

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Preparations

  1. myristica is available as whole seeds. It is used as powder to spice and flavour soups. It may be used in medicine as infusion or decoction. The powder may be incorporated into ointments for topical application.

 

Pharmacological actions and medicinal uses

According to researchers, ehuru seeds have been proven to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-sickling, antimicrobial, diurectic properties. Several literature report the use of M. myristica in the management of health conditions like headache, mild fevers, pains, cold, bronchitis, arthritis, rheumatism, haemorrhoids, stomach ache, eye diseases, diabetes mellitus and hypertension.

When the powdered seed is used to prepare soup, M. myristica acts as stimulant to relieve constipation and control passive uterine haemorrhage. It also stimulates flow of milk in women when taken immediately after childbirth; thus its use as a postpartum tonic.

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This spice helps in calming the nervous system and improves blood circulation to the reproductive organs. It is a great sex stimulant and improves libido in both men and women. It boosts ovulation.

Researchers reveal that ehuru seeds have cholesterol-lowering ability.

The leaves and seeds can act as a repellent to insects; as well as being used for treating sores and wounds.

Adverse effects

Long-term use of nutmeg in doses of 120 mg or more daily has been linked with hallucinations and other mental side effects. Larger doses of nutmeg have been associated with nausea, dry mouth, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, agitation and hallucinations. Other serious side effects have included death.

Economic uses and potentials

Studies have shown that almost every part of M. myristica tree is important economically. The timber is used for carpentry, house fittings and joinery; while the seeds are also made into necklaces. The pulp of ehuru seeds contains essential oil that can be used as cooking oil or industrially for manufacturing perfumes, soaps and washing detergents.

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The most economically important parts are the seeds, which cost about 170.00 per pack of 100g. Ehuru, the African nutmeg, has prospects in the pharmaceutical, food, cosmetic and ornamental industries, through processing, packaging, sales and distribution.

References

Nwozo SO, Kasumu TF, and Oyinloye BE. African Nutmeg (Monodora Myristica) Lowers Cholesterol and Modulates Lipid Peroxidation in Experimentally Induced Hypercholesterolemic Male Wistar Rats. Int J Biomed Sci. 2015 Jun; 11(2): 86–92.

By Pharm. Ngozika Okoye, (Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency)                         Email: ngozikaokoye@yahoo.com

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