Pepperfruit also called Dennettia tripetala is a protein-dense fruit, widely found and consumed in Nigeria and West Africa. It is a plant loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients like vitamins A, C, and E . Its leaves are used as spices or condiments for pepper soup, while the fruits are eaten raw and believed to help curb nausea, fever, cough, and relieve pain.
The botanical name of Pepperfruit is Dennettia tripetala from the Annonaceae family. However, as a plant indigenous to Africa and Nigeria to be exact, it has a common name given to it by different ethnic nationalities in Nigeria as noted below.
In the Nigerian language, it’s called
- Ako in Edo
- Imako in Urhobo
- Nmimi in Igbo
- Ata Igbere in Yoruba.
- Nkarika in Efik
- Food preservation — oil extract can help preserve perishable foods .
- Leaves are used as spices or condiments for pepper soup.
- Can be eaten raw to mask mouth odor
- Serves as a stimulant when consumed raw
- Used to cure children’s fever
- Eaten raw to stop cough
- Can Chew to stop nausea or prevent vomiting
- Consumed to ease pain
- When eaten raw it can help the sensory neurons to block the detection of toxic, painful, or injurious stimulus
Pepperfruit is rich in vitamins and minerals such as;
- Crude protein
- Crude fibres
- Crude lipids
- Ascorbic Acid
- Niacin .
- Phenolic acids
- Essential oil with compounds such as limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene
1. Phenolic acids — Pepperfruit contains phenolic acids such as gallic acid and caffeic acid. These compounds are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties .
2. Alkaloids play an important role in the body and Dennettia tripetala is said to be rich in alkaloid compounds such as piperine. in case you don’t know, piperine is equally found in black pepper. Piperine has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
3. Flavonoids like quercetin and kaempferol are also present in Pepperfruit, and it’s believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
4. Tannins are good antimicrobials that help to inhibit the activities of bacteria by disrupting the cell membrane. Pepperfruit (Dennettia tripetala) contains tannins, which are compounds that can help reduce bacterial infection
5. Essential oils: The plant contains essential oils that are responsible for its characteristic aroma and flavor. These oils contain compounds such as limonene, alpha-pinene, and beta-pinene .
Benefits Of Pepperfruit
Dennettia tripetala (Pepperfruit) has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat and as well prevent several ailments. Here are some of the health benefits of Pepperfruit.
Pepperfruit is found to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties which may help relieve pain. It can be eaten raw to the sensory neurons block the detection of toxic, painful, or injurious stimuli. This can alleviate pain and also reduce inflammation in the body [8, 9].
Fights infection-causing bacteria
Dennettia tripetala possesses bacteria-fighting (antimicrobial) properties due to the presence of Tannins. It can help fights infection-causing microorganism and bacteria by disrupting the metabolic activities in their cell membrane.
Another related study also noted the ability of Pepperfruit essential oil to inhibit the activities of certain strains of bacteria and fungi  such as;
- Staphylococcus aureus.
- Salmonella species.
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
- Proteus species.
- Escherichia coli.
- Enterococcus faecalis.
- Serratia species.
- Bacillus species.
- Aspergillus flavus.
It is important to know that this study recorded minimal inhibitory activities against the aforementioned bacteria. This means, pepper fruit extract can not single-handedly eliminate them, and hence may be combined with other herbs like cloves, etc.
Pepper fruits can be consumed raw when faced with certain digestive issues, such as diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain, even indigestion. Contain a compound that can reduce bloating and as well as improve digestion.
Boost Immune system
Pepper fruits are rich in antioxidants that strengthen our body’s immunity. These antioxidants can help our body effectively combat diseases and infections. Most importantly increases our body’s antioxidant levels, which can protect the body against damage from free radicals. Oxidative stress caused by free radicals has been found to contribute to the development of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease .
Helpful in treating respiratory issues
Pepperfruit is found to have expectorant properties which help tackle cough and other respiratory issues such as colds, and asthma. It can help reduce inflammation in the respiratory system and improve breathing.
May help lower blood sugar
Pepperfruit possesses anti-diabetic properties and can be helpful for diabetic patients who consume the fruit from time to time. According to research, it has antihyperglycemic properties.
A related study on rats confirmed a significant decrease in plasma glucose of rat after about 8 to 10 hours post-treatment. This can serve as justifiable evidence that the use of Pepperfruit extract can help manage diabetes mellitus .
Although evidence suggests that Pepperfruit has several potential benefits to health and is a valuable plant in traditional medicine. However, more in-depth research is needed to fully comprehend its full benefits and side effects on humans.
Pepperfruit and Fertility
May protect reproductive gametes from free radicals
Dennettia tripetala may help improve fertility and our reproductive function due to its antioxidant-making properties. Study finds that antioxidants can protect sperm cell and female egg from the harmful effects of free radicals .
There is evidence that oxidative stress is not only a cause of certain chronic diseases but is detrimental to our reproductive health . However, intake of Pepperfruit extract may help increase our antioxidant level and fight against oxidative damage.
Pepperfruit may equally improve Sperm quality due to its antioxidant-making properties. Antioxidant protects sperm cells from oxidative damage and indirectly boost overall sperm health.
May improve the menstrual Cycle
A study  finds that menstruation in females is accompanied by a lot of inflammatory processes due to tissue breakdown and bleeding during this period. It also comes along with pains, cramps, and other complications that may arise due to the loss of too many body antioxidants.
Similarly, it has long been established  that inflammations are a known symptom of many infectious and non-infectious diseases and when neglected could gravely impact fertility in both men and women.
Interestingly, an evidence-based review  published on open access confirmed that intake of anti-inflammatory diets during the preconception period may boost fertility and chances of pregnancy.
However, Pepperfruit on the other hand is rich in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, hence intake may lower inflammation and increase antioxidant levels which supports healthy menstruation.
Pepperfruit In Pregnancy
When taken moderately, it may help stop nausea or morning sickness which is common during pregnancy, but before intake, consult health experts for insight.
While there are health and fertility benefits of Pepperfruit, it is important to know that evidence supporting this, is currently limited and should be substituted for professional medical advice or treatment.
JC is passionate about finding the impact of foods (feeding habits) on human fertility and reproductive health and a way to improve fertility.