From Ergo Log
Japanese researchers believe that extracts of the African plant Aframomum melegueta – Melegueta pepper for the non-scientists among us – can help overweight people to reach a healthy weight. Experimental subjects burned an extra 100 kilocalories a day and their abdominal fat decreased on a modest daily dose of 30 mg.
In North Africa cooks use the seeds of the ginger-like plant Aframomum melegueta as a spice to give food a peppery taste.
Traditional healers also use the seeds of Aframomum melegueta as a libido enhancer, and animal studies have shown this to be the case. [Behav Pharmacol. 2002 May;13(3):243-7.] Animal studies have also shown that extracts of the plant raise testosterone levels. [Andrologia. 2012 Feb;44(1):53-8.] Bodybuilders may be familiar with Aframomum melegueta as it is an ingredient in Test Powder, a sports supplement produced by USP Labs that is claimed to boost testosterone levels.
Nutritionists at Tenshi College in Japan have been studying Aframomum melegueta for several years for a completely different reason. They suspect that the plant’s components my induce weight loss because they activate the TRPV1 receptor – the same receptor that interacts with stimulatory compounds found in red peppers and ginger.
In 2013 the Japanese researchers published the results of a human study in which Aframomum melegueta supplementation boosted calorie burning when the subjects were exposed to cold temperatures. [Br J Nutr. 2013 Aug;110(4):733-8.] The combination of cold and Aframomum melegueta stimulated the production of heat in the brown fat cells, according to the Japanese.
The same researchers recently published the results of a new human study in which they gave female students aged 19-22 a daily 30 mg of their own alcohol-based Aframomum melegueta extract for a period of four weeks. The subjects took one 10-mg capsule at each mealtime. The researchers then repeated the procedure on another occasion, but gave the students a placebo.
The figure here shows that after supplementation [black bars] the students burned 100 kilocalories a day more than before supplementation [white bars].
While the Aframomum melegueta supplementation did not have a statistically significant effect on body weight, it did have a statistically significant effect on the subjects’ fat reserves – on the visceral fat in the abdominal cavity to be precise. And thats a positive result, as too much visceral fat increases the chance of just about every chronic disease you can think of.
The researchers say that more research is needed, especially on the effects of Aframomum melegueta on overweight people. But they are optimistic that Aframomum melegueta will be selected as a safe and effective weight-loss supplement in the not too distant future.
J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2014;60(1):22-7.