Saturday, April 5, 2008

Grains of Paradise - Helps Heart Disease in Wild Gorillas

Heart disease in gorillas might sound like a funny topic for a garden blog, but I firmly believe what we eat directly affects our health and it stands to reason diet affects the health of gorillas too. Gorillas in captivity are succumbing to heart disease and scientists are looking at their diet to see if that might have something to do with their heart problems. In the wild, gorillas prefer to eat the shoots of a plant called Grains of Paradise, Aframomum melegueta, or Guinea pepper and the gorillas live much longer and healthier lives than those in zoos. African healers have used this same plant to treat infections for centuries and in West African villages visitors to homes eat the seeds of the plant before any discussions take place.

Scientists are researching Aframomum and the results look promising for the antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of this plant. Future antibiotics or arthritis drugs may be derived from the Aframomum plant. When you think about it many of our modern day medicines are derived from plants such as aspirin from willow bark, digitalis from foxglove, penicillin from orange mold, codeine and morphine from the poppy, and many more.

So if you plan on cooking something, add some herbs and spices, besides making your food taste better, you never know what health benefits you may be getting from the herbs, spices and food you eat.