Ehuru is a plant popular for its seed, used as nutmeg in many African dishes and for medicinal purposes, mostly related to the stomach; which has raised concern about the relationship between ehuru and pregnancy. Also, the fact that it is used, in traditional medicine, to improve male reproductive function, and directly influences pregnancy, makes it a valid point of concern.
Ehuru goes by different names among the different tribes of Nigeria. It is called ariwo among the Yoruba, Ehi, or Ehuru, among the Igbos, Airama among the Hausas. Its common names include African nutmeg, calabash nutmeg, or Jamaican nutmeg. It is a common substitute for nutmeg but its use has been more common in the African countries of its origin, such as Nigeria, Cameroon, Angola, Ghana, and so on.
In this article, we will talk at length, about the relationship that exists between Ehuru and Pregnancy, highlighting how it can positively or negatively affect fertility, conception, and carrying a pregnancy to term. Does it have pregnancy termination tendencies? We will answer these questions by evaluating the phytochemicals it contains.
Ehuru and its Medicinal Importance
The most commercially important part of Ehuru is its seed as it is important in making spices for many African dishes. However, does the presence of ehuru as a spice in these dishes make them unsafe for pregnant women and their fetuses, raising concern that brought about this discourse?
While many people focus on just the ehuru seed, it has other useful parts, specifically for medicinal purposes – the leaves, fruits, and bark. They are commonly used in traditional medicine to address some health concerns.
The ehuru bark is used to treat stomach aches, hemorrhoids, eye pain, and febrile pain. The fruits and seeds are used to treat headaches and sores. They are also used as insect repellents. However, there is no record of their negative impact on pregnancies.
Contents of Ehuru plant that may Affect Pregnancy
The medicinal importance and application of ehuru are attributed to its phytochemical content and there is a possibility that one or more of them may be detrimental to pregnant women. For this reason, we will delve into what the different medically important parts of ehuru contain.
According to research, Ehuru contains many phenolic compounds, each of which has a different function and effect on the body. These phenolic compounds are mostly found in the bark and seeds of the plant and contribute to the many health benefits of ehuru seed.
Some of the bioactive chemicals in Ehuru include Papain, Curcumin, Gingerol, Caffeic acid, Quercetin, Piperic acid, Kaempferol, Elemicin, Myristicin, Eugenol, and Phenol, among others. They are present in different concentrations and have different retention times in the human body. Of these bioactive chemicals, some of them can affect pregnancy, and they include:
This bioactive chemical is a flavonoid that occurs naturally in plants, one of them being Ehuru. It is somewhat bitter and may be responsible for the slightly bitter flavor Ehuru provides in dishes. It is commonly found in vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, and many more. Other plants that contain this flavonoid include soybeans and moringa, among others.
Kaempferol has been researched as one of the potential cancer treatment options. However, there is a concern as to its suitability for pregnant women since it is a phytoestrogen. It induces the production of estrogen, which is maintained at a low level, compared to progesterone during pregnancy.
Although other health benefits of Kaempferol such as its antioxidant property, ability to help in nerve building and health maintenance may be of advantage to the pregnant woman and her child, it is important to note that it should be consumed in moderation, especially since other spices, such as onions, contain this flavonoid.
Eugenol is a phenol that is commonly found in cloves. It is essential in many health aspects, especially in controlling blood pressure, which is an important thing to note during pregnancy. Its presence in Ehuru helps pregnant women to keep their blood pressure at a healthy level, through its vasorelaxation actions.
Hypertensive disorders during pregnancies are a thing that some pregnant women experience. However, with eugenol, contained in Ehuru, there is a high chance of keeping it in check and reducing mortality due to this condition.
Gingerol is a phytochemical found in Ginger. It has helped many pregnant women overcome the issue of nausea and vomiting, especially in the first trimester of their pregnancy. Gingerol also has antioxidant properties, which help to keep the cells in optimum health.
Despite its usefulness, some experts believe its consumption should be moderated, especially in pregnant women, as it higher concentration of gingerol may increase the risk of miscarriage.
Quercetin as part of the whole foods you consume is encouraged for pregnant women. However, its safety as supplements is not ascertained, yet. Quercetin is present in many vegetables and it helps in the development of the placenta, fetus, and embryo.
Due to its importance, it is advised that pregnant women only stick to quercetin from whole foods, and they should be taken in moderation.
The bioactive chemicals in Ehuru, present in its seeds, leaves, and barks have numerous health benefits; however, some of these phytochemicals can be detrimental to pregnancies if they are consumed in large quantities.
While it is important to eat during pregnancy, the correlation between ehuru and pregnancy begins in how it influences the hormones, especially estrogen, and continues in its effect on hypertension during pregnancy and helps in developing fetuses and placentas.
Ensure that you consume ehuru in moderation as some of its chemical constituents, Gingerol, may increase your risk of miscarriage.
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