Spices are just as important as the salt is to a meal. They are the taste of every meal. But more importantly, spices are organic substances, unlike the salt, which is inorganic.
Being organic, spices contain many important molecules which the body needs to build cells, repair worn out tissues as well as synthesize other essential chemicals such as enzymes and hormones. As such spices not only add tastes to our meals but also provide our body with lots of essential materials to work with and replenish its used molecules.
Of the many known spices around the world, one vibrant spice which is often utilized in our daily meals is the Piper Guineese popularly known as Uziza or the Guinean pepper in Nigeria and across West Africa, where it grows abundantly. It is also called Benin pepper, kukauabe, false cubeb, Ashanti pepper, and Guinea cubeb in different parts of West Africa.
Uziza is a plant whose fruits (which most people refer to as uziza seeds), and leaves can be used to spice a meal. Uziza leaves has a peppery taste, are green when fresh and dark green when dried. The leaves can be used when fresh to prepare any meal by washing and shredding it first and then adding it to the food about 15 minutes before bringing it down from the fire or dried, grounded and then added to the meal. The fruit can also be used similarly as every other spice is used to prepare a meal. Uziza seed is very similar to black pepper.
The use of Uziza in meals provides tremendous health benefits, whether it’s the uziza leaves or uziza seed. Below we have outlined some of the reasons why you should consider adding Uziza to your meals as often as you can. In this informative article, you will learn about the nutritional contents and health benefits of uziza.
Nutritional Content of Uziza
Uziza leaves contain:
- Dietary fiber
- Essential oils
While the fruit itself contains 5–8% of the chemical piperine, which gives them their flavoring taste. They also have large amounts of beta-caryophyllene, which is an anti-inflammatory agent. It also contains notable amounts ofof myristicin, elemicin, safrole, and dillapiol, as well as a little amount of apiole. 
Health benefits of Uziza
We are going to be discussing the health benefits of uziza leaves and the fruits. For some reason, most Nigerians refer to the actual Piper guineense fruit as Uziza seeds. So, the plant is uziza, and it has leaves (uziza leaves) and fruits (which some call uziza seed and which is the spice). So let’s proceed with the uziza’s health benefits.
1. Relieves cough
Spices generally can clear the throat and cause a runny nose. This ability is common to every spice.
When you have a cough or are finding it difficult to breathe due to influenza flu, you can quickly clear the mucus out of the way by using Uziza pepper.
To do this, you’ll need to get some Uziza leaves, whether fresh or dried and grounded and put them in a clean bowl. Add some clean boiled water to the vegetable and allow to stand for at least ten minutes. 
Sieve the mixture and drink the filtrate. The spicy quality, coupled with the warm water, will help clear your cough as well as lubricate your throat for easy breathing.
2. Prevents constipation
When a person finds it difficult to have bowel movements for a few days, the problem is called constipation.
Most times, constipation is caused by the absence of roughages in our food. Roughages are dietary fiber. These fibers help in promoting active bowel movements as such are essential for preventing constipation.
Interestingly, Uziza is quite rich in dietary fiber. By adding Uziza to your meal always, you not only make sure you consume the right amount of roughages but also keep constipation at bay. Unfortunately, Uziza cannot be used to treat constipation; it can only be used to prevent it from ever occurring.
3. Prevents cancer
Free radicals are the primary cause of cancerous growths in the human tissues. By consuming anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidants regularly, the free radicals will be neutralized, and the chances of your body developing cancerous cells will be significantly reduced.
Uziza contains a substance called flavonoid; a powerful anti-oxidant which can help neutralize free radicals in the body. 
4. Treats diarrhea
Uziza leaves come with powerful antibacterial minerals which are useful in fighting diarrhea-causing micro-organisms in the intestine. As such, adding Uziza spice to your meal can serve as an excellent preventive measure against diarrhea. If you already have diarrhea, you can also increase your intake of Uziza leaves in combination with lots of water to keep you hydrated.
5. Improves fertility
Uziza is used in many local herbal medicines to treat infertility. It is taken in combination with honey to address the problem of infertility in women and in men to improve low sperm counts. Thus, just like one of the health benefits of black pepper, uziza boosts fertility in men. 
However a study in Cameroon on the Effect of the aqueous extract of dry fruits of Piper guineense on the reproductive function of adult male rats, found out that it boosted male reproduction function after 8 days of treatment, but started showing adverse effects after 55 days of treatment. So long term or prolonged use of uziza might not be good for male fertility. 
In the eastern part of Nigeria, the leaves are used by local midwives to increase contraction rate of the uterine walls during childbirth.
6. Remedy for stomach ache
Being a good source of roughages, Uziza can help remedy stomachaches and bring about relieve from menstrual cramps.
It could be consumed whole or added to hot water just as the case for the treatment of cough.
Other significant health benefits of Uziza
Other health benefits of Uziza pepper are the use in the treatment of rheumatism, prevention of diabetes, prevention of hypertension, and improvement of appetite.
Uziza leaves can also be used to keep mosquitos away from home. In some local areas, people sleep with Uziza leafs close to their bed. This is because the leafs produce a scent that keeps mosquitoes away. Many insecticides are also based on compounds extracted from the leaves.
Uziza and pregnancy
Many people have been asking if uziza leaves or seeds can affect pregnancy. Well, there is no direct link or medical evidence that suggests that uziza affects pregnancy. However, pregnant women are advised to avoid too much peppers or consuming spicy food during pregnancy.
There’s also no medical evidence that says that uziza and uda spice is a contraceptive or can cause miscarriage.
Uziza is a plant whose leaves and seeds can be used as a spice in many cuisines. They have a lot of medicinal uses and health benefits. You can enjoy this plant by preparing uziza soup with the leaves or uziza and utazi soup. You can also make use of the seeds as your spice when preparing you healthy Nigerian meals.