All about Prekekse – Prekese is the local Ghanaian language name for this flowering plant whose fruit is used as soups in many Ghanaian homes while the bark serves as medicinal purposes.
It is mainly composed of flavonoids, tannins, and starch.
Ghana Health News caught up with the Prekese man who is promoting the fruit by making Tea out of it.
The tea can be taken raw or with some sugar and /or sugar and milk to taste.
Ghana Health News met him at the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s exhibition-fair at the Koforidua Jackson Park.
He granted an interview. Click below to listen.
All About Prekese | Description
Aridan is a deciduous tree that sheds its leaves annually and grows approximately 20 to 25 meters in height. It is distinguished by round smallish crown that tends to flatten when old.
Younger trees of Tetrapleura tetraptera have slender bole however, the older ones have low and sharp buttresses.
The grey-brownish bark has a very smooth texture while the leaves are glabrous and hairy in appearance. It bears up to 5-10 pairs of pinnae that measure approximately 5 to 10 cm long with 6 to12 leaves on both sides of the pinna stalk.
The top of the tree can be marginally notched sometimes while the base is basically hairless with slender stems.
Tetrapleura tetraptera bears flowers that are sort of cream and pink in colour but they tend to change to orange colour on maturity.
The flowers are located in the upper leaf axils and are always in pairs with short stamens and slender stalks.
The aridan fruit hangs on stout stalks at the edges of the branches and they are characteristically brownish in colour. The fruit (pod) measures about 15 to 25 cm long and is distinguished by its 4 longitudinal ridges that are slightly curved.
Two of the ridges are woody while the other two contains soft, aromatic and oily pulp. The pod contains tiny, hard seeds that measure approximately 8 mm long.
The fruit is distinguished by its fleshy pulp when fresh but this fleshy pulp tends to be very strong when dried. The inner part of the aridan fruit is characterised by tiny black-brownish seeds.
Aridan is highly sought after due to its high medicinal and aromatic values and as such it is used for several purposes ranging from culinary, healing, therapeutic to cosmetology.
Researchers also reveal that this plant has anti-inflammatory, hypotensive, neuromuscular, cardiovascular, anti-ulcerative, molluscicidal and anti-microbial properties.
Flavonoids have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits which help with heart disease prevention. Other foods rich in flavonoids are apples, tea, onions, and cranberries, wine, citrus fruits, and dark chocolate.
Tannins for some is a bit complex to draw a solid line.
From serving as a defense mechanism against microbial infections, reduce blood pressure to it being carcinogenic.
But overall I will just say that its mechanisms are not fully understood so I will not alarm anyone. And by the way, tannins are also ingredients in coffee, tea, cocoa, wine, chocolate, and beer.
Starch provides energy for your daily activities.
All About Prekese | Uses of Tetrapleura tetraptera
The plant has so many medicinal uses. It is used to manage rheumatism, leprosy, and convulsions.
The fruits are used as flavors for soaps and pomade. These are common in Nigeria.
Some individuals use it to bathe when they feel feverish. This they do by infusing the fruit in water.
Others use the Prekese plant as a form of a purgative.
The Prekese plant also serves as a mosquito repellent.
The popular Prekese fruit is used to prepare soups and mostly made for women during postpartum.
Isn’t it amazing that Africans have this important plant with so many benefits?
It is about time Ghanaians and all of Africa make use of these resources.
All About Prekekse | Spiritual Uses
When dried, broken into pieces and burnt like incense, it is believed to ward off bad and evil spirits. The smell is so strong that any passerby knows that somebody is cooking with or burning prekese. For this reason it is a symbol of power i.e. the king whose power reaches into all abodes in his kingdom even though he’s not physically there.
All About Prekekse | Lactogenic Properties
Prɛkɛsɛ is also mixed with clay in it powdery state and applied to the chest of mothers who have just given birth which makes me suspect it has lactogenic properties. When added to “light pepper soup” for these same nursing mothers it accelerates blood flow helping them to eliminate blood clots. It’s also applied to joints as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Have you also considered a combination of cocoyam leaves (Kontonmire), Prekese and Turkey berries (Kwahu nsusua) in your diet? Abunuabunu or green green?
The immense benefits of Tetrapleura tetraptera popularly called Prekese, cannot be overemphasized considering the outlined benefits
The global food book has the following to say.
Prekekse | Benefits of Tetrapleura Tetraptera (Aridan)
1. Contraceptive Properties
Saponin and ethanol extract from the stem and bark of this plant has an inhibitory effect on luteinizing hormone released by the pituitary gland. This suggests why this plant equally serves as a contraceptive.
2. Management of convulsion
In folk medicine, both the stem, leaves and fruit of the uyayak are used for producing herbal concoction for managing convulsion. Studies reveal that the aqueous extract of this plant exhibits anticonvulsant activities and this confirms it’s inhibitory effects on the central nervous system.
3. Management of Leprosy
Studies reveal that aridan can be used for treating leprosy, which is an infectious disease that affects mainly the skin, nerves and the mucous membranes thereby causing blemishes and lumps on the skin. Severe cases of leprosy can lead to deformities and mutilation.
4. Anti-inflammatory Properties
The extract of this plant is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and this suggests its inhibitory impacts against certain human pathogens. As a result, it can be used for reducing inflammation of the body, arthritic pains and rheumatoid pains.
5. Culinary Purposes
Dried taub fruit is known for its distinguished aromatic and flavorful fragrance and as such used as a spice for flavouring assorted dishes such as meat pepper soup, palm kernel soup (banga soup or ofe akwu), nsala (white soup), fish pepper soup etc. To use this spice, you can either crush it before adding to food or break into smaller portions before adding in the food while cooking.
6. Supports the Cardiovascular System
Aridan supports the cardiovascular system due to its constituents of essential phytochemical and as such can be used for preventing and treating heart diseases.
7. Molluscicidal Properties
Studies reveal that the aqueous extracts from the stalk, leaves, stem, bark and roots of the aridan plant contain molluscicidal properties. This suggests why this plant acts as a pesticide for fighting against molluscs and pests. Aridan is normally used in gardening, planting and agriculture for offering protections and control against gastropod pests especially snails and slugs that feed on/damage crops and other valuable plants in the farmland.
8. Dermatological Care
The fruit can be dried and blended into powdered form for producing dermatological products such as soap. The great attention drawn towards the use of this plant for manufacturing soap is due to its high antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
9. It is worthy to note that the aridan plant helps to promote soap foaming as well as its hardness.
To make soap with aridan, the dried powdered herbs can be combined with shea butter, palm kernel oil or any other bases of choice. Soaps produced with these three key ingredients have superior qualities unlike those with individual base.
10. Treatment of Hypertension
In folk medicine, the stem and bark extracts of taub (Tetrapleura tetraptera) can be used for preventing and treating hypertension. Researchers agree that Tetrapleura tetraptera is effective for preventing high blood pressure and for improving the oxidative position in salt model of hypertension patients.
11. Treatment of Diabetes
The stem and bark extracts of Tetrapleura tetraptera (Taub) can be used for preparing herbal medicines for treating diabetes.
12. Supports the Immune System
Being an excellent source of key vitamins such as potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc, aridan helps to strengthen our immune system.
Iron helps to regenerate lost blood, zinc offers protection against viruses especially those that can cause respiratory tract infections while calcium and potassium helps to manage, prevent and control bones and muscles disorders.
13. Post-partum Care
Aridan pod is traditionally used for preparing special soups for newborn mothers immediately they put to bed in other to avoid post-partum contraction. Although aridan can be used alone for this sort of postnatal soup preparation however, it can be used together with piper guineese, gongronema latifolium and scotch bonnet pepper for superior action. Using this spice for post-partum care is attributed to its high constituents of calcium, iron and potassium, which are very important for new mothers. Furthermore, it helps to restore and replenish lost blood for new mothers and promotes lactation.
14. Wound Healing Properties
Aridan pods contain essential chemical compounds such as flavonoids, triterpenoid glycoside (aridanin) and phenols, which have been reported effective for healing wounds. 14. Anti-oxidizing Properties Taub is an excellent source of antioxidants such as polyphenols, alkaloids, tannins and flavonoids. Antioxidants help to protect our body from oxidative damage by scavenging for free radicals thereby preventing peroxidation. It is important to note that free radicals and reactive oxygen species formed during oxidation process contribute immensely to diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes as well as ageing. Aridan fruit has a remarkable chemodiversity due to its constituents of polyphenols. It also has a strong radical reducing and scavenging abilities.
15. Treatment of Asthma
Traditionally, this plant can be used for treating asthma.
Treatment of Schistosomiasis Studies reveal that aridan can be used for treating schistosomiasis. This is an infection that is also known as snail fever or bilharziasis caused by parasitic flukes of the genus Schistosoma. This infection occurs mainly in the tropical regions and eastern Asia and is mostly transmitted to humans through snails or fecal-contaminated fresh water. Common symptoms of schistosomiasis include anemia, pain, fever and breakdown of the infected organs.
16. Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders
The fruit can be used for treating gastrointestinal disorders such as stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting etc due to its constituents of phytochemicals.
17. Antibacterial Ability
Researchers reveal that water extracts and alcoholic mixture of the aridan fruit can inhibit the growth of Staphylococcus aureus. The presence of glycosides and tannins in ethanolic and water extracts of aridan have been proven effective for inhibiting the growth of bacteria.
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Prekekse | DISCLAIMER
This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your health care provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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