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Benefits of Aframomum Melegueta for Bodybuilding

When it comes to building slabs of muscle and bar bending strength, you need to attack your bodybuilding game from all angles.

It’s not just about the training, or even the diet. Getting the right supplement makes all the difference.

Many men choose to use a natural testosterone booster to improve their hormones, muscle mass and power. A few choose to go with lesser known herbs such as Aframomum melegueta.

But could this traditional African herb really be the key to bodybuilding success?

Or will it leave you feeling flat and disappointed?

In this article we take a look at the current research and tell you everything you need to know.

What is Aframomum melegueta?

Otherwise known as grains of paradise or alligator pepper, this African spice comes from the same family as ginger.

As a perennial herb that flourishes in hot climates, Aframomum melegueta is native to the West of Africa, but also a popular crop in areas of Ethiopia too.

It is characterized by bright purple flowers that have orange-pink tips. As the leaves mature they develop into pods containing brown-red colored seeds.

The term ‘grains of paradise’ comes from the fact that these floral and aromatic seeds are grain like in size. They have a flavor that is said to be similar to coriander, cardamom and are used commonly in traditional cooking such as in curries.

Bioactive nutrient content of Aframomum melegueta

As a calorie free food, grains of paradise doesn’t contain carbs, fat or protein. It does however contain a high amount of sodium and a slight quantity of calcium.

When it comes to a full and comprehensive break down on the bioactive compounds in grains of paradise, evidence is limited and only a few compounds have been isolated from the seed.

However, analysis has shown that natural sources (not necessarily in supplement form) contain the following antioxidant polyphenols:

  • Methyl-6-gingerol
  • 6-shagol
  • 6-paradol
  • 6-Gingeredione

Aframomum Melegueta Bodybuilding Use

Although testosterone boosters and muscle building supplements tend to opt for well-researched and reliable nutrients such as D-aspartic acid and vitamin D3, some manufacturers still choose to include grains of paradise in their products.

It is claimed that the herb may help your bodybuilding goals in three distinct ways:

  • Decrease body fat
  • Build muscle and helps with weight gain
  • Directly boost testosterone

Traditionally, Aframomum melegueta has always been used as an alternative medicine to improve libido, testosterone levels and sexual reproduction. This is more than likely why it’s added to some muscle building supplements.

As you’ll know though from reading some of our previous articles, traditional medicine isn’t researched based and is often built on folklore and anecdotes rather than actual science.

Aframomum melegueta seeds in a brown ceramic bowl

Aframomum Melegueta Bodybuilding – Is There a Connection?

The first thing to mention here is that when it comes to Aframomum melegueta bodybuilding research, the studies are extremely limited.

As with many traditional herbs and medicines, most of the results come from years and years of stories and tales rather than peer reviewed, valid research.

That said, here are the studies you need to know about before using this herb for bodybuilding…

Aframomum Melegueta increases testosterone in rats… but at a cost

A study from the low impact online journal Androligia [1] found that various high doses of Fagara tessmannii (a herb with very similar chemical constituents to Aframomum Melegueta) was able to increase testosterone levels after 8 days.

However, the 115-230 mg per kilogram of body weight supplement also led to undesired side effects too. It negatively affected reproductive organ activity and led to shrinking of testicular tissue.

It also had no positive effect on sperm count or prostate efficiency either.

  • The Result: Animal study results aren’t always transferable to humans, so it makes it difficult to say whether Aframomum melegueta would be a good testosterone booster without human research to go with it.

Aframomum melegueta leads to modest fat loss in men… but only when combined with cold therapy

One of the biggest Aframomum melegueta bodybuilding links is how it might be related to fat loss.

But the only research paper looking at grains of paradise and fat loss was published in the British Journal of Nutrition back in 2013 [2]. There haven’t been anymore since.

In the study, a small sample of 19 men were exposed to cold temperatures for 2 hours to activate their fat burning brown adipose tissue – a type of fatty tissue in the body that has been found to speed up fat loss when switched on.

The men were also asked to take a 40 mg grains of paradise supplement for 4 weeks prior to the cold therapy intervention.

Some of the men found that taking the supplement helped to increase their metabolic rate slightly. Not by a huge amount though, but enough to see a significant change.

The problem is though that it’s difficult to attribute Aframomum melegueta as being the main driver of fat loss in this study. Cold therapy (which is a well documented fat loss technique) was the primary intervention used in the research.

The use of a supplement was only a secondary measure.

  • The Result: The increase in metabolic rate wasn’t seen by taking grains of paradise alone, only when combined with cold therapy. 

Aframomum Melegueta Bodybuilding – Does This Herb Build Muscle?

The short answer to this is that no one knows becuase it’s never been tested.

It’s such an under-researched herb that there are no clinical trials that have looked directly at the effects of this pungent spice on muscle cross-sectional area, or even its effects on strength.

Aframomum melegueta has been added to some lesser-known testosterone booster supplements based on limited research relating to fat loss – and of course the one animal study that showed that it elevated testosterone.

If anything, it shows a lack of real knowledge from the manufacturers that choose to add it to their products.

Some manufacturers have even gone as far as to suggest that grains of paradise supplements can help you lose body fat while building muscle. However, there is absolutely no evidence that this is the case.

Muscular bodybuilder posing over black background

Summary – Aframomum Melegueta for Bodybuilding

There is currently no evidence relating Aframomum melegueta bodybuilding benefits. It doesn’t increase either testosterone or direct muscle building.

And when it comes to fat loss, grains of paradise might show some promise, but is very understudied. T

The current research is limited to either animal studies or low population groups. Some is confounded with the use of other interventions in the same study as.

Researchers have only really just started looking at the effects of the herb in clinical trials. Until more robust research is made available we suggest sticking to more reliable spices for your testosterone boosting and muscle building goals.


  1. Suqita, J et al. Grains of paradise (Aframomum melegueta) extract activates brown adipose tissue and increases whole-body energy expenditure in men. Br J Nutr. 2013; 110(4): 733-8
  2. Massoma Lembè, D et al. Effect of the ethanolic extract from Fagara tessmannii on testicular function, sex reproductive organs and hormone level in adult male rats. Andrologia. 2011; 43(2): 139-144