Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, is actually a dried „unripe” fruit obtained from an evergreen tropical shrub – Pimenta dioica, belonging to the Myrtaceae family (includes over 5,650 species), that grows between 22 – 43 feet high on average.
Also known as myrtle pepper, pepper, newspice, Turkish Yenibahar, English pepper or pimenta, the spice was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavor of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.
Pimenta dioica is native to South America and the West Indies, and exclusive to the Western hemisphere, but nowadays most of the world’s Jamaica pepper actually comes from Jamaica. Other suppliers are Guatemala, Mexico, and Honduras.
The berries, leaves, and oil are used not only for health and medicinal purposes, but also for spices, flavoring, and fragrance.
Its essential oil, called eugenol, has been in therapeutic use in dentistry as a local anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gum. It is also a compound in liquors in many Caribbean countries. For instance, a local drink known as Jamaican dram, is made from it.
The spice is usually included in marinades and sauces and is also a common component in several mulling, as well as pickling spice blends. As for vegetables, it works well with squash, beets, and other root vegetables, with Brussels sprouts, cabbage and other members of the cabbage family, and with nightshades like tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, spinach, and eggplant.
Allspice health benefits and medicinal properties
It has many similar effects on the body as other spices, such as ginger and cinnamon. It has a warming effect on the body with beneficial effects for digestion. Like cloves, this herb can act as a mild muscular anesthetic.
Antioxidant properties – it is an important source of minerals, like magnesium, selenium, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc and manganese, and vitamins A, B2, B3, B6 and C.
Cancer prevention – this spice contains essential oils such as eugenol, a phenylpropanoids class of chemical substance, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrances to this spice. It also contains methyleugenol, caryophyllene, tannins, glycosides, quercetin, resin and sesquiterpenes. At the processing units, these volatile essential oils are obtained through distillation process using this spice corn. A study conducted by Lei Zhang and Bal L. Lokeshwar about the medicinal properties of the spice concluded that several active compounds, like quercetin (a flavonoid), gallic acid and ericifolin show both in vivo and in vitro antitumor and antiproliferative activities.
Helps with digestion – it is utilized like a carminative as well as digestive. The spice helps with digestion of food simply by growing motility of gastrointestinal tracts and stimulating intestinal secretions. In addition, pimenta is commonly used for dealing with unwanted gas. To deal with flatulence or to reduce your soreness, mix just a little sugar along with 2 teaspoons of allspice oil.
Fights infections – Vitamin C is a powerful natural water-soluble antioxidant that helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in the body. The mineral manganese can also boost your antioxidant defenses. For instance, some enzymes disarm free radicals produced within the mitochondria (power plants of the cell, surrounded by 2 membranes, having their own genome), which require manganese.
Allspice side effects
Excessive consumption of pimenta can cause allergic reactions in hypersensitive peoples, vomiting, nausea, and convulsions. It is safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women in food amounts. But larger medicinal amounts should be avoided. Also, it’s contraindicated for those with chronic gastrointestinal conditions such as reflux disease, spastic colitis, duodenal ulcers, diverticulitis, disarticulates and ulcerative colitis.