Allspice (Pimenta officinalis/Pimenta dioica) comes from an evergreen tree that is wild and indigenous to the rainforests of South and Central America. It was discovered by Columbus in 1494 when he was searching for new sources of black pepper.
The aroma of this spice names it; a warm and zesty combination of clove, ginger, pepper and nutmeg. Allspice is traditionally dried in the sun and resembles large peppercorns.
Allspice is more than a culinary gem, it contains a number of medicinal properties that should not be overlooked. About 4% of allspice is oil and contains a compound called eugenol which has both antiseptic pain relieving properties and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is also a great source of vitamin A, B-6, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C. The spice also contains important minerals such as iron, potassium, manganese, copper, selenium and magnesium.
“Allspice owes its medicinal actions to eugenol, a chemical constituent of its oil,” says Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D., director of the American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, and author of The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine. “Eugenol promotes digestion by enhancing the activity of the digestive enzyme trypsin. It’s also an effective pain reliever and anesthetic.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, allspice is considered safe. If you have a toothache you can put a drop of oil directly on your tooth using a cotton swab. Just be very careful not to swallow the oil. For muscle pain, make a poultice from ground allspice and water (make a thick clay-like mixture) and apply it directly to the sore spot. Use a gauze pad to keep the mixture on.
If you have eczema or other skin conditions, you will want to avoid putting the spice directly on your skin. For gas or bloating you can use one to two teaspoons of allspice powder per cup of boiling water. Steep the tea for about 20 minutes and strain. Drink up to 3 cups per day.
How to Buy and Store Allspice
It is best to buy whole allspice instead of the pre-ground variety. It tends to be purer and has better flavor retention. Look for corns that are heavy, round and rather compact. You can store them at room temperature for many years and they can be easily ground with a coffee grinder. Store your ground allspice in the fridge and use as soon as possible.
While most allspice is grown, like other spices, overseas, the best all spice comes from Jamaica where the berry tree flourishes. Be sure to purchase only organic allspice.
-The Alternative Daily