encyclopedia

Allspice

Scientific Names:    

Pimenta dioica (L.) Merrill [Fam. Myrtaceae]    
     
Forms:    

Dried and ground berry and volatile oil extract of Pimenta dioica    
     
Traditional Usage:

– Analgesic
– Antibacterial
– Antifungal
– Antioxidant
– Colic, Stomach Upset
– Colds, Flu and Bronchitis
– Corns
– Diarrhea
– Digestive Disorders
– Flatulence
– Heart Health Maintenance
– Indigestion
– Menstrual Health Maintenance
– Neuralgia
– Respiratory Health Maintenance
– Rheumatism
– Vascular Disorders     
             
     
Overview:    

Allspice, Pimenta dioica (L.) Merrill [Fam. Myrtaceae], also known as pimento, Jamaica pepper and clove pepper, is an evergreen tree found in South America, Mexico and the West Indies. The unripe berry, which smells and tastes like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, is used primarily as a food and medicinal flavouring agent. Allspice is used in folk medicine for treating many different conditions including: colic, infantile diarrhea, cholera infantum, bleeding lungs, painful menstruation, chilblains, nausea, chills, flatulence, corns, colds, dyspepsia, neuralgia, and rheumatism. However, there are no clinical studies to back up these claims. The herb is considered to be a stimulant, carminative (for treating gas), anodyne (a pain-relieving medicine milder than an analgesic), and antioxidant, bactericidal, fungicidal, and stomachic. Dr. James Duke in The Green Pharmacy refers to allspice as a tropical herb with a very complex aroma that is useful for treating indigestion. Animal studies with the total aqueous extract of allspice given by intravenous (i.v.) administration have shown that it reduces high vascular pressure (has hypotensive activity) and has a central nervous system (CNS) depressant effect. Interestingly, the hypotensive effect of identical doses (100 mg/kg) of the aqueous extract (95% decrease) was significantly greater (P < 0.05) than the effect of the ethanolic extract (67% decrease). The researchers also noted that there were no significant changes in the heart rate and no abnormalities were observed in the EKG. Another study using intraperitoneal administration of different extracts of allspice to normal and hypertensive rats caused a depression of the central nervous system (CNS) in a dose-dependent manner. Analgesic and hypothermic effects were also observed. Again, the total aqueous extract was more effective than the ethanolic extract. It was noted that the extract caused peritoneal irritation that may only partially explain the depressive effect over the CNS.    
             
     
Active Ingredients:    

Allspice contains: 2-5% essential oil with circa 35% eugenol, 40-45% eugenolmethylether, caryophyllene, (-)-ox-phellandrene, cineole, palmitic acid, fatty oils, resin, sugar, starch, malic acid, calcium oxalate, and tannin. The berry and leaf oils contain, in addition to the above constituents, cymene, carene, limonene, myrcene, ocimenes, pinene, sabinene, terpinenes, terpinolene, thujene, cadinenes, calamene, copaene, curcumene, elemene, gurgunene, humulenes, isocaryophyllene, muurolenes, selinenes, etc. Also, three new galloylglucosides, (4S)-alpha-terpineol 8-O-beta-D-(6-O-galloyl)glucopyranoside (1); (4R)-alpha-terpineol 8-O-beta-D-(6-O-galloyl)gluco-pyranoside (2), and 3-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)propane-1,2-diol 2-O-beta-D-(6-O-galloyl)glucopyranoside (3), were isolated from the berries of Pimenta dioica together with three known compounds, gallic acid (4), pimentol (5), and eugenol 4-O-beta-D-(6-O-galloyl)glucopyranoside (6). (These galloylglucosides (1-3, 5, and 6) showed radical-scavenging activity nearly equivalent to that of gallic acid (4) against 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl radical). [Duke JA. 1992. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 456-457; and Kikuzaki H, Sato A, Mayahara Y, Nakatani N. 2000. Galloylglucosides from berries of Pimenta dioica. J Nat Prod. 2000 Jun; 63(6): 749-52].    
             
     
Suggested Amount:    

Of course, allspice may be used liberally as a culinary spice according to recipe requirements. The dosage to be used for treating digestive and other conditions according to Felter and Lloyd (1898), as per King's American Dispensatory (1983) is as follows:
Powder: 10-30 grains*
Tincture: 1 to 2 fluid drachms*
Infusion: Steep a drachm of the crushed berries in a pint of hot (not boiling) water. May be taken freely.
Oil: Two to five drops daily
(Felter and Lloyd 1898)

Note:  1 minim = 0.059 ml (or about 2 droplets of a low viscosity liquid like water)
           60 minims = 1 fluid drachm (= 3.55156 ml)
           8 drachms = 1 fluid ounce (= 28.4125 ml)
           1 grain (= 64.79891 mg) with 7000 grains = 1 pound
           16 grains = 1 gram
           27.34375 grains = 1 dram (= 1.771845195 g)
           [Anglo-Saxon Weights & Measures]     
             
     
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
             
     
Contraindications:    

None known.    
             
     
Side Effects:    

Direct contact with the skin may cause irritation. Eugenol, the main ingredient of the essential oil of allspice, can be toxic if taken in excessive doses. (Duke 1985)    
             
     
References:     
     
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 14. Rodale Press.
 
Duke JA. 1985. Pimenta dioica L. Myrtaceae Allspice, Jamaca Pepper, Clove Pepper. In Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, p. 371.
 
Felter, H.W. and Lloyd, J.U. 1898. King's American Dispensatory, 18th ed., 3rd revision, reprinted 1983, Eclectic Medical Publications, Portland, OR, 1898, 2 vols.
 
Suarez A, Ulate G, Ciccio JF. Cardiovascular effects of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of Pimenta dioica in Sprague-Dawley rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1997 Jan; 55(2): 107-11.
 
Suarez A, Ulate G, Ciccio JF. Hypotensive action of an aqueous extract of Pimenta dioica  (Myrtaceae) in rats. Rev Biol Trop. 2000 Mar; 48(1): 53-8.