All-Healing Power of Allspice
Ellen Kamhi, Ph.D. R.N. THE NATURAL NURSE
Allspice is a spice made from the dried fruit
before it ripens that grows on the Jamaican Pimento
tree (Pimenta dioica) which grows in tropical areas
of the world. The tree is a member of the Myrtacea
family, and is a cousin of Cloves, Eucalyptus and
The name "Allspice" began to appear in English literature
in 1621. The leaves, berries and bark are also
used for medicine as well as food preparation. Fresh
leaves are simmered in food to impart flavor. Leaves
and bark are smoked as part of the well-known
Jamaican "beef jerky." In the middle east, Allspice is
added to soups and stews. It's commonly used in sausages around the
world, and is often added to BBQ sauce.
This plant is mainly just used as a stand-alone spice which is prepared
from the dried fruit. Allspice is one of the most popular herbs
around the world, and tastes exactly as its name states: like a mixture of
all spices. Allspice is known by many other names, including Kurundo,
Jamaican pepper, and Newspice. Most agree that the unique flavor is a
blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The Bush Doctors in Islands such
as Jamaica call the herb pimento or 'spice', where it is used for its unique
flavor, and also as a popular folk remedy.
Allspice has a complex mixture of naturally occurring constituents
that include several categories of pain-relieving substances, such as anesthetics
and analgesics. Anesthetics differ from analgesics; anesthetics
produce numbness by actually blocking pain in nerve fibers, while analgesics
help to relieve inflammation. One of the most important medicinal
applications of allspice is its use as an herbal analgesic. The oil is often
rubbed into the temples for headaches.
Bush doctors and traditional healers use it as part of an analgesic
joint rub, which is massaged into painful joints and sinews. Many people
report lasting relief. It is also mixed with wax or lotion and smoothed on
the skin, causing rapid diaphoresis (sweating). This kind of application
can break a fever associated with a cold or flu.
In addition, native healers prepare an infusion(tea) with allspice
and other herbs, to be consumed piping hot. This promotes rapid
diaphoresis and detoxification via the skin. The oil contained in allspice
is often used as an oral anesthetic. When placed anywhere in the mouth,
allspice will quickly produce numbing relief from toothaches, mouth, or
gum pains. You can reapply to the afflicted area as needed. The active
numbing ingredient is Eugenol, found in Allspice berries at a concentration
of 95%! Many over the counter and oral preparations used in Dentistry
today still contain Eugenol. Eugenol is a phenolic volatile oil with powerful
antiseptic properties. It has been demonstrated to be antifungal, antibacterial,
and antiviral on a host of pathological microorganisms. These
qualities have helped Allspice to continue to be useful in modern day dentistry.
It numbs pain and kills microbes simultaneous which is perfect!
Many of the "Roots doctors" in tropical areas, use pimento in an
herbal 'Bush bath'. A large outdoor tub is usually filled to capacity with
the herbs, and hot water is added. A person then soaks in the tub, now
filled with a powerful infusion. These baths have been demonstrated to be
therapeutic for myalgia, arthralgia, fatigue, and chronic skin ailments,
eczema and external infestations of lice and scabies. The volatile oils
inhaled while bathing are antiseptic for the lungs and bronchi, and help in
loosening and coughing up congestion.
Even if you are not in the bush, a patient with upper respiratory
afflictions can benefit greatly by making a 'steam tent' and adding volatile
oils to it. The use of allspice for dysentery and parasites highlights another
important use of the plant, due to the presence of antimicrobial substances
in the plant as well as large amounts of tannins, which act as an
astringent, absorbing extra fluid from the bowels.
There is a commercially available liqueur, called Pimento dram,
made from allspice, which some people use for headaches and stomach distress.
Its reputation as a carminative (intestinal gas-reducing medicine,
reducing gripe or colic) and as a smooth muscle relaxant may indicate why
allspice is also used for dysmenorrhea (painful menstrual cramps) . So, the
next time you need an ALL PURPOSE remedy, reach for the Jamaican ALLSPICE.
You'll find it, as you reach into, The Natural Medicine Chest.
Ellen Kamhi PhD RN, author of "The Natural Guide to Great Sex,"
has been involved in natural health care for over 4 decades. She can be heard
on WUSB, 90.1 fm Friday, 6 pm, WHPC 90.3 pm Wed 12 noon and on
Progressive Radio Network. She answers consumer questions at
www.naturesanswer.com, and has a private practice on Long Island. For
more info, www.naturalnurse.com 800-829-0918.