Allspice (Pimenta dioica) is so named because its taste and aroma so closely resemble so many other spices. It’s redolent of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and even a bit of black pepper. The tree it grows on, the pimento, is a large evergreen shrub native to Central American rain forests and the islands of the Caribbean.
The pimento tree’s berries, which look like peppercorns, are what we call allspice. The allspice berries are used either whole in pickling, or ground in baked goods or a variety of Central American dishes. Even though consumed in small quantities, spices like allspice are packed with vitamins, minerals, essential oils, and antioxidant compounds that benefit health. Here are some of these health effects of allspice.
Allspice is one of the family of "warming spices" that includes cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and hot peppers. This rubefacient (warming and soothing) property means that allspice can help lower blood pressure by bringing blood from the center of the body out to the skin, making us feel warmer. This improves circulation and disperses blood better throughout the body.
Allspice has carminative (anti-flatulence) properties. Its many essential oils, including tannins, glycosides, resins, sesquiterpenes, methyleugenol, and eugenol, may improve digestion.
Eugenol, one of the compounds that naturally occurs in allspice, reduces inflammation in the body.
Anesthetic and Antiseptic Effects
The eugenol present in allspice behaves as a mild analgesic, and is sometimes used in dentistry as a local anesthetic. Allspice essential oil also works as an anti-microbial, able to kill bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
Allspice contains high amounts of antioxidants like vitamin C, compounds that attack free radicals in the body and help to slow and reduce the effects of aging.
Vitamins and Minerals
Like most spices, allspice is rich in a wide array of vitamins and minerals. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, and riboflavin. Allspice is also rich in iron, copper, potassium, selenium, manganese, and magnesium. The high quantities of these vitamins and minerals make allspice a powerful antioxidant, as well as assisting the body at a cellular level in producing red blood cells, controlling heart rate, and regulating blood pressure.
Herbs and spices contain loads of essential oils, which has made them popular in folk medicine for centuries. Allspice is no different, with compounds that affect the heart and digestive system as well as having antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anesthetic properties. The health effects of allspice, consumed in moderation, are positive and body-wide.
Medicinal Spices Exhibit – UCLA Biomedical Library: https://unitproj.library.ucla.edu/biomed/spice/index.cfm?displayID=1
The Role of Herbs and Spices in Cancer Prevention: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2771684/
Spice up your health in 2007 with these savory tips (UMHS Press Release): https://www.med.umich.edu/opm/newspage/2007/hmspice.htm