Allspice (Pimenta dioica), also called pimento or Jamaica pepper, is native to Central America, Jamaica, Southern Mexico, West Indies and other warm places in the world. The allspice trees can grow between 30 to 60 feet high with leaves similar to bay leaves and clover. It is classified as an evergreen shrub. Allspice is a member of the natural order Myrtaceae and is a “dioecious” plant, therefore, male and female plants are kept in proximity for them to bear fruit. Once the berries are in their full size, they are collected unripe and are dried in the sun until it turns reddish-brown.
Allspice is known to promote intestinal motility and aids in digestion by increasing the secretions of digestive enzymes in the stomach and intestines. It contains an antiseptic and anesthetic compound called eugenol that is useful for gum and dental problems. Allspice contains important minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, copper and selenium which are important in cellular integrity and metabolism. It is also a good source of vitamin C, niacin, vitamin A, B-6 and riboflavin making it a very powerful antioxidant.
Allspice is also used for its calming and relaxing effect which is very helpful for those who suffer from insomnia. Aside from its antioxidant properties, it also enhances blood circulation and boosts the immune system of the body. The herb is helpful in aiding heavy menstrual periods and is also used as a purgative. It can also be made into a plaster to aid in joint and muscle pains and treat minor wounds.
For many years, allspice has been used traditionally for cough, fever, depression as well as in bacterial and fungal infections. It can be taken as a tea by putting hot water in a teaspoon of dried allspice berries, steep for a few minutes, then enjoy.