Allspice (Duo Xiang Guo)
Botanical Name: Pimenta dioica
Widely used in Mexican and Central American cuisines, allspice is a dried “unripe” fruit from the pimento tree that is known for its pain relieving, mood enhancing, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a excellent herb for improving digestion and increasing circulation.
Below is an overview of Allspice (Duo Xiang Guo), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Allspice (Duo Xiang Guo).
Western Name: Allspice
Also Known As: Jamaican Pepper, Pimento, Pimenta, Newspice, Myrtle Pepper, Clove pepper
Organs/Systems: Digestive, Cardiovascular, Teeth, Nervous
Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Rubefacient, Carminative, Antiflatulent, Aromatic, Stomachic, Anesthetic, Antioxidant, Analgesic, Antibacterial, Antifungal, Antimicrobial, Calming, mIld stimulant. Flatulence, regulates bowels, gum and tooth aches, regulates blood pressure, supports cellular metabolism, supports immunity, nausea, stomach cramping, poor appetite, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, heavy menstrual bleeding, fatigue, yeast infections, fungal infections, diabetes, pain caused by bruises, injury, post surgery aches and arthritis. The essential oil is used to calm the nervous system, treat hysteria, depression, convulsions and nervous neuralgias.
Pin Yin: Duo Xiang Guo
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Small Intestines, Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine
Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Promotes Digestion: nausea, digestive issues, diarrhea, constipation. Moves Blood: painful menstrual cramps, stuck feeling in the chest, painful joints, arthritis.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Dried Berries, Leaves, Essential Oil extracted from the Leaves
Flavors/Temps: Spicy, Pungent, Aromatic, Warming to Hot
Caution: Considered safe, but do be careful of not overusing if you are already suffering from gastric ulcers or ulcerative colitis.
History/Folklore: Native to the Caribbean, Southern Mexico and Central America, it was brought to Europe in the 16th century by the explorer Christopher Columbus from his voyage to the island of Jamaica.
Allspice boosts the immune system, aids digestion, supports healthy heart function, improves blood circulation and provides relief from pain due to arthritis, gout, hemorrhoids and general muscle aches. It has been used for its pain relieving properties post surgery and in case of injury. Also used externally, the herb’s warming effects relieve chest infections, arthritis and rheumatism, bruises, and muscle aches and pains.
New research confirms that a traditional preparation of allspice oil, garlic extraction and oregano helps combat E.coli, Salmonella and L. monoctyogene infections. When applied to certain foods allspice helps neutralize bacteria levels before they can enter your system and cause harm.
The combination of eugenol, quercetin, tannins and other chemical compounds give allspice potent antioxidant properties. These properties are further enhanced by the high levels of vitamin C and A also present in allspice.
The high levels of copper and iron help boost circulation as the rubefacient properties help to warm the body, which also increases natural circulation. Allspices potassium content supports heart health, lowering the chances of atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
The unripe green berries (pimento corns) are picked from the pimento trees when they reach full size. Ripe berries are also cultivated. Both the ripe and unripe berries are then placed in the sun to be thoroughly dried. They can then be powdered or used for their essential oil. The dried shriveled berries look like brown peppercorns. Unlike peppercorns, which contain only one seed, allspice contains two seed. The herb’s aroma and taste resembles a mixture of nutmeg, black-pepper, cloves and cinnamon which led to it being named “allspice.” The name “pimento” derived from the Spanish word, “pimenta” for peppercorn as they mistakenly thought the fruit was a pepper.
The essential oil made from allspice is a tonic for the nervous system and has been used to treat nervous exhaustion, hysteria, neuralgias and convulsions.
Allspice has also been used as an ingredient in deodorants and toothpastes.
The outer coat of the berries contains the highest concentration of the medicinally important compounds. The pimento corns can be stored at room temperature for many months and milled as needed. Once powdered, allspice needs to be refrigerated in airtight containers to maintain the effectiveness associated with the spices essential oils which evaporate easily upon being ground and powdered.
The fresh dried leaves, called “West Indian Bay Leaf” in the Caribbean, are used similarly to the bay leaves they resemble in texture. Similarly to bay leaves, they are infused in soups and stews and then removed before serving. The leaves are also used for making jerky.
Important to Caribbean cuisine allspice berries and leaves are used in moles, pickling, sausage, jerky seasoning (where even the wood is used for smoking the meat) and in curry powders. In the United States the herb is mostly associated with desserts and as a secret ingredient for use in chili. The British also use the spice as an ingredient in cakes.
In the 1800’s, the wood was used to make walking sticks and umbrellas which led to over-harvesting and almost extinction. The leaves and wood have often been used to smoke meats.
There are several unrelated shrubs called “Carolina allspice” (Calycanthus floridus), Japanese allspice/La Mei Hua” (Chimonanthus praecox) or “wild allspice” (Lindera benzoin) and “costmary” (Tanacetum balsamita) which is sometimes commonly called allspice. All of these are different plants and not allspice (Pimenta dioica).
Eugenol, Quercetin, Tannins, Essential oils, Antioxidants, Essential oils (including: Caryophyllene, Methyl eugenol, Glycosides, Tannins, Quercetin, Resin, Sesquiterpenes), Terpenes, Potassium, Manganese, Iron, Copper, Selenium, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin A, C, B6, Riboflavin, Niacin.
Calcium, Manganese, Iron, and Magnesium
Allspice is high in calcium (66% of daily requirement), manganese (147% of daily requirement), iron (39% of daily requirement) and magnesium (34% of daily requirement).
There are only five calories in a single teaspoon of allspice.
The phenol eugenol in allspice is the active constituent used by dentists as an antiseptic and local anesthetic for teeth.
References: For a complete list of references please visit our References and Resources page.
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