Ready to snuggle up and get warm with the small but mighty allspice? Allspice, nature's example of mighty things coming in small packages. This tropical spice exudes energy and abundance. Allspice loves all the things. It smells of clove, cinnamon, and all things spicy. Its warming nature is a boon during the colder seasons. Allspice is about comfort, nurturing, and warmth. Plus allspice has some amazing benefits for your body.
Allspice is the dried unripe berry of the evergreen Pimenta dioica. This mid canopy tree can grow from 20-40 feet in height. Allspice produces showy white blooms that produce the drupe type fruit. The unripened fruit is the spice we use, or at least should, in our kitchen. More on that later. You can find allspice in its native West Indies, Greater Antilles, southern Mexico, and Central America. Sometimes allspice is grown to provide shade for coffee trees. Allspice is a tropical plant and does not fare too well outside of hardy zones 10-12.
Allspice can be grown outdoors in the warm and humid tropics and subtropics. Once established, they are reasonably drought tolerant. Allspice likes its heat though. It will not survive if the temperatures drop below about 28 degrees. If you live in cooler climates, however, there is good news. Allspice does adapt well to living in a container. It can be kept as a houseplant or in a greenhouse.
*The name allspice was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who valued it as a spice that combined the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove.
*At the time allspice was encountered by Christopher Columbus it was only found on the island of Jamaica.
*At one time the Jamaican government wanted to restrict trade, but birds ate the fruits and took the seeds with them, putting the kibosh on that plan.
*The Mayan Indians used Allspice to embalm the bodies of their leaders.
*The Arawaks used allspice to help cure meat. Meat cured with allspice was called boucans. Later settlers who cured meat this way became known as buccaneers, which eventually came to be the word ‘buccaneers’.
*Allspice is found both in jerk seasoning and Bay Rum fragrance.
Allspice is a dioecious plant. How’s that for your word for the day? Dioecious means the plant has a male and a female variety. Practically speaking this means you will need one of each to produce more. Also it’s important to note that only the females will produce berries. Allspice will produce from seed, but they go dormant rather quickly. Allspice can also be reproduced through cuttings.
This tree is not a fast grower, however. It will take 3-5 years before it will produce fruit. Once established allspice will flower during the summer from June to August. Shortly after the flowers, come the fruits. If you want to harvest them for spice, get them while they’re still green and unripe. If you wait too long most of the aromatic oils evaporate. While the male plants do not produce fruits, the leaves can also be harvested and used. They are not as aromatic as the fruit, but can do in a pinch. The leaves are similar to bay leaves and can be used similarly.
As An Herb
Once Columbus “discovered” allspice, it certainly made its way around the world. Allspice is a very important component in Caribbean, Mexican, Portuguese, English, Polish ,and Middle Eastern cuisine. Allspice is even responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive flavor. People also use the leaves and wood for smoking meats.
As a food allspice contains many minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Manganese, calcium, iron, copper, quercetin, vitamin B5, and gallic acid. Allspice also, uniquiquely, produces ericifolin which is showing powerful anti-tumor properties, especially in cases of prostate cancer. As a food allspice helps reduce inflammation and nausea.
Allspice Essential Oil Info
Allspice gets its name from its fragrance. No one could figure out if it smelled more like cinnamon, clove, or nutmeg. In a moment of pure creativity they called it allspice. It has a warm, spicy scent. The reason it smells so similar to these other oils is the similar chemical components. This also means that allspice has similar properties to cinnamon and clove oils. Allspice is a powerful anti inflammatory and analgesic that can be used to help alleviate stiffness and cramping in muscles. It is also a tonic for the digestive system that can help with indigestion and nausea.
An important note about allspice essential oil. It is potent, like very potent. As with all essential oils, you never ever want to use it undiluted. Allspice is so powerful you don’t want to use it by itself either. It is a wonderful addition to blends, but not recommended to use, even diluted, on its own.
Properties of Allspice Essential Oil:
Anesthetic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, carminative, muscle relaxant, rubefacient, stimulant and tonic.
Allspice’s antiseptic and stimulant properties combine for an impressive respiratory tonic. It is a good addition to blends to speed recovery from respiratory infections such as bronchitis, respiratory viruses, colds, coughs, and viral infections.
Allspice's powerful anti-inflammatory, relaxant, rubefacient, and analgesic properties make it a wonderful addition to an aches and pains blend. It will help ease muscle aches and pains. It will also ease the symptoms of arthritis and rheumatism.
Allspice, just like its cousin clove, is a champion of the digestive system. It is such a strong analgesic and antimicrobial, it can be used to ease the pain of dental infections. It’s carminative property will ease abdominal cramps, gas, indigestion, and nausea.
When I think of fall, and the impending cooler weather, I always think of allspice. It has a relaxing, warming nature that just uplifts and comforts the spirit. Allspice has antidepressant properties , reducing stress, and easing emotional exhaustion. Allspice eases you into a place you can weed through the BS life can bring you. Allspice is a very good tool to use during times of trial and stress.
Allspice is good in a meditation blend. Its warming nature helps us focus on healing, kindness, prosperity, and success. Allspice is both an attracting and protecting plant. No wonder so many cultures want it in their diets. The dried berries, oil, or allspice incense can be burned or added sachets for attracting the things you want. Ya know, the good old love, luck, money type stuff.
Allspice gives us willpower, courage, and energy. It is a good tool to use while trying to do things like break bad habits.
Precautions should only be used in low dilutions, as it is found to irritate the mucus membrane and to cause dermal irritation. Avoid use during pregnancy. Use in low dilutions.
Allspice is a little all over the place and a little certainly goes a very long way. It is a powerful addition to blends seeking respite from . . well, all the things. Inflammation, feelings of being overwhelmed, change, gas, depression. Yup, allspice has you covered. It is a potent potion, however and should be used sparingly and as a booster to other oils. Just as with the spice, it’s wonderful in a blend. You probably wouldn’t like it as a main course. Allspice has been used forever, and since Columbus brought it around, all over the world. If you’ve never played around with it, try it out.
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If you want to try allspice but are a little unsure, it’s one of the components in our Maman Brigitte blend. Its protective, warming, and comforting properties made it a no brainer addition.