The Benefits of Allspice

Close-Up Of Ground Allspice In Measuring Spoon Wooden Table

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In This Article

Allspice comes from the unripe, dried berry of a small tree called Pimento Officinalis or Pimento diocia. It's also known as pimento, Jamaica pepper, myrtle pepper, newspice, pimenta, and clove pepper.

Originally named "pimento", Spanish for pepper, by explorers in the 16th century due to its dark brown, wrinkled skin. The English renamed it allspice because it has hints of pepper, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and juniper.

Used in both sweet and savory dishes, allspice is the main ingredient in Jamaican Jerk sauce, used in stews and desserts in the Middle East, and the key flavoring in liquors Chartreuse and Benedictine.

Allspice has a long history in folk medicine in the Caribbean and Central American. It is brewed into a tea to relieve colds, ease menstrual cramps, and calm an upset stomach. As a balm, allspice is applied to bruises, sore joints, and muscle aches. 

Health Benefits 

Scientific research shows allspice has many medicinal properties. It relieves pain, eases stomach upset, and kills bacteria and fungus. Compounds in allspice are also being investigated for use in the treatment of cancer and hypertension and is used in farming, fishing, and livestock. 

The primary medicinal compounds in allspice include: 

  • Eugenol: Also found in clove oil, it has antiseptic properties and is used as a topical pain reliever.
  • Quercitin: A flavonoid with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, it may help reduce inflammation, kill cancer cells, control blood sugar, and help prevent heart disease.
  • Gallic acid: A phenolic acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties, it is being studied as a possible treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease. 
  • Ericifolin: A polyphenol with antioxidant properties, it is being studied as a possible treatment for prostate cancer.

Possible health benefits for allspice include:

Gas and Bloating

Allspice has carminative properties, which means it can relieve gas, bloating, and stomach upset. Its eugenol may ease diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, bloating, gas, and even constipation. The spice's many antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties that may ease cramps and aid digestion.

Some cultures brew an allspice tea to settle the stomach. Steep a 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice powder in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes and strain. You can drink the tea daily, but limit to one serving a day until you know how it affects your digestive tract. Allspice may interfere with iron and other mineral absorption, so the tea is best sipped between meals.

Aches and Pains

Allspice's anesthetic and analgesic properties can help to ease pain and relax muscles. It can be used topically as a poultice made from the spice or as an essential oil.

To make a poultice (plaster), mix ground allspice with just enough water to make a thick paste. Apply it to the painful area, cover it with a thin piece of gauze (to prevent a mess) and leave it on for about 20 minutes.

As an essential oil, mix 2 to 3 drops with at least 3 tablespoons of a carrier oil (like grapeseed, coconut, or olive oil) and massage into the area. Wash hands thoroughly afterward and take care to not get any oil in your eyes or mucous membranes.

Allspice essential oil can also be diffused into the air, which may ease a headache or sinus pain.

Menopause

Compounds in allspice may relieve menopause symptoms by helping to balance estrogen and progesterone levels. However, the research is limited. Population studies of South and Central American women hypothesize the spice is responsible for cultural differences in menopausal discomfort. 

Laboratory studies suggest methanol extracts from the plant may alter gene expression, boosting estrogen and reducing progesterone levels. Its effectiveness in preventing and treating menopause symptoms, however, have not been studied in humans.

Selection, Preparation & Storage

Allspice is found in the spice aisle of the grocery store and is available as dried berries or as a ground powder. Store allspice in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Allspice berries can be ground in a peppercorn grinder or mortar and pestle, or used whole in recipes. Substitute 6 whole allspice berries for 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of ground allspice; remove berries before serving.

Allspice is also available as an essential oil that can be used aromatically or topically. Allspice oil should not be ingested and it should not be used undiluted on skin or around mucous membranes. Allspice essential oil is available at natural food stores and online. It should be stored in an amber or cobalt bottle in a cooled, dry place.

Possible Side Effects

In a normal serving size, allspice typically does not have any side effect, however, some people may have an allergic reaction to the spice.

Ingesting large amounts of ground allspice, berries, or tea could potentially cause stomach upset. In large doses, allspice may slow blood clotting and should not be used with medications that impact clotting, such as aspirin, Plavix (clopidogrel), heparin, Coumadin (warfarin), Voltaren (diclofenac), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), Fragmin (dalteparin), and Lovenox (enoxaparin).

Allspice essential oil should not be ingested unless under the supervision of a health practitioner as it may result in eugenol poisoning. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, convulsions, and slowing of the central nervous system.​

Topically, allspice essential oil may irritate the skin. Never apply undiluted oil to the skin. Instead, dilute it in a carrier oil (such as grapeseed, coconut, or olive oil) at a rate of one drop per tablespoon.

People with gastric ulcers or ulcerative colitis should use caution with eating allspice as it may exacerbate the conditions.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend allspice as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using allspice for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

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Article Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Zhang L, Lokeshwar BL. Medicinal properties of the Jamaican pepper plant Pimenta dioica and Allspice. Curr Drug Targets. 2012;13(14):1900-6.

  2. Charles DJ. 2012. Antioxidant Properties of Spices, Herbs and Other Sources. Allspice. 145–150. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-4614-4310-0_6

  3. Liu Y, Carver JA, Calabrese AN, Pukala TL. Gallic acid interacts with α-synuclein to prevent the structural collapse necessary for its aggregation. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014;1844(9):1481-5. doi: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2014.04.013

  4. Shamaladevi N, Lyn DA, Shaaban KA, et al. Ericifolin: a novel antitumor compound from allspice that silences androgen receptor in prostate cancer. Carcinogenesis. 2013;34(8):1822-32. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgt123

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