Herb of the Week – Allspice November 17, 2014 20:36

      

Allspice, used as a spice and medicinal herb, is the dried, unripe berry or fruit of the evergreen pimento tree. Other common names include: Jamaican pepper, pimento, pimenta, clove pepper, myrtle pepper, and newspice.The tree grows 22 to 43 feet high on average, but is slow growing. Its leaves are leathery, glossy, and elliptical-shaped. The tree blooms with small white flowers in the spring and fall, turning to clusters of brownish-green berries in the fall. The tree is cultivated in tropical regions, and is native to southern Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. 

Allspice contains a chemical compound called eugenol that is known to be antiseptic and anesthetic. Allspice is also carminative, antidiarrheal, aromatic, a digestive stimulant and tonic, analgesic, and antidontalgic. It also has antifungal, nervous system stimulant, antidepressant, aphrodisiac, and antioxidant properties. It is most extensively used to treat digestive ailments and as a topical pain reliever. Allspice was used medicinally in the 1800s if not before, and could be found in the British Pharmacopeia of 1898. 

Allspice is commonly made into an infusion (1-2 teaspoons of Allspice powder to 1 cup of boiling water) for internal ailments, a poultice for topical application for pain relief, or taken as a supplement in capsule form. 

The use of herbs is a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating disease. Herbs, however, can trigger side effects and may interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, under the supervision of a health care provider. 

Allspice may slow blood clotting. Therefore, it is not recommended to take Allspice if you are going into surgery or taking medication that slows blood clotting. Allspice is safe for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding in food amounts, but it is not recommended to take Allspice in medicinal quantities. 

 

Fact Breakdown:

Latin Name: Pimenta dioica

Medicinal Actions: Carminative, anitdiarrheal, rubefacient, aromatic, digestive stimulant, digestive tonic, antioxidant, antiseptic, anesthetic, analgesic, antidontalgic, antifungal, nervous system stimulant, antidepressant, aphrodisiac, tonic

Indications: Flatulence, stomach ache, colic, diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, dyspepsia, poor appetite, fatigue, nervous exhaustion, hysterical paroxysm, depression, neuralgia, convulsions, menstrual cramping, heavy menstrual bleeding, fever, colds, flu, chest infections, arthritis, rheumatism, muscle aches and pains, joint soreness and pains, bruises, diabetes, yeast infections, fungal infections, tooth and gum pain 

Contraindications: Taking medication that slows blood clotting; going into surgery; pregnancy; breast-feeding

 

Links:

Botanical.com: Allspice - http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/allsp025.html

HerbalWisdom.com: Pimento/Allspice - http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-pimento.html

 

Jamaican Jerk Sauce

(makes about 1 cup)

 

Allspice is very popular as a culinary spice, and is used in a wide variety of foods, both sweet and savory. Allspice is very abundant in Jamaica, and is a signature spice in Jamaican and other Caribbean cuisine. Give your next barbecue a Jamaican flare with this homemade jerk sauce.

 

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 Scotch bonnet peppers
  • ½ cup ground Allspice berries
  • ½ cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp ground thyme (or 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves)
  • 2 bunches green onions
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Steps

  1. Seed and core the Scotch bonnet peppers. Be sure to wear gloves.
  2. If available, use whole Allspice berries to the equivalent of ½ cup ground Allspice berries. For a spicier sauce, increase the amount of peppers and/or garlic used.
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth.
  4. Place sauce in an airtight storage container and refrigerate.
  5. To use the sauce:
    1. Wear gloves before applying the jerk sauce. Rub the meat with the seasoning. With pork shoulder, score the fat and rub the seasoning in. With chicken, rub the seasoning under the skin and into the cavity. You can also season a firm-fleshed fish with the jerk sauce.
    2. Marinate overnight before cooking. It is best when grilled.