Note: Allspice leaves may occasionally be termed "West Indian bay leaf," but other sources reserve that name for the closely related species Pimenta racemosa. Allspice should not be confused with Capsicum annuum, which is also known as pimento or "cherry pepper."
Allspice is produced from the fruit of the Pimenta dioica plant and originates primarily from Jamaica, the West Indies in general, and South America. The fruits are picked when they are green, then dried in the sun or in a kiln and sold as either whole dried fruit or in powdered form. Allspice has a complex, peppery taste similar to a mix of cinnamon, juniper, clove, and nutmeg.
Historically, allspice was used to treat indigestion and intestinal gas. It was also taken by mouth to treat stomachaches, heavy menstrual bleeding, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, flu, and colds. Commercially, allspice has been used to flavor toothpastes.
Currently, there is limited high-quality evidence supporting any clinical use of allspice.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
* Key to grades
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use B: Good scientific evidence for this use C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work) F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)
Tradition / Theory
The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
There is no proven safe or effective dose for allspice. Traditionally, as an antigas agent, 2-3 drops of allspice oil has been taken by mouth; as an indigestion aid, 1-2 teaspoons of allspice powder in one cup of water has been taken by mouth. As a laxative, bruised pimento has been added to water (5:200 ratio) and distilled. One to two ounces of this mix has been taken by mouth as a laxative.
Traditionally, for muscle aches, allspice and water have been mixed to make a paste and applied to the affected area. For toothache, 1-2 drops of allspice oil has been applied to the affected area four or less times daily.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for allspice, and use in children is not recommended.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid with known allergy or hypersensitivity to allspice, its constituents, or members of the Myrtaceae family. There have been reports of allergic reactions of the skin to spices and flavorings, including allspice, among people who work in restaurants or other food-service jobs. People with such allergies may also have cross-reactivity to foods such as tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots. There have been reports of cross-reactivity among people allergic to balsam of Peru.
Side Effects and Warnings
There are limited data on reactions to allspice. Most reported side effects were mild and affected the skin. Allspice and many other herbs, spices, and foods contain naturally occurring agents called estragole and methyl eugenol, which may cause cancer.
Use cautiously in patients who are taking CYP450-metabolized agents, as allspice may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be decreased in the blood and reduce the intended effects. Patients taking any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional about possible interactions.
Use cautiously in patients taking agents that have blood pressure-lowering, blood sugar-lowering, or central nervous system (CNS)-lowering activity, and other herbs or supplements with similar effects, due to possible additive effects.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Allspice is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Allspice may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects of potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Allspice may have additive effects when taken with drugs that have anticancer, immune-stimulating, blood pressure-lowering, blood sugar-lowering, hormonal, or central nervous system (CNS)-depressing activity.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Allspice may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high in the blood. Allspice may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements have on the P450 system.
Allspice may have additive effects when taken with herbs or supplements that have antioxidant, anticancer, immune-stimulating, blood pressure-lowering, blood sugar-lowering, hormonal, or sedative activity.
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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.