(Pimenta officinalis or P. dioica)
These evergreen trees grow in Jamaica for the most part, though it can be found in other tropical locations nearby, such as the rainforests of South and Central America and the agricultural fields of Mexico. The dried berries are used, and they can be stored for long periods of time until they are ground. Grind in a sturdy grinder, they are quite hard. The powder has a much shorter lifespan, if you are not grinding your own fresh powder, then buy allspice in small amounts and replace frequently.
It gets its name from the way that the scent reminds people of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg all within just one spice. It has a warming effect as well, and an ability to lessen pain. The scent can also clear your mind and make you feel strong and capable.
Columbus thought this was pepper, thus the name “pimenta” which is Spanish for “pepper”. Sometimes I wonder if that guy was scandalous and blackmailed people into giving him work, or if he was just stupid. “This is India! Oh wait, no it’s somewhere new.” “This is Japan! Oh, no wait. It’s Cuba.” and now, “This is pepper! No wait, what is this?” He really did mess up a lot and yet the queen kept letting him go on her errands. She probably wanted him as far away from her as possible.
Cautions: Save if used in normal spice levels. There hasn’t been a lot of testing to determine safe levels for medical dosage. It may cause skin reactions in some people. Avoid in higher than normal food use if you are pregnant. Avoid if you are sensitive to allergens, have ulcers, colitis, or diverticulitis. If you have upcoming surgery avoid this spice for two weeks before the surgery, as it may slow blood clotting. Avoid if taking medicines that affect blood clotting.
Anesthetic, antioxidant, carminative
The spice lends a warming quality to foods and teas through improving the circulation. The pain numbing quality (the same that is found in cloves – eugenol) lends comfort in the digestive tract to ease indigestion, and it also works to ease gas pains. It may ease nausea and other flu-like symptoms. It may be good with fevers. It is said to alleviate muscle cramps from menstruation. It is frequently cooked with in the winter and added to warm winter drinks to ease pain with conditions that do worse in the cold, such as arthritic conditions or muscle pain (including pain from fatigue). It may have a laxative effect and may be good for obesity. It has antioxidant properties. It also stimulates digestion by promoting digestive enzymes, and contains minerals that aid the production of blood.
Preparation and Dosage: Use in plasters to ease muscle pain and joint pain, or in a warm compress. The action is both stimulant and pain killing, promoting blood flow to the area but dulling the pain in the tissues. Use a pinch in teas that warm and soothe the body of pain. Use in food and beverages in spice like amounts.
Healing, prosperity, money, luck. May help communication and the type of love or prosperity that contains determination, passion, strength, and willpower. See it standing you firmly on a path to your goals, and giving you what you need to find the strength and willpower to walk down your own path to your happiness and wealth.
Add to mixtures and incenses to draw money or luck, or to healing preparations. I’ve heard of gamblers sprinkling this in their pockets or wallets. Gambler’s pockets must be fascinating places, with all those lucky charms. Also add to herbal teas or foods when you need a bit of luck or prosperity to go with you wherever you need (digest the luck, it becomes a part of you). Burn to draw money or luck, as you breathe it in feeling bad luck break away, and a new and prosperous life beginning. As you do these (or other) things, realize that a part of the process is breaking the bad habits and associations that bring you the greatest amount of ill luck. Figure out where it’s coming from and get away from that source. Energy flows the path of least resistance, make your path to success free of barricades. Then let your luck guide you down a path where the right choices will call to you, that you will know how to act for your greatest benefit and with no harm to others.
I used to simmer this in a stove top potpourri when I was studying for college. I’d heard that it can aid communication and mental focus, as well as benefit memory. It did seem to help me concentrate and have the stamina I needed to get through a productive evening.
Can be added to meats and savory meals as well as sweet, using allspice in a desert or a sauce may help make the meal more easily digested. It is an aromatic herb, meaning its essential oils will evaporate quickly when added to heat. For best flavor and medicine, add toward the end of cooking. If it will be in the oven cover it with foil or a sauce. You can use it with just about anything though. You can even try sprinkling it on a steak when searing it. I use this as an ingredient in my pumpkin spice mix, and we all know how versatile that is. Allspice is just as easily useable.
I frequently suffer from painful joints, especially when it’s damp and cool. Just a small chill in the air goes straight to my bones. Because of this, I’ve become a fan of hot, tasty beverages all year round. In winter I give my teas and coffee an extra warming boost with a bit of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger to get me moving a little more comfortably. The doses are small and therefore the effects are mild, but it does seem to help.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.
The Magic Teaspoon: Transform Your Meals with the Power of Healing Herbs and Spices by Victoria Zak.