Allspice Herb - Dosage and Useful Properties
Common Trade Names
Common FormsFluidextract: essential oil
Pimento water (aqua pimentae): contains oil of pimento, Powdered fruit: 10 to 30 grains
Available as a condiment in various commercial preparations.
Active chemicals are derived from the dried, unripened berries of a tree (Pimenta dioica or Eugenia pimenta) native to Central America, Mexico, and the West Indies.
The active components of allspice include eugenol, caryophyllene, and methyleugenol in a volatile oil. Other components include glycosides, gum, minerals, quercetin, resin, sesquiterpenes, sugar, tannin, and vitamins (A, C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine). The volatile oil can be obtained through distillation of the fruit. The rind of the berries is thought to lead to the greatest medicinal activity.
Several in vitro studies of allspice provide evidence of antibacterial and antifungal activity . It is also claimed to act as a GI stimulant and an antiflatulent.
Limited data are available on the pharmacopoeia actions of the active ingredients. Two metabolites have been identified: homomandelic acid and homovanillic acid.
In animal models, about 1 % of the active ingredient eugenol is demethylated. It causes CNS depression, inhibits prostaglandin activity in human colonic tissue, and increases the activity of certain digestive enzymes, including trypsin, a protein-digesting enzyme. Eugenol's antioxidant properties have been reproduced in a few in vitro studies. Despite this effect, some data suggest that eugenol may promote cancer growth .
Pimentol, derived from methanol extract of allspice, acts as a hydroxyl radical scavenger in in vitro models.
In animal studies, ethanolic and aqueous extracts administered LV. to rats caused analgesia, CNS depression, dose-related hypotension, and hypothermia .
The essential oil derived from the allspice berry has been claimed to be therapeutically useful in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine, but there is little or no data to support these claims.
Other unsupported claims of therapeutic usefulness include treatment of colds, diabetes, diarrhea, fatigue, hysterical paroxysms, and menstrual cramps. No human clinical trials are reported in the literature.
Crushed allspice berries have been applied topically to treat bruises and soothe sore joints and muscles. The anesthetic properties of eugenol may be the rationale for this application. Indeed, eugenol is used by dentists as a local anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gums.
Iron and Other Minerals: Interference with absorption of minerals. Avoid using together.
Contraindications And Precautions
Allspice is contraindicated in patients with chronic GI disorders, such as disarticulates, diverticulosis, duodenal ulcers, reflux disease, spastic colitis, and ulcerative colitis. It is also contraindicated in patients with cancer or those who are at high risk for cancer. Avoid its use in pregnant or breast-feeding patients.
Monitor the patient using allspice topically for hypersensitivity reactions.
Inform the patient that eugenol may pose an undetermined potential risk of cancer.
Advise the patient that some sources recommend that allspice consumption should be limited to an amount normally contained in foods as a condiment.
Alert Caution the patient that seizures may result with excessive use.
Points of Interest
Allspice is commonly used as an aromatic spice in foods and to provide flavor in toothpaste and other products. The FDA considers it safe for external use.
Except for a few in vitro and animal studies and human toxicology case reports, data supporting the use of allspice for any of its alleged therapeutic uses are limited. Most of the information available is found in the lay literature, not peer-reviewed journals. Allspice and eugenol have been widely used in foods, dental products, and other pharmaceuticals and can be considered safe for consumption in small quantities. Controlled clinical trials are needed to explore historical therapeutic claims.
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