The typical American diet that is high in simple carbohydrates—white flour, white salt, and processed food–is aging us. We are getting all the bulk without the nutrients, plus adding to our propensity for developing real food cravings. So whether you are a vegetarian or an omnivore, you can start to reverse aging by simply choosing to eat the right foods to keep you full of vim, vigor, and vitality, especially over the holidays.
The easiest way to make sure you are getting more nutrients into every meal.
Every time you flavor your meals with herbs or spices you are literally “upgrading” your food without adding a single calorie. You are taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary by adding color, flavor, vitamins, and often medicinal properties.
* Spices and herbs maximize nutrient density. Herbs and spices contain antioxidants, minerals and multivitamins. At the cocktail party, choose the Thai chicken satay stick over the tried and true fried chicken strip.
* Spices and herbs create a more thermogenic diet. Because spices are nutrient dense, they are thermogenic, which means they naturally increase your metabolism.
* Some spices and herbs increase your overall feeling of fullness and satiety, so you’ll eat less. One study conducted at Maanstricht University in the Netherlands showed that when one consumes an appetizer with half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes before each meal, it decreased their calorie intake by 10-16 percent.
* Spices and herbs have real medicinal properties. Study after study shows the benefits of distinct herbs and spices. For example, one 2003 trial of 60 people with type 2 diabetes reported that consuming as little as two teaspoons of cinnamon daily for six weeks reduced blood-glucose levels significantly. It also improved blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, perhaps because insulin plays a key role in regulating fats in your body.
Choose flavor over blandness every time, and try to incorporate these specific herbs and spices into your diet if you have the following health concerns:
*rosemary and basil for their anti-inflammatory power
*cumin and sage for their dementia-fighting power
*cayenne and cinnamon for their obesity-fighting power
*coriander and cinnamon for their sugar regulating powers
*lemon grass, nutmeg, bay leaves and saffron for their calming effects on your mood
*turmeric for its cancer fighting power
*oregano for its fungus-beating power
*garlic, mustard seed and chicory for their heart-pumping power
*basil and thyme for their skin-saving power
*turmeric, basil, cinnamon, thyme, saffron, and ginger for their immune-boosting power
*coriander, rosemary, cayenne, allspice and black pepper for their depression-busting power
Okra, Okro, Ochro, Okoro, Quimgombo (Cuba), Quingumbo, Ladies Fingers,gombo, quingombo, Gombo, Kopi Arab, Kacang Bendi, Bhindi (S. Asia), Bendi (Malaysia), Bamia, Bamya or Bamieh (middle east), Gumbo (Southern USA), Quiabo, Quiabos (Portugal and Angola), okura (Japan), qiu kui (Taiwan),in India it is bhindi,eastern Mediterranean and Arab countries bamies.
Parts Used: Immature pods
Etymology, origin and distribution
The name “okra” is of West African origin . In various Bantu languages, okra is called “kingombo” or a variant thereof, and this is the origin of its name in Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French. The Arabic “bemyah” is the basis of the names in the Middle East, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece, North Africa and Russia. In Southern Asia, its name is usually a variant of “bhindi” or “vendi.”
The species apparently originated in the Ethiopian Highlands, though the manner of distribution from there is undocumented. The Egyptians and Moors of the 12th and 13th centuries used the Arab word for the plant, suggesting that it had come from the east. The plant may thus have been taken across the Red Sea or the Bab-el-Mandeb strait to the Arabian Peninsula, rather than north across the Sahara. One of the earliest accounts is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216, who described the plant under cultivation by the locals who ate the tender, young pods with meal.
From Arabia, the plant spread around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and eastward. The lack of a word for okra in the ancient languages of India suggests that it arrived there in the Common Era. The plant was introduced to the Americas by ships plying the Atlantic slave trade by 1658, when its presence was recorded in Brazil. It was further documented in Suriname in 1686. Okra may have been introduced to the southeastern North America in the early 18th century and gradually spread. It was being grown as far north as Philadelphia by 1748, while Thomas Jefferson noted that it was well established in Virginia by 1781. It was commonplace throughout the southern United States by 1800 and the first mention of different cultivars was in 1806
Okra is a member of the Mallow family, related to cotton, hibiscus and hollyhock. It has heart shaped leaves (one species is cultivated for its edible leaves), and large, yellow, hibiscus-like flowers.
The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are 10–20 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with 5–7 lobes. The flowers are 4–8 cm diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal. The fruit is a capsule up to 18 cm long, containing numerous seeds.
It is a tall-growing, warm-season, annual vegetable from the same family as hollyhock, rose of Sharon and hibiscus. The pods, when cut, exude a mucilaginous juice that is used to thicken stews (gumbo), and have a flavor somewhat like a cross between asparagus and eggplant.
Abelmoschus esculentus is among the most heat- and drought-tolerant vegetable species in the world. It will tolerate poor soils with heavy clay and intermittent moisture. Severe frost can damage the pods.
It is an annual crop in the southern United States.
Recommended Varieties :
Annie Oakley (hybrid; 52 days to harvest; compact plant; extra tender pods)
Dwarf Green Long Pod (52 days; ribbed pods)
Clemson Spineless (56 days; AAS winner)
In cultivation, the seeds are soaked overnight prior to planting to a depth of 1-2 cm. Germination occurs between six days (soaked seeds) and three weeks. Seedlings require ample water. The seed pods rapidly become fibrous and woody and must be harvested within a week of the fruit being pollinated to be edible.
The products of the plant are mucilaginous, resulting in the characteristic “goo” when the seed pods are cooked. In order to avoid this effect, okra pods are often stir fried, so the moisture is cooked away, or paired with slightly acidic ingredients, such as citrus or tomatoes. The cooked leaves are also a powerful soup thickener.
Based on the rising experiences with its country cousin, kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), okra could, at least in principle, have a future producing yet more things that are strange for a vegetable crop, including:
*Construction materials: Kenaf-blend panels are said to perform better than the present particleboard.
*Handicrafts: Kenaf fiber makes excellent mats, hats, baskets, and more.
*Forage: Chopping up the whole kenaf plant and feeding it to animals has proven successful.
*Fuel: Kenaf roots and stems burn fiercely.
Abelmoschus esculentus is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its fibrous fruits or pods containing round, white seeds. The fruits are harvested when immature and eaten as a vegetable.
The immature pods are used for soups, canning and stews or as a fried or boiled vegetable. The hibiscus like flowers and upright plant (3 to 6 feet or more in height) have ornamental value for backyard gardens.
A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.
In Egypt, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Yemen, and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean, okra is widely used in a thick stew made with vegetables and meat. In Indian cooking, it is sauteed or added to gravy-based preparations and is very popular in South India. In Caribbean islands okra is cooked up and eaten as soup, often with fish. In Haiti, it is cooked with rice and maize; it is also used as a sauce for meat. It became a popular vegetable in Japanese cuisine toward the end of the 20th century, served with soy sauce and katsuobushi or as tempura. It is used as a thickening agent in gumbo. Breaded, deep fried okra is served in the southern United States. The immature pods may also be pickled.
Okra leaves may be cooked in a similar manner as the greens of beets or dandelions. The leaves are also eaten raw in salads. Okra seeds may be roasted and ground to form a non-caffeinated substitute for coffee. As imports were disrupted by the American Civil War in 1861, the Austin State Gazette noted, “An acre of okra will produce seed enough to furnish a plantation of fifty negroes with coffee in every way equal to that imported from Rio.
Okra forms part of several regional “signature” dishes. Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra) is a Brazilian dish that is especially famous in the region of Minas Gerais. Gumbo, a hearty stew whose key ingredient is okra, is found throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States and in the South Carolina Lowcountry. The word “gumbo” is based on the Central Bantu word for okra, “kigombo”, via the Caribbean Spanish “guingambó” or “quimbombó”. It is also an expected ingredient in callaloo, a Caribbean dish and the national dish of Trinidad & Tobago. Okra is also enjoyed in Nigeria where okra soup (Draw soup) is a special delicacy with Garri(eba) or akpu.
In Vietnam, okra is the important ingredient in the dish canh chua.
Mature okra is used to make rope and paper! (Avoid those old woody pods!).
Medicinal Uses: Nutrition:
Okra is a good source of vitamin C and A, also B complex vitamins, iron and calcium. It is low in calories, a good source of dietary fiber, and is fat-free.
Okra oil is a pressed seed oil, extracted from the seeds of the okra. The greenish yellow edible oil has a pleasant taste and odor, and is high in unsaturated fats such as oleic acid and linoleic acid. The oil content of the seed is quite high at about 40%. Oil yields from okra crops are also high. At 794 kg/ha, the yield was exceeded only by that of sunflower oil in one trial.
Unspecified parts of the plant reportedly possess diuretic properties.
Contains male contraceptive gossypol.
According to Sylvia W. Zook, Ph.D. (nutritionist) Okra has several benefits.
1. The superior fiber found in okra helps to stabilize blood sugar by curbing the rate at which sugar is absorbed from the intestinal tract.
2. Okra’s mucilage binds cholesterol and bile acid carrying toxins dumped into it by the filtering liver.
3. Okra helps lubricate the large intestines due to its bulk laxative qualities. The okra fiber absorbs water and ensures bulk in stools. This helps prevent and improve constipation. Unlike harsh wheat bran, which can irritate or injure the intestinal tract, okra’s mucilage soothes, and okra facilitates elimination more comfortably by its slippery characteristic. Okra binds excess cholesterol and toxins (in bile acids). These, if not evacuated, will cause numerous health problems. Okra also assures easy passage out of waste from the body. Okra is completely non-toxic, non-habit forming, has no adverse side effects, is full of nutrients, and is economically within reach of most unlike the OTC drugs.
4. Okra fiber is excellent for feeding the good bacteria (probiotics). This contributes to the health of the intestinal tract.
5. Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
6. Okra is used for healing ulcers and to keep joints limber. It helps to neutralize acids, being very alkaline, and provides a temporary protective coating for the digestive tract.
7. Okra treats lung inflammation, sore throat, and irritable bowel.
8. In India, okra has been used successfully in experimental blood plasma replacements.
To retain most of okra’s nutrients and self-digesting enzymes, it should be cooked as little as possible, e.g. with low heat or lightly steamed. Some eat it raw.
Acid Reflux and Constipation
A person, suffering from constipation for the past 20 years and recently from acid reflux, started eating 6 pieces of Okra. Since then, has not taken any other medication. Now, his blood sugar has dropped from 135 to 98 and his cholesterol and acid reflux are also under control.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. This anti-inflammatory activity may curtail the development of asthma symptoms. A large preliminary study has shown that young children with asthma experience significantly less wheezing if they eat a diet high in fruits rich in vitamin C. 1/2 cup of cooked Okra contains over 13 mg of vitamin C.
Diets high in insoluble fiber, such as those containing okra, are associated with protection against heart disease in both men and women.
The insoluble fiber found in Okra helps to keep the intestinal tract healthy, decreasing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colo-rectal cancer.
Eating plenty of flavonoid and vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables such as okra helps to support the structure of capillaries.
1/2 cup of cooked okra contains 460 IU of vitamin A. Some studies have reported that eating more foods rich in beta-carotene or vitamin A was associated with a lower risk of cataracts.
A study (JAMA July 23, 2003) showed that consuming a “dietary portfolio” of vegetarian foods lowered cholesterol nearly as well as the prescription drug lovastatin (Mevacor). The diet was rich in soluble fiber from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant and okra. It used soy substitutes instead of meat and milk and included almonds and cholesterol-lowering margarine (such as Take Control) every day.
Depression and Lack of Energy
Okra is a supreme vegetable for those feeling weak, exhausted, and suffering from depression.
A controlled trial showed that eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables containing folic acid, beta-carotene, and vitamin C effectively lowered homocysteine levels. Healthy people were assigned to either a diet containing a pound of fruits and vegetables per day, or to a diet containing 3 1/2 ounces (99g) of fruits and vegetables per day. After four weeks, those eating the higher amount of fruits and vegetables had an 11 percent lower homocysteine level compared to those eating the lower amount of fruits and vegetables. Okra is a storehouse of vitamins and folic acid.
Multiple sclerosis (MS)
In one survey, researchers gathered information from nearly 400 people (half with MS) over three years. They found that consumption of vegetable protein, fruit juice, and foods rich in vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, and potassium correlated with a decreased MS risk.
Known Hazards : The hairs on the seed pods can be an irritant to some people and gloves should be worn when harvesting. These hairs can be easily removed by washing.
Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Common Name : Zedoary Other Names: wild turmeric French: zedoaire German: Zitwer Italian: zedoaria Spanish: cedoaria Indian: amb halad, garndhmul,amb ada(in Bengal),In Telugu called as kacoramu [ kacÅramu ] kachoramu. Indonesian: kentjur
Zedoary is an ancient spice, a close relative to turmeric and native to India and Indonesia. The Arabs introduced it to Europe in the sixth century, where it enjoyed great popularity in the middle ages. Today it is extremely rare in the West, having been replaced by ginger. It is a substitute for arrowroot and used in Indian perfumes and in festive rituals.
Plant Description and Cultivation:
Zedoary grows in tropical and subtropical wet forest regions. It is a rhizome, or underground stem, like turmeric and ginger. The rhizome is large and tuberous with many branches. The leaf shoots are long and fragrant, reaching 1m (3ft) in height. The plant bears yellow flowers with red and green bracts. Pieces of the rhizome are planted, taking two years to mature before it can be harvested..
It is a perennial herb and member of the genus Curcuma Linn. Zedoary is a rhizome that grows in tropical and subtropical wet forest regions. The fragrant plant bears yellow flowers with red and green bracts and the underground stem section is large and tuberous with numerous branches. The leaf shoots of the zedoary are long and can reach 1 metre (3 feet) in height.
The edible root of zedoary has a white interior and a fragrance reminiscent of mango, however its flavour is more similar to ginger, except with a very bitter aftertaste. In Indonesia it is ground to a powder and added to curry pastes, whereas in India it tends to be used fresh or pickled.
Zedoary is a rhizome with a thin brown skin and a bright orange, hard interior. It’s smell is similar to turmeric and mango. Because of the mango-like fragrance, zedoary is called amb halad in many Indian languages (amb means mango). It is sold as a powder (kentjur in Chinese shops), or dried and sliced with a gray surface with a yellow to gray-white interior. There are two types of zedoary sold in Indian markets Curcuma zedoaria or â€˜roundâ€™ which is small and fat like ginger, and Curcuma zerumbet, or â€˜longâ€™ which is long and slender like turmeric.
Bouquet: musky a gingerlike with camphorous undertones
Flavour: warm and ginger-like, slightly camphorous, with a bitter aftertaste.
Preparation and Storage:
Dried zedoary is ground to a powder in a pestle and mortar. Store in airtight containers..
In the Indian kitchen zedoary is usually used fresh or pickled. It is used as a dried spice more in Indonesia where it is often used as an ingredient in curry powder, especially for seafood dishes. It may be pounded with turmeric or ginger to make a spice paste for lamb or chicken curries.
Attributed Medicinal Properties & other uses:
Zedoary is valued for its ability to purify the blood. It is an antiseptic and a paste applied locally to cuts and wounds helps healing. It is used as an aid to digestion and to relieve flatulence and colic. The starch, shoti, is easily digested and nutritious so is widely used as part of an Eastern regimen for the sick or for the very young.
Useful in flatulent colic and debility of the digestive organs, though it is rarely employed, as ginger gives the same, or better results. It is highly valued for its ability to purify the blood. Like turmeric, Zedoary is an antiseptic and a paste applied locally to cuts and wounds helps healing. It is used as an ingredient in bitter tincture of Zedoary, antiperiodic pills (with and without aloes) bitter tincture, antiperiodic tincture (with and without aloes). Zedoary is also rich in starch and is given to babies and invalids in India. It is combined with pepper, cinnamon and honey and used to treat colds. It is used in Indian perfumes called ittars as well as in some drinks. A paste of a little zedoary and cream makes a good face mask and keeps the skin clear and shining. An ingredient in Swedish bitters. The rhizome is used in China to treat certain types of tumors. In Chinese trials, zedoary has reduced cervical cancer, and increased the cancer-killing effects of radiotherapy chemotherapy.
Zedoary is also used in some traditional eastern medicines where it is reputed to be an aid to digestion, a relief for colic and an agent for purifying the blood.
The essential oil produced from the dried roots of Curcuma zedoaria is used in perfumery and soap fabrication, as well as an ingredient in bitter tonics.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Habitat :Central America, West Indies, Northern South America
Mostly Cultivated In:Madagascar, Comoros Islands, Reunion, French Polynesia, Tahiti, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mozambique, Seychelles, Uganda, Guatemala, Mexico. Description: For many people in countries where quality ice cream is readily available, vanilla is the most popular of the non-pungent spices. It has been regarded as one of the most expensive spices along with saffron, cardamon and green peppercorns. The cost of vanilla reflects its historic importance as a flavor used in the royal drinks of the Mayans and Aztecs that were based on chocolate. The Aztecs called vanilla tlilxochitl, and they used it with chile peppers to flavor their drink.
Vanilla is found in the seeds of the orchid vine, Vanilla planifolia (V. fragrans), which is native to Mexico. The Spaniards likened the bean pods to a little sheath or vaina, which is derived from the similar Latin word, vagina! Obtaining the flavor can be a several month long process, resulting from slowly fermenting the beans, which contain many small seeds; the ground-up bean is then used in similar fashion to coffee. People who enjoy the strong vanilla taste want to use freshly cured bean, while others accept the commercial extract. True vanilla in ice cream contains tiny dark flecks resulting from the presence of the seeds. However, the vanilla flavor, which is mainly due to vanillin, can be readily chemically synthesized from eugenol or guaiacol, or from lignin derived from tar, wood, or tonka beans. This product lacks the quality of the natural vanilla flavor that develops during the curing of the best beans when glucosides are converted to vanillic aldehyde, which is vanillin, since other aromatic chemicals are also produced.
Vanilla trees are grown in Mexico, Central America (Guatemala and especially Costa Rica), and in some Caribbean islands (especially Jamaica). However, it is difficult to grow since it is only pollinated by native bees and hummingbirds. It requires artificial fertilization outside its natural habitat, but it can be cultivated through the use of cuttings. Following its introduction to the French island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean, a method of hand pollination was introduced in 1841. Reunion is still an important site of vanilla production; the variety is called Bourbon vanilla, after the former name of the island. Madagascar is now the major producer of Bourbon vanilla.
When vanilla became popular in 17th century Europe, it was used for many indications, varying from stomach ulcers to sedation. As was the case with many spices, it was extolled as an aphrodisiac. Today, it may fulfill its latter function when used in high quality baked goods, confectionary and desserts, although most users regard it more prosaically as a delicious flavor that may help digestion. Vanilla is used to flavor tobacco and as a fragrance in the cosmetic industry. It is of interest that sensitive workers in the vanilla industry may develop vanillism, resulting in headaches and skin rashes.
Artificial vanilla (containing vanillin and ethylvanillin) is acceptable to most tastes, and therefore the export of true vanilla may continue to decline, since the culture and manufacture of the quality product is expensive and relatively non-competitive. Moreover, its value as an exotic medicine is no longer accepted. Thus the role of the vanilla bean has declined in significance, with over 95% of the worldâ€™s supply of vanilla flavor being synthetic. Useful Parts: The cured, dried fruits of the plant impart the flavor. Medicinal Properties: Vanillin is in the class of vanilloids, that includes â€“ surprisingly â€“ capsaicin (8-methy-N-vanillyl noneamide) from chile pepper and eugenol from cloves, cinnamon and other spices, and zingerone from ginger. The vanilloid receptors of the central and peripheral nervous systems bind with these compounds, resulting in different sensory effects. Thus, capsaicin can cause a burning sensation while eugenol results in mild anesthesia; vanillin itself is neutral.
Historical View :
â€œVanilla is an aromatic stimulant, with a tendency towards the nervous system. It has also been regarded as an aphrodisiac. It has been employed as a remedy in hysteria, low fevers, impotency, etc. But its use as a medicine is obsolete in this country, although still sometimes employed on the Continent and elsewhere.â€
Common Names :Jamaica pepper, Pepper, Myrtle pepper, Pimenta, Pimento, English pepper or Newspice
Allspice takes its name from its aroma, which smells like a combination of spices, especially cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. In much of the world, allspice is called pimento because the Spanish mistook the fruit for black pepper, which the Spanish called pimienta. This is especially confusing since the Spanish had already called chillies pimientos.
Habitat : Pimento officinalis or allspice is indigenous to the West Indian Islands and South America, and extensively grown in Jamaica, where it flourishes best on limestone hills near the sea. In this country, it only grows as a stove plant.
It is also cultivated in Central America and surrounding states, but more than half the supply of the spice found in commerce comes from Jamaica, where the tree is so abundant as to form in the mountainous districts whole forests, which require little attention beyond clearing out undergrowth
The allspice tree, classified as an evergreen shrub, reaches heights between 10 and 18 m (32 and 60 ft). Allspice can be a small, scrubby tree, quite similar to the bay laurel in size and form. It can also be a tall, canopy tree, sometimes grown to provide shade for coffee trees planted underneath it.The tree begins to fruit when three years old and is in full bearing after four years. The flowers appear in June, July and August and are quickly succeeded by the berries.
The special qualities of the fruit reside in the rind of the berries. It loses its aroma on ripening, owing to loss of volatile oil, and the berries are therefore collected as soon as they have attained their full size, in July and August, but while unripe and green.
Gathering is performed by breaking off the small twigs bearing the bunches; these are then spread out and exposed to the sun and air for some days, after which the stalks are removed and the berries are ready for packing into bags and casks for exportation.
The spice is sometimes dried in ovens (Kiln-dried Allspice), but the method by evaporation from sun-heat produces the best article, though it is tedious and somewhat hazardous, requiring about twelve days, during which the fruit must be carefully guarded against moisture, being housed at night and during rainy and damp weather.
The green colour of the fresh fruit changes on drying to reddish brown. If the fruit is allowed to ripen, it loses almost the whole of its aromatic properties, becoming fleshy sweet and of a purple-black colour. Such pimento, to render it more attractive, is then often artificially coloured with bole or brown ochre, a sophistication which may be detected by boiling for a few seconds with diluted hydrochloric acid, filtering and testing with potassium ferrocyanide; the liquid should assume at most a bluish-green colour.
Allspice is one of the most important ingredients of Caribbean cuisine. It is used in Caribbean jerk seasoning (the wood is used to smoke jerk in Jamaica, although the spice is a good substitute), in moles, and in pickling; it is also an ingredient in commercial sausage preparations and curry powders. Allspice is also indispensable in Middle Eastern cuisine, particularly in the Levant, where it is used to flavour a variety of stews and meat dishes. In Palestinian cuisine, for example, many main dishes call for allspice as the sole spice added for flavouring. In the U.S., it is used mostly in desserts, but it is also responsible for giving Cincinnati-style chili its distinctive aroma and flavour. Allspice is commonly used in Great Britain, and appears in many dishes, including cakes. Even in many countries where allspice is not very popular in the household, as in Germany, it is used in large amounts by commercial sausage makers. It is a main flavour used in barbecue sauces. In the West Indies, an allspice liqueur called “pimento dram” is produced.
The chief constituent of allspice is from 3 to 4.5 per cent of a volatile oil, contained in glands in the pericarp of the seeds and obtained by distillation from the fruit.
It occurs as a yellow or yellowish-red liquid, becoming gradually darker on keeping and having a pleasant aromatic odour, somewhat similar to that of oil of cloves, and a pungent, spicy taste. It has a slightly acid reaction. It is soluble in all proportions of alcohol. The specific gravity is 1.030 to 1.050. Its chief constituent is the phenol Eugenol, which is present to the extent of 60 to 75 per cent, and a sesquiterpene, the exact nature of which has not yet been ascertained. The specific gravity to some extent indicates the amount present; if lower than 1.030, it may be assumed that some eugenol has been removed, or that the oil has been adulterated with substitutes having a lower specific gravity than that of eugenol. The eugenol can be determined by shaking the oil with a solution of potassium hydroxide and measuring the residual oily layer. The United States Pharmacopoeia specifies that at least 65 per cent by volume of eugenol should be present. On shaking the oil with an equal volume of strong solution of ammonia, it should be converted into a semisolid mass of eugenol-ammonium.
The clove-like odour of the oil is doubtless due to the eugenol, but the characteristic odour is due to some other substance or substances as yet unknown. A certain amount of resin is also present, but the oil has not yet been fully investigated.
Bonastre obtained from the fruit, a volatile oil, a green fixed oil, a fatty substance in yellowish flakes, tannin, gum, resin, uncrystallizable sugar, colouring matter, malic and gallic acids, saline matter and lignin. The green fixed oil has a burning, aromatic taste of Pimento and is supposed to be the acrid principle. Upon this, together with the volatile oil, the medicinal properties of the berries depend, and as these two principles exist most in the shell, this part is the most efficient. According to Bonastre, the shell contains 1O per cent of the volatile and 8 per cent of the fixed oil; the seeds only 5 per cent of the former and 2.5 of the latter. Berzelius considered the green fixed oil of Bonastre to be a mixture of the volatile oil, resin, fixed oil and perhaps a little chlorophyll.
On incineration, the fruits yield from 2.5 to 5 per cent of ash.
They impart their flavour to water and all their virtues to alcohol. The infusion is of a brown colour and reddens litmus paper.
The leaves and bark abound in inflammable particles.
Because of its eugenol content, allspice has attributes similar to clove. It is a digestive and carminative. The oil is classed as rubefacient, meaning that it irritates the skin and expands the blood vessels, increasing the flow of blood to make the skin feel warmer. The tannins in allspice provide a mild anesthetic that, with its warming effect, make it a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles, used either as a poultice or in hot baths.
Medicinal Uses: The chief use of Pimento is as a spice and condiment: the berries are added to curry powder and also to mulled wine. It is popular as a warming cordial, of a sweet odour and grateful aromatic taste.
The oil inaction resembles that of cloves, and is occasionally used in medicine and is also employed in perfuming soaps.
It was formerly official in both the British and United States Pharmacopoeias. Both Pimento Oil and Pimento Water were official in the British Pharmacopoeia of 1898, but Oil of Pimento was deleted from the British Pharmacopceia of 1914, though the Water still has a place in the British Pharmacopceia Codex.
Pimento has also been dropped from the United States Pharmacopoeia, but admitted to the National Formulary IV. Pimento is one of the ingredients in the Compound Tincture of Guaic of the National Formulary IV.
Pimento is an aromatic stimulant and carminative to the gastro-intestinal tract, resembling cloves in its action. It is employed chiefly as an addition to tonics and purgatives and as a flavouring agent.
The Essential Oil, as well as the Spirit and the distilled Water of Pimento are useful for flatulent indigestion and for hysterical paroxysms. Two or three drops of the oil on sugar are given to correct flatulence. The oil is also given on sugar and in pills to correct the griping tendencies of purgatives: it was formerly added to Syrup of Buckthorn to prevent griping.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.