Spice essential oils such as ginger, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon are common to many people, due to their use in several culinary dishes. However, there are also some less common “spice” essential oils that can become confusing. Here’s a quick look at two closely-related “spice” essential oils – Allspice and West Indian Bay.
Allspice or West Indian Bay
Allspice (Pimenta officinalis) is also known as pimento berry, Pimenta dioica, pimenta, and pimento. West Indian bay (Pimenta racemosa) is also known as bay (West Indies), bayberry (not to be confused with the North American bayberry), bay, and the bay rum tree.
Both species belong to the Myrtaceae plant family and are indigenous to the Caribbean. Today, they are both cultivated in various other countries, too. Both essential oils are high in eugenol content and should be used with care and moderation.
Botanical Profile of Allspice
Allspice is a medium-sized evergreen tree that has long, green, glossy leaves and kidney-shaped seeds. The seeds are green in color, ripening to black. The tree doesn’t produce the seeds until its third year of life. It also produces creamy-white flowers.
Allspice is a popular ingredient in Caribbean cuisine.
Botanical Profile of West Indian Bay
West Indian Bay is a similar-sized evergreen tree, with similar-looking leaves. It also produces white flowers and mature, black fruits.
West Indian Bay is most famous for its use as an essential oil for making rum-fragranced body products, such as soap. The oil produced by the tree is essentially rum – but it is too toxic to drink in its concentrated form.
Allspice Essential Oil
Allspice essential oil has a warm, spicy-balsamic aroma (berry oil). Note that an essential oil can also be produced from the leaves of the tree; this essential oil is more sweet and powerful in aroma.
Allspice essential oil can be used in aromatherapy practice for arthritis, stress, depression, bronchitis, indigestion, nausea, rheumatism, and fatigue.
West Indian Bay Essential Oil
West Indian Bay essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the tree and is both fresh and spicy, and sweet and balsamic in aroma.
West Indian Bay essential oil can be used in aromatherapy practice for colds, flu, muscle pain, rheumatism, poor circulation, and as a hair rinse for lifeless hair.
Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study aromatherapy courses. To learn more, visit the courses home page.
Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons
Desert-Tropicals.com, West Indian Bay Tree, Bay Rum Tree, accessed March 16, 2015
Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, published aromatherapy author, approved NAHA aromatherapy educator, aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor of the NAHA Journal.