Pimento Berry Oil
Botanical Name: Pimenta officinalis
Family Name: myrtle
Common Method of Extraction: The oil is steam distilled from the dried unripe fruits.
Parts Used: Berries
Note Classification: Middle
Aroma: The aroma of the oil is sweet, spicy and warm
Largest Producing Countries: Caribbean and Central and South America. Pimento is also called Allspice and the oil is also known as clove pepper and Jamaican pepper. In Jamaica it is an important crop.
Traditional Use: Pimento is an evergreen tree with branches that grows up to 12 meters tall. It has leathery, smooth leaves of a dark, glossy green, resembling those of the laurel. They emit a wonderful aroma of clove when crushed or rubbed, as they contain secretary glands containing odorant molecules from which the essential oil is extracted. But it is the small, brown, globular, sweet-pulped berries that boast the richest, most powerful fragrance. When crushed, they give off a delicious fragrance of cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and pepper. Pimento berry oil has antiseptic and antioxidant properties. It is used as an external medicine to treat chest infections and muscular aches and pains. Ground pimento berries are used to make medicines more edible. Full, dried, unripe berries are used in preserving spice blends, marinades, and mulled wine. Powdered berries are used to flavour cakes, biscuits, puddings and chutneys. Folk medicine uses pimento berries as a digestive aid, antiseptic and for nervous exhaustion. Pimento berry oil is used in perfumery and also as a fruit flavour. The pimento berries are harvested between September and March in Jamaica. The Jamaicans climb the trees and break the branches using the hand. This process serves to prune and does not harm the tree. The cut branches are then waved on the ground to free the berries to be gathered. These fruits must still be green, otherwise they lose their aroma. They are sun-dried for four to ten days and crushed prior to being distilled.
Blends Well With: Pimento berry oil blends well with geranium, ginger, labdanum, lavender, neroli, myrrh, and patchouli and ylang ylang oils.
Of Interest: In Jamaica when the tree is in full bloom the aroma of the flowers fills the air and the plantations are called pimento walks. The tree produces purplish black round sweet berries during summer. The leaves of the tree are mixed in tea. The berries were first used in Europe in the 16th century by English botanist John Ray. He considered the flavour of the berries as a mixture of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Safety Data: Pimento berry oil can act as a mucous membrane irritant. The oil may interfere with blood clotting. Since the oil causes irritation and sensitisation it is highly recommended that it be avoided in the bath even if it is diluted. It is not a good idea to take the oil internally and used on the skin undiluted. It is better consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner before using the oil. Do not use the oil if you are pregnant, epileptic or have liver damage, cancer or any other medical problem.