Pimenta racemosa

scientific name: 
Pimenta racemosa (Mill.) J.W. Moore
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Evergreen tree up to 15 m high with smooth, whitish, variegated and flaking bark, hard and heavy wood.  Leaves simple, entire, opposite in pairs, dark green, leathery, oblong to elliptic, obtuse at the tip, rounded at the base, 15-20 x 5-7 cm, prominent  venation, highly aromatic when crushed; inflorescence a compound panicle 5-10 cm long, flowers numerous 3-4 mm long, white; fruit a subglobose to ellipsoid berry, 8-10 mm long, thickly covered with small convex glands, black when ripe.




leaf crushed, applied locally, jointly with Allium sativum and Syzygium aromaticum1


  leaf, crushed, local massage2

The leaf of Pimenta racemosa is an industrial source essential oil.

For toothache:

Wash leaf and crush it together with an unopened and dried floral bud of Syzygium aromaticum (clove) and a clove of Allium sativum (garlic).  Apply 5-10 grams of preparation on affected tooth 2-3 times a day17.

For rheumatism:

Wash and crush leaf. Separate 30 grams of vegetal matter and rub it for 2 to 5 minutes on affected area of skin 2 times a day17.

Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.

According to published and other information:

Use for toothache is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use documented in the TRAMIL surveys, and on available published scientific information.

For topical application, strict hygienic measures should be observed in order to avoid contamination or additional infection.

The use of this resource for toothache can be considered complementary to dental treatment.

Use for rheumatism is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Contact with handling leaf can cause reactions of hypersensitivity.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 5 years old.

TRAMIL Research14

The LD50 of the aqueous decoction (for 10 minutes) of the dried and crushed leaf by intraperitoneal administration to mice, chemically neutralized to pH7, at 10 days, was determined to be 2.08 ± 0.27 g/kg.  After oral administration to mice for 30 days (6.25, 12.5 and 18.75 g/kg), it caused no evident signs of toxicity.  Doses are g dry wt.

TRAMIL Research4

The acute toxicity study of the essential oil from the entire plant administered orally to mice found that ingestion in small amounts (non-lethal dose) caused injury, particularly to the digestive tract.  The anatomic-pathological observation suggested open ulcers, stomach necrosis and intestinal hemorrhage at higher doses.  The LD50 of the essential oil of the entire plant administered orally to mice was determined at 443 mg/kg.

The aqueous extract from the leafin vitro has been described as lacking mutagenic effect13.

The LD50 of eugenol administered orally was determined to be 2.68 g/kg in rats and 3 g/kg in mice15.

Eugenol contained in the essential oil is described as irritant and likely to induce reactions of hypersensitivity16.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The leaf contains essential oil: eugenol, iso-eugenol-trans-methyl ether, 1,8-cineole, thymol, limonene, ɣ-terpinene, ρ-cymen-8-ol, myrcene, trans-sabinene, α-terpinene, chavicol3-4.

The essential oil of the leaf contains 3-dimethoxyallylbenzene, and accounts for 1-3% of fresh plant weight5.

Several varieties are recognized.  They are, however, very similar from the chemical-taxonomic point of view.  The most common variety is grisea.  The other two differ by the smell of the leaves and, therefore, by the nature of the essential oils they contain.  The essential oil of the leaf contains 3-dimethoxyallylbenzene and accounts for 1-3% of fresh weight.

The chemical constituents of the grisea variety can be sorted into three groups:

-monoterpenic hydrocarbons: myrcene (major), allo-cymene, limonene, α-phellandrene, dipentene (minor);

-aldehydic monoterpenes: citral, citronellal and geranial

- phenolic ethers: eugenol (major), methyl-eugenol, chavicol, 3-4 dimethoxyallylbenzene, methyl chavicol (minor).

The composition is similar regardless of harvesting location or season.

The variety with citral scent is very rich in this substance and features low eugenol content.  The variety with anise scent also has low eugenol content, and features chavicol and methyl-eugenol derivatives4-5.

Steam distillation of the stem yields up to 3.9% of essential oil, whose major constituents are eugenol (approx. 56%), chavicol (22%) and myrcene (21%).  Anise-smelling varieties contain approx. 43% methyl-eugenol and 32% methyl-chavicol, while in lemon-smelling varieties the prevailing constituent is citral, sometimes accounting for more than 80% of the total content of essential oil6.

The essential oil has been found to have antifungal activity in vitro, against Microsporum canis, at a concentration of 100 ppm; against Trichophyton interdigitale, T. mentagrophytes, T. rubrum and Candida albicans at 200 ppm, and against Aspergillus fumigatus at 400 ppm7.

The essential oil administered orally to mice (30 mg/animal) did not induce glutathione-S-transferase8.

Eugenol is believed to be active against Trichomonas vaginalis, and is claimed to be an antiseptic, local anesthetic and dental anesthetic9-10; it is also attributed spasmolytic, parasympatholytic and peripheral vasodilating properties11.

3-4 dimethoxyallylbenzene has been found to have sedative and narcotic activity in tests using mice and fish; it also protect against strychnine-induced convulsions12-13.




1 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

2 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

3 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

4 BOURGEOIS P, 1986 Rapport concernant Pimenta racemosa (Myrtacées). Rapport TRAMIL. Laboratoire de phytochimie, Faculté des Sciences, UAG, Guadeloupe.

5 FURIA T, BELLANCA N, 1971 Fenaroli's handbook of flavour ingredients. Cleveland, USA: The Chemical Rubber Co.

6 LEUNG AY, FOSTER S, 1980 Encyclopedia of common natural ingredients used in food, drugs and cosmetics. New York, USA: Wiley Interscience.

7 CHAUMONT J, BARDEY I, 1989 In vitro antifungal activity of essential oils. Fitoterapia 60(3):263-266.

8 LAM L, ZHENG B, 1991 Effects of essential oils on glutathione S-transferase activity in mice. J Agric Food Chem 39(4):660-662.

9 NEGWER M, 1987 Organic chemical drugs and their synonyms (an international survey), 6th ed. Berlin, Germany: Akademie Verlag.

10 DUKE JA, 1992 Handbook of biologically active phytochemicals and their bioactivities. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

11 DE SOUSA M, Matos ME, Matos FJ, MACHADO MI, CRAVEIRO AA,1991 Constituintes químicos ativos de plantas medicinais Brasileiras. Fortaleza, Brasil: Ceará Edições UFC Laboratorio de produtos naturais.

12 MAC GREGOR JT, LAYTON LL, BUTTERY RG, 1974 California bay oil. II. Biological effects of constituents. J Agric Food Chem 22(5):777-780.

13 UNGSURUNGSIE M, SUTHIENKUL O, PAOVALO C, 1982 Mutagenicity screening of popular Thai spices. Food Chem Toxicol 20(5):527-530.

14 HERRERA J, 1988 Determinación de actividades biológicas de vegetales utilizados en medicina tradicional. Informe tramil. Dep. de Farmacología, Facultad de Salud, Universidad del Valle, Cali, Colombia.

15 BUDAVARI S (Ed.), 2001 The Merck Index: an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs, and biologicals. 30th ed. Whitehouse Station, USA: Merck & Co., Inc. p690.

16 REYNOLDS J (Ed.), 1996 Martindale: The extra pharmacopoeia. 31st ed. London, England: The Royal Pharmaceutical Society. p1705.

17 CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.


The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.