In Puerto Rico, you can find the Malagueta tree. It is cultivated for ornamental use and medicinal benefits. We know it more from its use in preparing Alcolado. Learn more about Malagueta, how to identify it and its medicinal uses.
What is Malagueta?
You can find the Malagueta in Puerto Rico and the Antilles. It is sown for ornamental purposes or for its use to make alcolado.
In Puerto Rico, Malagueta is mistakenly called Eucalyptus. However, it is very rare to see the Eucalyptus (Globulus) in Puerto Rico. Learn more about the differences between Eucalyptus and Malagueta.
What’s does the Malagueta Tree look like?
Malagueta grows up to 40 feet tall. It has a smooth trunk that comes off in strips like the Guava tree. You’re easily identifying it by the characteristic smell of alcolado when you crush the leaves in your hand. The aroma is composed of terpenes and has a clove-like fragrance. The elliptical leaves have a dark green color with a semi-glossy tone.
More about Malagueta
The Malagueta tree is native to the Antilles. It belongs to the botanical family of the Mirtáceas, a relative of guava and pepper. Malagueta is known as West Indian Bay and its scientific name is Pimenta Racemosa. It blooms during winter and spring. Fruits usually ripen during summer and autumn. The tree is slow growing, with very deep roots and fairly long life. In addition, there is a variety of Malagueta with a refreshing lemon aroma.
In Puerto Rico, there is even a law that protects the Malagueta tree. Law No. 18 of 1941 ordering the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture to protect the Malagueta plantations and increase the cultivation of that tree.
A very close cousin of malagueta is the Pimienta Dulce tree (Pimenta dioica). It is known by many names such as Allspice, Jamaican Pepper and Pimienta Guayabita. Malagueta seeds are toxic but Allspice seeds are used as a seasoning in the kitchen.
What’s it used for?
The leaves of the Malagueta contain Eugenol. Eugenol is a compound, which is also obtained from clove, that has an analgesic and anesthetic effect. It’s used to relieve toothache. This is why malagueta is so effective at relieving headaches and muscle pains.
In Puerto Rico, its leaves are used to prepare a traditional pain relief remedy called Alcolado. Alcolado, also called Alcoholado or Bay Rum, is a mixture of alcohol, Malagueta leaves and natural extracts such as menthol and eucalyptus. It is used locally to relieve fever, muscle and headache pains, insect bites and more. It’s even used for energy cleansing, spiritual protection and to cool the body.
Caribbean Soaps has been preparing artisanal alcolado for 19 years. Made in Puerto Rico since 2001. The company offers artisanal alcolado made in small quantities, with eucalyptus and mint essential oils and fresh Malagueta leaves added before bottling.
The most well-known brand of commercial Alcoholado is Alcoholado Superior 70.
The essential oil, also called Bay Rum, is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves of the Malagueta. The oil has a very long shelf life. It is a fairly complex compound, with over 23 components. Making it difficult to synthesize in the lab.
The island of Dominica is one of the largest exporters of the oil. In Creole, the malagueta tree is called in Bwa Den. Derived from the French “Bois d’lnde” which translates to Indian wood.
Soaps, Perfumes and Aftershave
Essential oil is used for the manufacture of soaps, after shave and colognes such as “Bay Rum”.
“Bay Rum” is an after shave for men that is made from a combination of Malagueta oil, citrus oils and spices, alcohol and water.
The St. John’s Bay Rum is a cologne prepared in the American Virgin Islands for more than 70 years. It is prepared with a combination of Malagueta oil, eucalyptus, cloves and Caribbean spices creating a very popular masculine essence.
Malagueta Leaf Tea
Although there is a tradition of consuming Malagueta tea, we always recommend consulting first with your naturopath.
Malagueta tea is used to relieve menstrual pains and digestive disorders such as diarrhea and constipation.
During the Chikungunya epidemic in 2014, tea was used to relieve symptoms. The tea was prepared with malagueta leaves, a whole green mango and cinnamon. It is said to have helped reduce the pain and inflammation of the joints created by the disease.
To make the tea, boil water and add some malagueta leaves. Remove from heat after several minutes. Let stand, strain and serve.
Its essential oil is used as a traditional remedy for hair loss, preventing dandruff and scalp irritation
Remedies against the Fungus
Is very effective for treating fungal diseases. Laboratory studies have found that its use in the skin is very effective against fungi.
For its anti-fungal properties, it helps treat athlete’s feet, cloth and other conditions.
From malagueta baths to treat arthritis and cold, mosquito repellent and even to keep the moth away. What many uses it has!
The Malagueta tree can be found in Puerto Rico. Although it is best known for its use in alcolado, the benefits of Malagueta are many. You know more about the Malagueta and how to identify it.
It is not recommended to consume the seeds of this tree, as they are toxic.
For women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, consumption of this herb is not recommended, as in children under three years of age.
It is important to remember that these statements do not replace medical treatments and that the use of these products can serve as an excellent complementary therapy, if used responsiblely, but do not cure any disease. Always consult your doctor before starting any treatment.