Nutmeg: What is Nutmeg? Benefits, Side Effects, Reviews and Facts

Nutmeg Benefits, What is Nutmeg Side Effects, Reviews and Facts

The hard brown seed from the nutmeg tree (a tropical evergreen) has a warm, spicy sweet flavor. Mace is the dried lacy membrane from around the nutmeg seed. The nutmeg tree is indigenous to the Banda Islands of Indonesia but is also grown in the Caribbean, especially in Grenada. The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7-9 years after planting, and the trees reach their full potential after 20 years. At one time, nutmeg was one of the most valuable spices. It has been said that in England, several hundred years ago, a few nutmeg nuts could be sold for enough money to enable financial independence for life.


The nutmeg tree is any of several species of trees in genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree indigenous to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas (or Spice Islands) of Indonesia. The nutmeg tree is important for two spices derived from the fruit: nutmeg and mace.


Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering or aril of the seed. The first harvest of nutmeg trees takes place 7–9 years after planting, and the trees reach full production after 20 years. Nutmeg is usually used in powdered form. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices. Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter.


The common or fragrant nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia, is also grown in Penang Island in Malaysia and the Caribbean, especially in Grenada. It also grows in Kerala, a state in southern India. Other species of nutmeg include Papuan nutmeg M. argentea from New Guinea, and Bombay nutmeg M. malabarica from India, called jaiphal in Hindi; both are used as adulterants of M. fragrans products.


Season

Available year-round.


How to Store

The freshness can be maintained longer if stored in an airtight container. Keep away from heat, moisture, and direct sunlight. These elements hasten the loss of flavor and aroma. Avoid storing over the stove, dishwasher, sink or near a window. Should not be stored in the freezer. Freezing does not extend the shelf life of regularly used dried spices. If stored in the freezer, and repeatedly removed for use, condensation will form in the container and accelerate loss of flavor and aroma.


How to Prepare

Many chefs prefer freshly ground nutmeg directly from the seed.


Whole nuts are preferable to ground nutmeg, as flavor deteriorates quickly. Whole nuts will keep indefinitely and can be grated as required with a nutmeg grater. Store both ground and whole nutmeg away from sunlight in airtight containers.


Nutmeg Facts

Nutmeg is not one spice, but two. Mace is also derived from the nutmeg fruit. You've probably used nutmeg in many dessert dishes, but it also works well in savory recipes.


The nutmeg tree is evergreen, with oblong egg-shaped leaves and small, bell-like light yellow flowers that give off a distinct aroma when in bloom. The fruit is light yellow with red and green markings, resembling an apricot or a large plum. As the fruit matures, the outer fleshy covering bursts to reveal the seed. The seed is covered with red membranes called an aril, the mace portion of the nutmeg. The nut is then dried for up to 2 months until the inner nut rattles inside the shell. It is then shelled to reveal the valuable egg-shaped nutmeat which is the edible nutmeg. Second-rate nuts are pressed for the oil, which is used in perfumes and in the food industry.


Nutmeg is the actual seed of the nutmeg tree. This is the only tropical fruit that is the source of two different spices (nutmeg and mace). Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, but mace has a stronger flavor. The nutmeg seed is encased in a mottled yellow, edible fruit, the approximate size and shape of a small peach. The fruit splits in half to reveal a net-like, bright red covering over the seed. This is the aril which is collected, dried and sold as mace. Under the aril is a dark shiny nut-like pit, and inside that is the oval shaped seed which is the nutmeg. Nutmegs are usually sold without the mace or hard shell. Nutmeg is sold whole or ground, and is labeled as ‘East Indian' or ‘West Indian' indicating its source. Nutmeg is not a nut and does not pose a risk to people with nut allergies. Allergy to nutmeg does occur, but seems to be rather rare.


Nutmeg butter: Butter is obtained from the nut by expression. It is semi-solid, reddish brown in color, and has the tastes and smells of nutmeg.


Nutmeg and Mace History

Botanically known as Myristica fragrans, the nutmeg tree originates in Banda, the largest of the Molucca spice islands of Indonesia. The English word nutmeg comes from the latin nux, meaning nut, and muscat, meaning musky.


In the first century A.D., Roman author Pliny speaks of a tree bearing nuts with two flavors. Emperor Henry VI had the streets of Rome fumigated with nutmegs before his coronation. In the sixth century, nutmegs were brought by Arab merchants to Constantinople. In the fourteenth century, half a kilogram of nutmeg cost as much as three sheep or a cow.


The Dutch waged a bloody war, including the massacre and enslavement of the inhabitants of the island of Banda, just to control nutmeg production in the East Indies. In 1760, the price of nutmeg in London was 85 to 90 shillings per pound, a price kept artificially high by the Dutch voluntarily burning full warehouses of nutmegs in Amsterdam. The Dutch held control of the spice islands until World War II.


Frenchman Pierre Poivre transported nutmeg seedlings to Mauritius where they flourished, aiding in ending the Dutch monopoly of the spice. The British East India Company brought the nutmeg tree to Penang, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, the West Indies, and most notably Grenada, where it is the national symbol and emblazoned on the country's red, yellow, and green flag.


Culinary Uses

Nutmeg is used in sweet and spicy dishes like pies, custard, cookies spice cakes, cheese sauces, soups, egg and vegetables dishes. Mace is often preferred in light-colored dishes for the bright orange, saffron-like color it imparts.


Essential Oils

The essential oil obtained by steam distillation of ground nutmeg is used widely in pharmaceutical industries. This volatile fraction typically contains 60-80% d-camphene by weight, as well as quantities of d-pinene, limonene, d-borneol, l-terpineol, geraniol, safrol, and myristicin. The oil is colourless or light yellow, and smells and tastes of nutmeg. It contains numerous components of interest to the oleochemical industry, and is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups, beverages, and sweets. It is used to replace ground nutmeg, as it leaves no particles in the food. The essential oil is also used, for instance, in toothpaste, and as a major ingredient in some cough syrups. In traditional medicine, nutmeg and nutmeg oil were used for disorders related to the nervous and digestive systems.



Benefits of Nutmeg

Medicinal Properties

Sedative, stimulant, relaxant, anti inflammatory, antiseptic, bactericide, etc.


Medicinal Benefits

  • Nutmeg oil is potent brain booster, increasing circulation and allowing you to concentrate better. It also works by stimulating the brain and therefore removes mental exhaustion and stress.

  • Nutmeg oil also stimulates the cardiovascular system and therefore is a good tonic for the heart.

  • Nutmeg is an effective liver and kidney detoxifier.

  • Nutmeg powder heated on the pan with sesame oil until brown is an effective external application to relieve any rheumatic pain, neuralgia and sciatica. The oil should be cooled and strained before application. Nutmeg oil is also effective in treating menstrual cramps, muscular and joint pain as it is an excellent sedative.

  • Nutmeg can help clear up congestion due to colds, this is the reason why it is used in many cough syrups.

  • Nutmeg powder (about 5 to 15 grams), mixed with apple juice or banana, is used as a specific remedy for diarrhea caused by indigestion.

  • A regular massage of the abdomen with nutmeg oil, three weeks before delivery is believed to be very helpful for child birth.

  • Nutmeg paste mixed with honey is given to infants who cry at night for no apparent reason, to induce sleep.

  • Nutmeg oil helps in removing bad breath. It is also antiseptic in nature and is effective for toothaches and aching gums.


Known as a popular spice around the world, nutmeg is also popular for its many health benefits. In fact, since ancient times, nutmeg has been used as a remedy for various ailments or to improve health in general. Here are some of the health benefits that nutmeg provides.


1. Brain Tonic

During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic. This is because nutmeg can effectively stimulate your brain. As a result, it can help eliminate fatigue and stress. If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, nutmeg may also be a good remedy. Nutmeg can also improve your concentration so you can become more efficient and focused at work or at school.


2. Pain Relief

Nutmeg is also an effective sedative. In fact, nutmeg is a staple in ancient Chinese medicine. The Chinese used the spice to treat inflammation and abdominal pain. Use nutmeg if you are suffering from aching joints, muscle pain, arthritis, sores and other ailments. To relieve the pain, apply nutmeg oil to the affected areas.


3. Indigestion Relief

If you suffer from digestion-related problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, flatulence and so on, nutmeg can effectively offer you relief. Nutmeg oil relieves stomachaches by removing the excess gas from your intestines. Nutmeg can also boost your appetite.


4. Bad Breath Treatment

Because of its antibacterial properties, nutmeg can also effectively treat halitosis or bad breath. As you probably know, bad breath is usually caused by a build-up of bacteria in your mouth. Nutmeg can rid your mouth of these bacteria. This is the reason why nutmeg is a common ingredient in many brands of toothpastes. Nutmeg can also be used to treat gum problems and toothaches.


5. Liver and Kidney Detox

Detoxification is an important factor of good health. Diet, pollution, stress, tobacco, medication and other external substances can lead to the build-up of toxins in your organs. The liver and kidney are two of the organs where this toxic build-up usually develops. As a tonic, nutmeg can clean your liver and kidney and remove these toxins. If you are suffering from a liver disease then nutmeg can also be beneficial. Nutmeg is also effective in preventing and dissolving kidney stones. When your liver and kidney are successfully detoxified, they can perform their function better.


6. Skin Care

If skin care is one of your priorities then you might want to incorporate nutmeg into your regimen. Nutmeg can actually help you achieve smoother and healthier skin by helping you treat several skin problems. A scrub made from nutmeg powder and orange lentil powder can help you remove blackheads, a type of acne characterized by pores clogged with excess oil and dead skin cells. If you suffer from acne marks, nutmeg can also help make your scars less noticeable. What you need to do is mix some nutmeg powder with some honey to make a paste, which you will then apply to the acne marks.


7. Sleep Aid

If you have difficulty sleeping at night, drink a cup of milk with some nutmeg powder. This will help you achieve relaxation and will induce sleep.



Nutmeg Side Effects

Warning: Large dosage (30 grams which is about 6 tablespoons a day) of nutmeg can be toxic, producing disorientation, double vision and convulsions, but these side effect will not be produced even with generous amount in culinary usage.


Nutmeg and mace are UNSAFE in doses larger than amounts found in foods. Side effects such as thirst, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, feelings of pressure in the chest or stomach, dry mouth, stomach pain, and many other problems might occur in some people. More serious side effects might include hallucinations, seizures, and death.


Not enough is known about the safety of using nutmeg and mace on this skin.


Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Nutmeg and mace are UNSAFE in doses larger than amounts found in foods. In pregnant women, they may cause miscarriages or birth defects.


Not enough is known about the safety of using nutmeg and mace during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


Nutmeg and Mace Interactions

Moderate Interaction – Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1) substrates) interacts with NUTMEG AND MACE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

    Nutmeg and mace might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking nutmeg and mace along with some medications that are changed by the liver can lead to a variety of effects and side effects. Before taking nutmeg and mace talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include chlorzoxazone, theophylline, bufuralol, and others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 1A2 (CYP1A2) substrates) interacts with NUTMEG AND MACE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

    Nutmeg and mace might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking nutmeg and mace along with some medications that are changed by the liver can lead to a variety of effects and side effects. Before taking nutmeg and mace talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

    Some of these medications that are changed by the liver include clozapine (Clozaril), cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), fluvoxamine (Luvox), haloperidol (Haldol), imipramine (Tofranil), mexiletine (Mexitil), olanzapine (Zyprexa), pentazocine (Talwin), propranolol (Inderal), tacrine (Cognex), theophylline, zileuton (Zyflo), zolmitriptan (Zomig), and others.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2B1 (CYP2B1) substrates) interacts with NUTMEG AND MACE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

    Nutmeg and mace might increase how quickly the liver breaks down some medications. Taking nutmeg and mace along with some medications that are changed by the liver can lead to a variety of effects and side effects. Before taking nutmeg and mace talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

  • Medications changed by the liver (Cytochrome P450 2B2 (CYP2B2) substrates) interacts with NUTMEG AND MACE

    Some medications are changed and broken down by the liver.

    Taking nutmeg and mace along with some medications that are changed by the liver can lead to a variety of effects and side effects. Before taking nutmeg and mace talk to your healthcare provider if you take any medications that are changed by the liver.

  • Phenobarbital (Luminal) interacts with NUTMEG AND MACE

    The body breaks down phenobarbital (Luminal) to get rid of it. Nutmeg and mace might increase how quickly the body breaks down phenobarbital (luminal). Taking nutmeg and mace along with phenobarbital (luminal) might decrease the effectiveness of phenobarbital (Luminal).



Nutmeg and Mace Dosing

The appropriate dose of nutmeg and mace depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for nutmeg and mace. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.



Other Names

Jaatipatree, Jaiphal, Jatikosha, Jatipatra, Jatipatri, Jatiphal, Jatiphala, Jatiphalam, Javitri, Jayapatri, Macis, Muscade et le Macis, Muscadier, Muskatbuam, Muskatnuss, Myristica, Myristicae Aril, Myristica Fragrans, Myristica Officinalis, Myristicae Semen, Noix Muscade, Nuez Moscada, Nuez Moscada y Macis, Nux Moschata, Ron Dau Kou.



Nutmeg Reviews

The following reviews have been selected:


Smells so good! March 15, 2009, From Rhode Island

I mix this with the cinnamon and tangerine - smells heavenly...



Antidote for caffeine November 06, 2011, By Charles Brashears From West Virginia

Nutmeg and Cardamon together are the antidote for caffeine according to ayurveda literature. Nutmeg is a sedative. Most authors do not recommend taking essential oils internally however I take them diluted with an ounce of cooking oil to prevent stomach irritation. Artificial oils should never be taken internally as they are toxic.



oil March 01, 2011, From Washington

Smell is to strong even with one drop. Smells more like gas than nutmeg



Pleased May 01, 2008, From Texas

Will order larger quantity next time. I burn it in an oil burner and it makes my home smell sooooo good.



Grenada memories November 08, 2010

I learned about nutmeg oil on Grenada, it is highly efficient as a gentle painkiller and I use it for pains in my joints and shoulders. Although it sometimes takes a little while, it always soothes the pain.



Nice smell May 23, 2011, From Israel

But it's by far not the best scrub I had. It actually doesn't do much to my skin.



Nice! March 14, 2011, From Pennsylvania

I really like this scrub it's not too coarse nor too fine. It left my skin, which tends to be a bit rough, soft and smooth.



Great stuff! April 23, 2011, From Malaysia

Very good scrub. Moisture skin, smells nice but not strong, what actually i like. Works really good.



body scrub June 12, 2011, From Israel

great smell,leaves skin soft and smooth



Satisfied! June 17, 2011, By Ida Janova Wåden From Norway

I have (had) problem skin at the back of my thighs and above my knees. And the back on my over arm. Red spots and uneven skin. Used it 3 times, and my skin is much much better. Put on jojoba oil afterwards! I used scrubbing glowes ... Perfect combination.



Wonderful! July 07, 2011, By Joyce Baker

Will buy again. Makes your skin so soft.



Nice scrub September 14, 2011, From Israel

Gentle, but yet effective scrub. Doesn't leave the skin oily and that is what I liked about it. Smoothens the skin and smells very nice.


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