Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
Nutmeg and mace are plant products. Nutmeg is the shelled, dried seed of the plant Myristica fragrans, and mace is the dried net-like covering of the shell of the seed. Nutmeg and mace are used to make medicine.
Nutmeg and mace are used for diarrhea, nausea, stomach spasms and pain, and intestinal gas. They are also used for treating cancer, kidney disease, and trouble sleeping (insomnia); increasing menstrual flow; causing a miscarriage; as a hallucinogen; and as a general tonic. Nutmeg and mace are applied to the skin to kill pain, especially pain caused by achy joints (rheumatism), mouth sores, and toothache.
In manufacturing, nutmeg oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics. Nutmeg oil is distilled from worm-eaten nutmeg seeds. The worms remove much of the starch and fat, leaving the portions of the seed that are rich in oil.
Steam distilled Nutmeg Essential Oil is a warming oil that when used judiciously, it is a wonderful essential oil for use in helping to ease digestive complaints as well as muscular aches and pains. A little goes a long way for all essential oils, but this especially holds true for Nutmeg Essential Oil. It primarily contains monoterpenes, but also contains approximately 10% ethers including myristicine and safrole as well as the phenol methyeugenol.
Aromatically, Nutmeg Essential Oil is a warm, spicy essential oil that is sweet and somewhat woody. It blends beautifully with other essential oils in the spice family. It also blends well with floral, citrus and wood essential oils. It can add a beautiful, distinctive spicy characteristic to otherwise bland blends.
Major Constituents of East Indian Nutmeg Oil:
- Methyleugenol (reported for East Indian Nutmeg Oil)
Nutmeg Essential Oil Uses
- Gastrointestinal Spasm
- Upset Stomach
- Muscular Aches and Pains
- Muscular Injury
- Menstrual Cramps
Source: Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2016, 609.
Benefits of Nutmeg
Antibacterial. Test-tube studies show that nutmeg has antibacterial effects against potentially harmful bacteria, including E. coli and Streptococcus mutans.
Antioxidants. Nutmeg is rich in antioxidants, including phenolic compounds, essential oils, and plant pigments, all of which help prevent cellular damage and may protect against chronic diseases.
Anti-inflammatory. Nutmeg may reduce inflammation by inhibiting certain inflammatory enzymes.
Increase Libido. Some animal research suggests that high doses of nutmeg may enhance libido and sexual performance.
May benefit heart health. Animal studies show that taking high-dose nutmeg supplements reduced heart disease risk factors, such as high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels, though human research is lacking.
Could boost mood. Rodent studies have found that nutmeg extract induced significant antidepressant effects in both mice and rats. Studies are needed to determine if nutmeg extract has the same effect in humans.
May improve blood sugar control. A study in rats showed that treatment with high-dose nutmeg extract significantly reduced blood sugar levels and enhanced pancreatic function.
Nutmeg has a warm, sweet flavor that pairs well with many different sweet and savory foods.
Nutmeg Essential Oil Safety Information
Nutmeg may cause serious side effects, such as hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, and even death, when taken in large doses or combined with other recreational drugs.
Tisserand and Young warn that Nutmeg Essential Oil is potentially carcinogenic and can be psychotropic in high doses. They recommend a dermal maximum of 0.8% for East Indian and 5% for West Indian Nutmeg Oils. [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, Essential Oil Safety (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 366-367.]