By Gary, on April 1st, 2013
“N” is for Nutmeg
The fragrant rich nutmeg is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its aromatic, aphrodisiac, and curative properties. Nutmegs are evergreen trees, native to the rain forest Indonesian Moluccas Island, also known as the Spice Islands.
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.
If you like to use nutmeg in cooking and baking, you are providing a great health benefit to yourself and those who eat your cooking and baked goods.
Here are some benefits in using Nutmeg daily:
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.
Nutmeg is also an effective sedative. 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.
Nutmeg oil relieves stomach aches by removing the excess gas from your intestines. If you suffer from digestion-related problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and flatulence and so on, nutmeg can effectively offer you relief. Nutmeg can also boost your appetite.
Nutmeg can also effectively treat halitosis or bad breath. Bad breath is usually caused by a build-up of bacteria in your mouth and, nutmeg can rid your mouth of these bacteria. Nutmeg can also be used to treat gum problems and toothaches.
Nutmeg can clean your liver and kidney and remove toxins. 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. 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.
Nutmeg can actually help you achieve smoother, 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. Just mix some nutmeg powder with some honey to make a paste, which you will then apply to the acne marks.
Nutmeg powder mixed with a cup of milk and drunk at night will help you achieve relaxation and will induce sleep if you need help falling asleep.
1The spice tree is a large evergreen plant that thrives well under tropical climates. A fully-grown tree reaches about 50-60 feet in height and is the source of nutmeg and mace, two valuable spices. The nutmeg fruit, in fact, is a drupe, about the size of an apricot, which when ripen splits up to reveal single centrally situated oval shaped hard kernel known as “nutmeg spice.” The seed is closely enveloped by crimson-red colored lacy or thread like arils known as “mace.” Both spices have a similar warm, sweet aromatic flavor.
Nutmeg tree yields up to three times in a season. Once harvested from the tree, the outer coat or husk is removed and discarded. Just underneath the tough husk is the golden-brown color aril, known as “mace,” enveloping nutmeg kernel. Mace is gently peeled off from the kernel surface, flattened into strips, dried, and sold either as whole or finely ground. The nutmeg kernels are then dried under sun for several days to weeks. At larger commercial set-ups, this process is done rather more rapidly over a hot drier machine until the whole nutmeg rattles inside the shell.
The shell is then broken and shriveled nutmeg kernel is taken out. Finally, nuts are dipped in lime water in order to prevent insect infestation and seed germination.
Other benefits of nutmeg:
Nutmeg and mace spice contains many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.
The spicy nut contains fixed oil trimyristin and many essential volatile oils such as which gives a sweet aromatic flavor to nutmeg like myristicin, elemicin, eugenol and safrole. The other volatile-oils are pinene, camphene, dipentene, cineole, linalool, sabinene, safrole, terpeniol.
The active ingredients in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.
Nutmeg is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
Nutmeg is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and many flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin that are essential for optimum health.
Medicinal uses for nutmeg:
Since ancient times, nutmeg and its oil were being used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicines for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. The compounds in this spice such as myristicin and elemicin have been soothing as well as stimulant properties on brain.
Nutmeg oil contains eugenol, which has been used in dentistry for toothache relief.
Nutmeg oil is also used as a local massage to reduce muscular pain and rheumatic pain of joints.
Nutmeg when freshly prepared decoction with honey has been used to relief of nausea, gastritis, and indigestion ailments.
There are side effects when ingesting large amounts of the nutmeg powder or the nutmeg oil. They are:
2According to the March 1993 issue of the “Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,” nutmeg also has touted psychoactive and hallucinogenic properties and has been used as a drug for several centuries. In recent times nutmeg has gained popularity as a natural legal high. In small quantities nutmeg is safe, but in higher quantities, nutmeg is very poisonous and toxic. It is not safe for recreational drug use.
Oils found in the shell of the nutmeg can be very toxic if taken in high enough quantities. The most toxic component of the nutmeg oils is known as myristica oil or myristica. The quantity that must be ingested to act as poison is much higher than what is usually used in cooking or the amount sprinkled on eggnog. According to the 1997 issue of “Natural Toxins,” five grams of nutmeg is enough to induce a toxic effect. The actual toxic dose may differ from person to person. Caution should be taken.
According to MedlinePlus, nutmeg poisoning, also known as myristica oil poisoning, can cause a wide range of adverse reactions to the nervous system. These can include drowsiness, anxiety, drunkenness, and headache, but also can have more serious effects including tremors and seizures. Nutmeg poisoning, according to MedlinePlus, can cause tremendous bodily harm and even be fatal if medical treatment is not sought.
Other Side Effects
According to MedlinePlus, nutmeg poisoning can cause a slew of adverse effects including gastrointestinal issues such as nausea and diarrhea. Nutmeg poisoning can also cause rapid heart rate, chest pain, and dehydration. Under the right circumstances, any of these effects can be dangerous if medical attention is not readily available.
Although nutmeg drug interactions are not fully understood, scientists have done some research on them. In a study published by Dr. Dinesh Dhingra in the spring 2006 issue of the “Journal of Medicinal food” nutmeg oil exhibited anti-depressive effects in mice. The mechanism of action is not known, but it could be suggested that higher levels of nutmeg could interact with anti-depressant medication. In the April 2001 issue of “Forensic Science International”, Dr. Stein describes an interaction of nutmeg oil with flunitrazepam, a powerful prescribed narcotic lead to the death of a patient.