- Family Myristicaceae
- Myristica fragrans
- Mace, Myristica, Rou dou kou (Chinese)
- Large doses can produce convulsions and palpitations. The consumption of just two kernels have resulted in death.
Native to the Molucca Islands of Indonesia, nutmeg trees are now widely cultivated. Both spices (nutmeg and mace) come from the same evergreen tree that grows to about forty feet, producing aromatic leaves and clusters of small yellow flowers that eventually produce the fruits. Inside the fruit, is the seed (nutmeg) covered with aril (mace) (see more under Foods). Both are similar in their medicinal properties. The tree yields fruit after about eight years and can continue for over sixty. The fruit is picked when ripe, and the spices are separated and dried.
Nutmeg was first brought to Europe from the Banda Islands by Portuguese sailors in 1512 and soon was regarded as a cureall and tonic. Its hallucinogenic properties were also soon discovered.
It was also believed to cause abortions and cure the plague, but neither is true.
It has been used in China since at least the 7th century.
- appetite stimulant
- digestive stimulant
- volatile oil (up to 15% including borneol, eugenol, myristicin, elincin, safrole)
- fixed oil (myristine, butyrin)
- volatile oil (similar to nutmeg, but with higher concentrations of myristicin)
- Kernel, aril, essential oil
- Myristicin is the constiuent most responsible for its toxicity and hallucinogenic action.
- Safrole, in isolation, and in high doses, is carcinogenic.
- Clinical trials have successfully treated Crohn’s disease with nutmeg.
A decoction of the kernel is taken for morning diarrhea or chronic colitis.
Capsules are a convenient way to treat nausea, indigestion, gastric upsets, and chronic diarrhea.
The essential oil can be applied to a cotton swab and put on the gum around an aching tooth until dental treatment can be obtained. A few drops in a little honey will help nausea, gastroenteritis, chronic diarrhea, and indigestion.
Massage oil can be made by diluting the essential oil in almond oil and used for muscular pains associated with rheumatism or overexertion. It can be combined with thyme or rosemary for added relief.
Nutmeg and Mace are not used much in the West because of their potential toxicity. It is mainly used in culinary dishes. Its use medicinally is mainly that of a digestive remedy for nausea, vomiting, indigestion, and also for diarrhea, especially if related to food poisoning.
The Chinese use it to warm the stomach and regulate energy (qi).
Mace, made into an ointment, is used for rheumatism.
In India, nutmeg is ground into a paste and applied directly to areas of eczema and ringworm.