Nutmeg scientific name is Myristica Fragrans, some other common names are jaiphal, payphal, mace, jatiphala, pala, josat, muscade and moschokarido. The name nutmeg is derived from the Latin nux muscatus, meaning “musky nut. It is an annual spice belonging to the family Myristicaceae. The nutmeg is a dried small kernel of the seeds of an evergreen tree, it has a strong aroma with a slightly bitter taste. The nutmeg tree is usually 9 to 12 meters high but sometimes even taller. Nutmeg is classified by origin and trade; a good quality must be maintained for trade. It has been classified into 3 groups: Sound, Substandard, and Distillation.
Morphology and Chemical Constituent
Morphology - Nutmeg trees can grow up to 10-20m in height and be male or female. Nutmeg trees give flowers at the age of 9 years; after that, they continue giving flowers for 75 years. The flowers are dioecious and have small auxiliary racemes and they are bell-shaped, and pale yellow in color. The texture of flowers is waxy, fleshy, dioecious, and small auxiliary racemes. The flowering time is from July to October. The leaves of the nutmeg trees are alternate and glabrous, they are obtuse at the base, elliptical, aromatic, acuminate, glossy, dark green above, and paler underside. The fruit of the nutmeg tree is a round drupe, pendulous, and composed of a succulent pericarp. The seed is fleshy, firm, whitish, and transverse by red-brown veins, rich in oil.
Chemical Constituent – Nutmeg contains an essential oil and saponin, and the dry, ripe seeds of the fruit contain a volatile oil and a fixed oil. The dry leaves of the tree yield an essential oil consisting of myristicin. The seed contains about 10% essential oil which is mostly composed of terpene hydrocarbons, terpene derivatives, and phenylpropanes.
Nutmeg trees grow in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies, the ancient records mention that once upon a time nutmeg tree flourished in India, it is now grown in the Nilgiris’s Kerala, Karnataka, and West Bengal. It is also grown on a small scale in Trinidad, China, India, Tobago, Zanzibar, Mauritius, Grenada, South America, and Taiwan.
What are the Health Benefits and Uses of Nutmeg?
In ancient times nutmeg was used in preparing various medicines, even today it is used in serval important and widely used pharmaceutical preparations. The oil extracted from the herb is used in liniments, perfumery, hair lotions, and as an antispasmodic carminative. It has aromatic, stimulant, narcotic, carminative, astringent, aphrodisiac, hypolipidemic, antithrombotic, antiplatelet aggregation, and antifungal, anti-dysenteric, and anti-inflammatory properties. Nutmeg is beneficial in the relief of pain, promoting digestion, improving brain health, detoxifying the body, oral health, treating insomnia and leukemia, hormone imbalance, skincare, and regulating blood pressure. The Traditional uses of nutmeg seeds include the treatment of hemorrhoids, chronic vomiting, rheumatism, cholera, psychosis, stomach cramps, nausea, and anxiety.
Nutmeg has multiple uses, it is used in Ayurveda and pharmaceuticals for medicinal purposes, in culinary it is used as a flavoring spice for cooking savory, dessert and drinks, Nutmeg’s oil has its existence because of its texture and essence, essential oils of nutmeg are used in Aromatherapy, skincare, haircare, perfume, and in cosmetics products.
Here are some health benefits and uses
In case of a running nose, a paste made from nutmeg with cow’s milk and 75 mg of opium should be applied to the forehead for quick relief.
The herb is useful in treating dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea, particularly in cholera. An infusion prepared from half a nutmeg in half a liter of water given with tender coconut water in doses of 15 grams at a time, is an effective treatment.
The powder of nutmeg, about 5 to 15 grams, mixed with apple juice or banana, is a specific remedy for diarrhea caused by indigestion from food. The same quantity of nutmeg powder taken with a tbsp of fresh amla juice thrice daily is an effective remedy for indigestion, hiccups, and morning sickness.
The powder of nutmeg, mixed with fresh amla juice is an effective medicine for insomnia, irritability, and depression. Nutmeg pastes mixed with honey are given to induce sleep in infants who cry at night for no apparent reason. It should, however, never be given regularly except under medical advice, as it can cause serious complications and addiction in infants.
A coarsely powdered nutmeg fired in oil till it turns brown is a useful external application to relieve rheumatism pain, neuralgia, and sciatica. The oil should be cooled and strained before application.
Nutmeg is used in the treatment of skin diseases like ringworm and eczema, the paste of the herb prepared by rubbing it on a stone slab in one’s own early morning saliva – before cleansing the mouth- applied once daily is a specific remedy for treating these conditions.
Sex Stimulant – Nutmeg mixed with honey and a half-boiled egg, makes an excellent sex tonic. It prolongs the duration of the sexual act if taken an hour before intercourse.
What are the Side Effects of Nutmeg?
All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based and don’t have any side effects, but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have unique health issues.
Nutmeg can be useful in appropriate quantity, but it can be very harmful if it is taken in large amounts or in the wrong way, overdose or wrong dose can produce toxic symptoms such as burning in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, and giddiness with hallucination. It should be taken in very small doses, in appreciable doses, it excites the motor cortex and produces epileptic convulsions and lesions in the liver. Large amounts of nutmeg consumption may cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dizziness.
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Frequently Asked Question
Q - What are the benefits of nutmeg?
Nutmeg has numerous health benefits, in Ayurveda, it is used to treat various health ailments like cough and cold, insomnia, rheumatism pain, neuralgia, sciatica, digestive disorder, and skin disorders.
Q - Is nutmeg a fruit or nut?
Nutmeg is a fruit of the nutmeg tree; it is not a nut. The fruit of the nutmeg tree is a round drupe, pendulous, and composed of a succulent pericarp.
Q - Why does nutmeg make you sleepy?
In Ayurveda, nutmeg helps to treat insomnia, irritability, and depression when nutmeg powder is taken with amla juice. Trimyristin is a natural chemical found in nutmeg that helps to induce sleep.
Q - What are the disadvantages of nutmeg?
Nutmeg has no side effects if it’s taken in the proper or recommended dose, but it can be very harmful if it is taken in large amounts or in the wrong way, overdose or wrong dose can produce toxic symptoms such as burning in the stomach, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, and giddiness with hallucination.
Q - How much nutmeg can I take daily?
The doses depend upon the purpose of taking nutmeg, the general recommended dose is 1-2 mg per day.