Image for Nutmeg (, )
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans, Myristica officinalis)

Synonyms/Common Names/Related Substances:

  • (+)-licarin A, 1-allyl-3,4-methylenedioxy-5-methoxybenzene, 2,3-dihydro-7-methoxy-2(3,4-methylenedioxyphenyl)-3-methyl-5-(E)-propenyl-benzofuran, 2,3-dihydro-7-methoxy-2-(3-methoxy-4,5-methylenedioxyphenyl)-3-methyl-5-(E)-propenyl-benzofuran, 5-methoxy-dehydrodiisoeugenol, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, basbas (Arabic), basbasah, (Arabic), basbaz (Persian), beta-phellandrene, beta-pinene, bicuiba (Portuguese), borneol, buah pala (Malay), bunga pala (Malay), chan thet (Thai), chant heed (Laotian), cineole, dâu khâu (Vietnamese), dehydrodiisoeugenol (DDIE), diarylpropanoids, dihydroguaiaretic acid (DHGA), dok chand (Thai), elemicin, erythro-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(3, 4-dimetho-xyphenyl) propane, erythro-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl) propane, erythro-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-propan-1-ol, erythro-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(3,4-dimethoxyphenyl)-propan-1-ol acetate, erythro-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(3,4,5-trimethoxyphenyl)-propan-1-ol, erythro-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-propan-1-ol, erythro-austrobailignan-6 (EA6), estragole, eugenol, fatty lipids, fleur de muscade (French), flor de noz moscada (Brazilian Portuguese), foelie (Dutch), gamma-terpinene, gerinol, guaiacin, industan djevisi (Turkish), isoeugenol, isolicarin A, jaaiipatrii (Nepali), jaayphala (Hindi), jadikkai (Tamil), jaephal (Hindi), jaiphal (Bengali), jaiphul (Hindi), jaitri (Hindi), jajikaia (Telugu), jajipatri (Sanskrit), jajiphalam (Sanskrit), japatri (Telugu), jathi seed (Malayalam), jathikkai (Thai), jati pattiri (Tamil), jatikka (Tamil), javitri (Hindi), jayaphal (Nepali), josat al teeb (Arabic), jousbuva (Arabic), jouzboyah (Persian), jouzuttib (Arabic), kambang pala (Malay, Java), kembang pala (Malay), licarin-A, licarin-B, lignans, lignan-ketone, ligroin, look jun (Thai), macelignan, machilin A, macia (Spanish), macis (French, Spanish), malabaricone B, malabaricone C, meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid (DGA), methoxyeugenol, methyleugenol, moscada (Spanish), moscadeira (Portuguese), moscadero (Spanish), moschokarydo (Greek), muscadier (French), Muskatbaum (German), Muskatblüte (German), muskatnii orekh (Russian), muskatnød (Danish), muskatnogo orekha (Russian), muskatnoi drechi (Russian), Muskatnuβ (German), Muskatnuβbaum (German), muskott (Swedish), myristic acid, myristica, Myristica cagayanensis, Myristica fragrans, Myristica fragrans Houtt., Myristica officinalis, Myristicaceae (family), Myristicae aril, Myristicae semen, myristicin, myrisisolignan (threo-2-(4-allyl-2,6-dimethoxyphenoxy)-1-(3-methoxy-5-hydroxy-phenyl)-propan-1-ol), nectandrin-B (NB), neolignans, nhuc dâu khau (Vietnamese), nikuzuku (Japanese), noce moscata (Italian), nogal moscado (Spanish), noix de banda (French), noix muscade (French), nootmuskaat (Dutch), nootmuskaatboom (Dutch), noz moscada (Brazilian Portuguese), nuez moscada (Spanish), nutmeg, nux moschata, nuz moscada (Portuguese), otobanone, otobaphenol, pala (Indonesian), pala banda (Malay), pattiri (Tamil), pied de muscade (French), resorcinols, rou dou kou (Chinese), rou dou kou yi (Chinese), rou guo (Chinese), rou kou (Chinese), sadikka (Sinhalese), safrole, sekar pala (Malay), semen Myristicae, sushonaya shelukha (Russian), taiphal (Hindi), taipmal (Hindi), taukau (Chinese), terpene, terpinen-4-ol, terpineol, trimyristin, vicuiba (Telugu), volatile oil, yu guo (Chinese), yu guo hua (Chinese), zadeikpo (Burmese).
  • Note: Jamaican nutmeg (Monodora myristica) is a plant that has an aroma similar to nutmeg and has been sold as a substitute for nutmeg; however, it is in a different family (Annonaceae) and is not covered in this monograph.

Clinical Bottom Line/Effectiveness

Brief Background:

  • Nutmeg and mace are two commonly used spices originating from the same tree, Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg is derived from the seed of the tree and mace from the seed covering (aril). Myristica fragrans is indigenous to the Banda Islands of Indonesia (1), once the only source for this spice, although the tree is now cultivated in several other tropical regions, such as Malaysia and the Caribbean. Grenada is also one of the world's greatest nutmeg exporters (2). Species other than true nutmeg (Myristica fragrans, Myristica officinalis) such as Papuan nutmeg (Myristica argentea) or Bombay nutmeg (Myristica malabarica) are used as adulterants in nutmeg products. Jamaican nutmeg (Monodora myristica) is a plant that has an aroma similar to nutmeg and has been sold as a substitute for nutmeg.
  • While nutmeg is most commonly known for its use in foods, such as eggnog, it also has a history of abuse as a recreational psychoactive drug (3;4;5). Users have reported narcotic-like effects with two tablespoons of nutmeg. Unpleasant effects, including bitter taste, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and disorientation, may limit its popularity as a psychoactive substance.
  • Other traditional uses of nutmeg include, but are not limited to, diarrhea, mouth sores, and insomnia (6). Evidence from human study suggests that nutmeg extract, when used as part of chewing gum, may decrease plaque and gingivitis. However, well-designed clinical trials in this context, or any other human indication, are currently lacking.
  • Although nutmeg is generally considered safe in the amounts used in foods, large doses may be extremely dangerous. Cases of acute nutmeg poisoning from ingestion of very large amounts of nutmeg (over 10g), for recreational purposes, have been reported (7;8;9;10). Symptoms include, but are not limited to, electrocardiographic changes, severe gastrointestinal symptoms, severe musculoskeletal symptoms (such as muscle weakness and ataxia), neurological symptoms (such as headache and dizziness), blurred and duplicate vision, various psychotic symptoms, and death.

Dosing/Toxicology

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Precautions/Contraindications

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Mechanism of Action

  • Content available for subscribers only.

History

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Evidence Table

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Evidence Discussion

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Products Studied

  • Content available for subscribers only.

Author Information

  • Content available for subscribers only.

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  • Content available for subscribers only.
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.