Nutmeg is a seed or most commonly found in kitchens in the form of ground spice. It belongs to the genus Myristica. It has a characteristic strong, suffocating smell and is warm and sweet in taste.
Nutmeg in limited quantity has various uses in baked products, puddings, flavourings, meals, sausage. Essential oil derived from nutmeg has numerous uses in perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.
There are several positive effects of nutmeg – Soothes digestion, detoxifies body, makes skin healthy, reduce insomnia, strengthens understanding capability of brain.
Negative effects of Nutmeg- sometimes causes allergic reactions, contact dermatitis, psychoactive effects.
Is Nutmeg actually a hallucinogen?
When nutmeg is consumed in less amounts, it has no psychoactive effects. But, in high dose it can cause noticeable physiological and neurological responses.
It consists of a compound called ‘Myristicin’, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor and psychoactive substance. This is a compound one can majorly find in essential oils of certain plants such as parsley, dill. Myristicin affects the central nervous system (CNS) by enhancing the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (a hormone which increases heart rate and blood pressure). Thus, this effect on CNS causes visual and sensory hallucinations, dizziness, nausea, convulsions, palpitations, body pain, confusions & more.
How much intake is a menace to health?
It is recorded that humongous amounts of the spice is toxic to the body which can cause organ failure. In fact, even 10g of nutmeg is proven dangerous and symptoms usually occur within hours and lingers for around 10 hours or so.
In one case report, an 18- year old female complained of nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations and dry mouth. Although she didn’t report any hallucinations, she did mention feeling as if she was in trance like state. Studies shows that she had 50mg of nutmeg dissolved in her juice.
The most important concern that should be addressed is that, people should not use this is a source of recreation as the Myristicin toxicity can cause organ failure and death in many cases. “This is where people have to be really alert,” said Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Centre in Atlanta. “A person who has an unrecognized heart ailment could have problems that could lead to irregular rhythms. One plus one can add up to nine really quickly.”
One can outweigh the risk caused by nutmeg, by using very little amounts in cooking purposes (1/4th teaspoon is safe). So, feel free to enjoy the flavour of spice.
Also, if you have interests in reading about underrated herbs, do check out our article.