|Latin Name:||Myristica fragrans|
Description: The fruit of the nutmeg tree has long been cultivated for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Once the tropical evergreen reaches seven to eight years old, beautiful yellowish and red speckled flowers bloom and are then followed by the small fruit. Inside one will find little black seeds (the nutmeg) wrapped in red lacy aril (the mace). Both spices are collected and dried separately.
These spices are native to the Moluccas and are cultivated in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, where is was featured in Indian dishes and Asian medicines. Though the inhabitants of the Moluccas were able to live comfortably off of these spices, it was the Arab and Indian traders who became very wealthy from selling nutmeg all around the Indian ocean.
Delicious and exotic, the nutmeg spice became fashionable amongst wealthy Europeans in the 1600s. The spice was new, exciting and potent enough to induce hallucinations due to its myristicin content, which shares similar chemical components to mescaline, amphetamine and ecstasy. Though this was nothing new as the Benedictine abbess Hildegard of Bingen noted the mind-altering effects of nutmeg all the way back to the 12th century. The Europeans also valued nutmeg for its medicinal properties, believing nutmeg had to power to ward off viruses; they even thought it would prevent the bubonic plague. As a result, the spice became far more valuable than its weight in gold. It is important to note that nutmeg essential oil has no myristicin content and is toxic if taken internally.
The sweet and spicy aroma of nutmeg essential oil will activate the mind and bring comfort and warmth to the body. The oil has analgesic, anti-emetic, antioxidant, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, stimulating and emmenagogue properties.
Contraindications: May irritate sensitive skin. Taken internally, Nutmeg essential oil is very toxic. Maximum recommended levels in cosmetic creams 0.02%. Overuse of nutmeg can cause nausea, hallucinations, over-rapid heartbeat and stupor. Avoid during pregnancy. Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs caution that nutmeg is psychotropic and could be potentially carcinogenic. Some suggest to avoid with cardiac disease.