Botanical Name: Myristica fragrans
Part Used: Seed
Process: Steam Distillation
Nutmeg has many uses. As a culinary spice it is favored for its delightful warmth and tanginess. In the form of an essential oil it is noted for its ability to stimulate the digestive system and to help alleviate the pain associated with arthritis.
Plant Description: Native to India, Indonesia and Malaysia; grown commercially in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Grenada. Myristica fragrans is a bushy evergreen tree with many spreading branches covered with dense foliage that grows to a height of 65 feet; it bears either male or female flowers, or both, year-round with fruits reaching ripeness six months later. Both mace and nutmeg are obtained from the nutmeg’s outer, fleshy fruit and the seed inside, respectively, first undergoing an extensive and complex sorting, drying and curing period, after which they are graded by size and quality. It is interesting to note that nutmeg contains both fixed (vegetable) oil as well as essential oil, a fact that complicates the extraction of the essential oil. This is because the fixed oil tenaciously retains the essential oil content during distillation, resulting in low essential oil yields when sound, high quality nutmegs are distilled. But the nutmegs that are graded as broken and wormy are the most suitable for distillation, because the worms have eaten away most of the fixed oil content. Prior to distillation, the nutmeg shells are cracked open to expose the seeds which are carefully washed, sorted, thoroughly dried, and comminuted (crushed into powder).
Oil Description: Water-white to pale yellow mobile liquid with a sweet, fresh, spicy aroma, a rich, warm body note, and a slight but distinct terpeney top note.
Historical/Traditional Uses: Nutmeg has been traditionally used to improve circulation to muscles and joints, for relief of muscle pain, and for overcoming fatigue. It was highly esteemed in ancient civilizations – the Egyptians used it in the embalming process, and in India it was used for intestinal disorders. A mixture of nutmeg in lard was a well-known treatment for piles during the Middle Ages, and the Italians combined it with other spices and herbs in the form of incense to guard against outbreaks of the plague during the 14th-17th centuries.
Applications (Uses and Indications): In aromatherapy, Nutmeg essential oil is helpful in mediating stress response, in turn providing support to the adrenal glands for increased energy. It is useful for addressing the pain of arthritis, and is beneficial in the treatment of gout, bacterial infections, impotence, frigidity, indigestion, nausea, and neuralgia. Nutmeg is also reputed to help stimulate hair growth and has been a popular ingredient in hair preparations. In perfumery, Nutmeg essential oil is a middle to top note that blends well with balsam of Peru, black pepper, cinnamon, clary sage, clove, coriander, cumin, cypress, frankincense, galbanum, geranium, lavandin, lavender, lemon, lime, mandarin, melissa, oakmoss, orange, patchouli, petitgrain, rosemary ct cineol, sandalwood, tea tree, and ylang ylang.
Contraindications (Safety and Precautions): Nutmeg essential oil is generally non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing; however the use of this potent essential oil over long periods of time and/or in large amounts can result in toxic symptoms such as vomiting, stupor, delirium, convulsions, hallucinations, and rapid heartbeat (tachycardia). Prolonged inhalation may cause nausea. One teaspoon of the essential oil taken internally is said to be fatal. Please use with great care. Avoid use during pregnancy.
Standard Safety Precautions: Always dilute essential oils before using. Keep essential oils out of the eyes and mucous membranes; in case of contact, DO NOT use water, instead place a drop or two of vegetable oil on a tissue to gently wipe out of eye or off area of contact. In severe cases, seek professional help immediately. Keep out of the reach of children. In case of ingestion, call 911 immediately.
The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of this or any products from Ancient Ways Botanicals. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure, any disease. For external use only. You are responsible for understanding the safe application of these products.