Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans): Multiple Health Benefits

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Nutmeg (also known as pala in Indonesia) is one of the two spices – the other being mace – derived from several species of tree in the genus Myristica. The most important commercial species is Myristica fragrans.

Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, roughly egg shaped and about 20 to 30 mm (0.8 to 1.2 in) long and 15 to 18 mm (0.6 to 0.7 in) wide, and weighing between 5 and 10 g (0.2 and 0.4 oz) dried, while mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering or aril of the seed.

If nutmeg is taken in large doses, it can have pychoactive effects.  Nutmeg powder contains myristicin, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor.  Myristicin poisoning can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain.  In lower doses, there is typically no pychoactive effect. 

A 1/4 teaspoon added to a smoothie each day should not produce any pychoactive effects.

The Table below lists some of the recognized and researched health benefits of nutmeg:

Health Benefits of Nutmeg

CategoryBenefitReference
Anxiety
May reduce anxietyA
Cholesterol
M. myristica possess cholesterol lowering potentials and protective ability in experimental hypercholesterolemia rat model.B
Depression
May exert antidepressant effects in depression patientsC
Learning
May improve learning abilityD
Leukemia
Methanol extract of Myristica fragrans Houtt induced apoptosis of Jurkat leukemia T cell line in a mechanisms involving SIRTI mRNA downregulation.E
Memory
May improve memoryF


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