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Nutmeg

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  • Botanical: Myristica fragrans
  • Family: Myristicaceae
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Nutmeg

Botanical

Myristica fragrans

Family

Myristicaceae

Known as

Nutmeg, Mace, Muskat, Muskatblüte, Macis

Old Use

culinary; medicinal

Collection Times

July or August

Parts Used

seed

Aroma

spicy, sweet, woody

Medicinal

abdominal pain, anxiety, arthritis, back pain, circulation, constipation, diarrhea, digestion, eczema, fatigue, flatulence, gout, herpes, liver weakness, insomnia, menstruation promotion, muscle pain, nausea, neuralgia, pain relief, rheumatism, stomach pain, stress relief, toothache, stomach cramps

Muscle & Joints

back pain, joint pain, lower back pain (lumbago), muscle cramps, muscle pain, rheumatism, spasm

Mind & Nerves

anxiety, insomnia, irritability, neuralgia, neurasthenia, stress relief

Stomach & Intestinal

abdominal pain, bowel cleansing, diarrhea, digestion, flatulence, laxative, liver weakness, nausea

Skin & Hair

bruises

Properties

antibacterial, antispasmodic, astringent, digestive

Note

middle

Extraction

steam distillation

Description

The tree is about 25 feet high, has a greyish-brown smooth bark, abounding in a yellow juice. The branches spread in whorls - alternate leaves, on petioles about 1 inch long, elliptical, glabrous, obtuse at base - acuminate, aromatic, dark green and glossy above, paler underside and 4 to 6 inches long. Flowers dioecious, small in axillary racemes.

Peduncles and pedicles glabrous. Male flowers three to five more on a peduncle. Calyx urceolate, thick and fleshy, covered with an indistinct reddish pubescence dingy pale yellow, cut into three erect teeth. Female flowers differ little from the male, except pedicel is often solitary.

Fruit is a pendulous, globose drupe, consisting of a succulent pericarp - the mace arillus covering the hard endocarp, and a wrinkled kernel with ruminated endosperm. When the arillus is fresh it is a brilliant scarlet, when dry more horny, brittle, and a yellowish-brown colour.

The seed or nutmeg is firm, fleshy, whitish, transversed by red-brown veins, abounding in oil. The tree does not bloom till it is nine years old, when it fruits and continues to do so for seventy-five years without attention.

Properties & Uses

Nutmeg and mace spice contains many plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing, and health promoting properties.

The spicy nut contains fixed oil trimyristin and many essential volatile oils such as which gives a sweet aromatic flavor to nutmeg like myristicin, elemicin, eugenol and safrole. The other volatile-oils are pinene, camphene, dipentene, cineole, linalool, sabinene, safrole, terpeniol.

The active principles in nutmeg have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as anti-fungal, anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, digestive, and carminative functions.

This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.

It is also rich in many vital B-complex vitamins, including vitamin C, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin A and many flavonoid anti-oxidants like beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin that are essential for optimum health.

Medicinal uses
Since ancient times, nutmeg and its oil were being used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicines for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. The compounds in this spice such as myristicin and elemicin have been soothing as well as stimulant properties on brain.
Nutmeg oil contains eugenol, which has been used in dentistry for toothache relief.
The oil is also used as a local massage to reduce muscular pain and rheumatic pain of joints.
Freshly prepared decoction with honey has been used to relief of nausea, gastritis, and indigestion ailments.

Cautions

Nutmeg was once considered an abortifacient, but may be safe for culinary use during pregnancy. However, it inhibits prostaglandin production and contains hallucinogens that may affect the fetus if consumed in large quantities

Distribution

Banda Islands, Malayan Archipelago, Molucca Islands, and cultivated in Sumatra, French Guiana.

Constituents

 lignin, stearin, volatile oil, starch, gum and 0.08 of an acid substance.