Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, Uses of Nutmeg, Herb, herbal remedy

Myristica fragrans Myristicaceae

Found in tropical countries, such as Brazil, Indonesia and the West Indies, the nutmeg tree can grow to a height of 20m. It has shiny evergreen foliage, but its clusters if delicate, yellow flowers do not appear until the tree is seven years old. The fleshy, pale yellow fruits each contain one large seed - the'nut' - enclosed first in a hard, woody casing, then in a red or orangey membrane, known as mace.

Parts used

  • Seeds (nuts)
  • The fruit is mostly picked in July and August, and the seeds removed.
  • Using steam, about 8 to 15 per cent of the essential oil is extracted together with nutmeg butter (used in the pharmaceutical industry).


Nutmeg's essential oil, which has a sharp taste and a peppery smell, is composed mainly of camphene and pinene, but also contains myristicin which is toxic.

Medicinal uses

Although nutmeg ~ssential oil is reputed to be an aphrodisiac and tonic, it is seldom used for these purposes because of the toxicity of its myristicin content. Instead, it is reserved almost exclusively for use externally, as an anti-inflammatory remedy for joint pains, muscular injuries, rheumatism and tendinitis.

However, scientists in India have shown that the essential oil can help to lower blood cholesterol and to decrease fatty deposits around the liver, heart, and the aorta. In addition, Nigerian studies have shown that the essential oil can inhibit the formation of blood clots. All this evidence suggests that nutmeg could be useful in protecting against blockages and hardening of the arteries and associated heart and circulatory problems. Studies have also shown that it can lower harmful cholesterol.

One reason that nutmeg is used as a spice is because it aids digestion, and clinical studies have discovered that it can help to treat diarrhea


For external use

TO TREAT joint pains, muscle injuries, rheumatism, tendinitis ESSENTIAL Oil Dilute, using 3 drops of essential oil to SOml carrier oil. Apply directly to the affected area up to three times a day, or add to a daily bath.



Grow from seeds when ripe, or woody cuttings at the end of the growing season. Use rich, welldrained sandy soil, preferably in a greenhouse heated to a minimum of 15-18░C and with high humidity.


  • Nutmeg's essential oil must never be ingested. The myristicin in it is toxic, and can cause dizziness, headaches and hallucinations, and irritates the digestive system.
  • Externally, the essential oil must only be used sparingly for short periods, as it can irritate the skin.
  • Consult a medical herbalist before considering internal use.


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