Its time to get nutmegized…!!! Be it a sprinkling on eggnog, a blended latte or a spice cake, nutmeg is there for you. It has been praised for its extraordinary uses and medicinal properties. Nutmeg has a brown look but has a spicy and sweet flavor that warms your mind. Let’s have a look at some of the distinctive features of Nutmeg such as origin, uses and effects.
Nutmeg is derived from the evergreen tree known as Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg is not a single spice but two, the other being mace (dry lacy membrane of the seed) which is also used in various foods. Grown in the tropical regions of Southeast Asia, the nutmeg tree comes in various species such as Fragrant Nutmeg, Bombay Nutmeg etc.
Quite popular with the Arabs, Venetians & Europe during the middle ages, Nutmeg possesses quite some medicinal properties such as relieving cold, better eye sight, promoting brain development, mouth & stomach or even spleen. Nutmeg is also a great detoxifier that removes unwanted toxins from your liver and also prevents kidney stones. Nutmeg is even extracted as oil which can be applied on the body if you are suffering from joint pain which relieves you from any type of inflammation.
Currently, nutmeg plantations are seen in many countries such as India, Caribbean Islands, Malaysia, Sri Lanka etc. and used for many culinary uses such as custards, soups, sauces or sweet potatoes. Though they are easily affordable now, it was quite expensive few years ago.
For those who are not aware, nutmeg is actually a fruit with a single seed. This makes the whole package a drupe. The fruit is intertwined and is quite soft inside, As the seed grows, the nutmeg breaks from the mace in a lace type pattern. Nutmeg fruit is oval shaped and green when young. It changes to yellow when mature and breaks into two halves when rich and ripe. The nutmeg fruit has many benefits such as for blood pressure, heart disorders, cough, etc. It is also a stimulant and is known for its sedative and antiseptic properties and can cure depression, anxiety etc. You can also use nutmeg fruit to make juice. The taste is sweet and sour which prevents gas and fermentation in the body. Many even say that the fruit will cleanse the whole body and its system.
Uses of Nutmeg:
Did you know that the nutmeg tree can deliver upto 3 times more yields in a single season??? A single nutmeg can benefit many. It has many uses for you, both internally and externally. For instance, the nutmeg oil can relieve you from the pain of toothache or even bad breath. Legends have it that nutmeg was used as an aphrodisiac which gave rise to a variety of love potions and its rituals following by. It is also used in sweet/spicy dishes such as pies, soups and other vegetable dishes.
The oil of nutmeg is also used as one of the natural flavoring agents in many foods such as beverages, sweets, baked goods etc. It is much better than ground nutmeg as it doesn’t leave any residue in the food. It is also used in many random products such as toothpaste, cough syrups etc. Habituated to a forgetful memory? No problem. Simple intake of nutmeg oil will charge your memory boosters and improve the blood/oxygen circulation level in your brain. It also helps in removing fatigue or stress.
Nutmeg contains various vital components such as vitamins, riboflavin, niacin and other antioxidants which is beneficial for your health. It is also included in many therapeutic medicines as it contains antifungal, antidepressant and digestive properties.
If you are looking for a skin care, then nutmeg is there for you. Yes, believe it or not, many of the top skin products use Nutmeg to get a smoother and healthier skin. It is also used to relieve you from many skin problems. Those who are suffering from acne, black heads etc, nutmeg can reduce the visibility of scars. A simple combination of nutmeg powder and honey will work wonders on your acnes.
Nutmeg as a spice:
Nutmeg and mace are both spices of the same tree. Mace is nothing but the outer membrane that contains the seed nutmeg inside. Nutmeg contains a spicy & pungent aroma but is sweeter than mace which is one of the reasons it is also termed as a spice and included in various foods. From soups to sausages or puddings to pies, Nutmeg has been favored by all. It is also used as an important spice in breads, muffins or even cookies.
Nutmeg also works well with Allspice (also known as Jamaica pepper), sugar, vanilla, coriander, cranberries, cinnamon, ginger and cumin. You can add nutmeg for your spicy dishes like beans, cabbage, onion, carrots, seafood chowders, yams or even coffee drinks.
For those who want the real taste of nutmeg, it would be best to use whole nutmeg and grate them using small grater holes. Do note to use smaller doses of nutmeg keeping the pros/cons factors in mind.
Dosage of using Nutmeg and its various side effects:
There are many controversies surrounding the dosage of consuming nutmeg. Many researches say that while small dosage will do no harm, consuming more than 2 tbsp can lead to various side effects. Some of the noted side effects are nausea, burning pain in the abdomen, asthma etc. Many clinical studies have been done regarding the dosage of Nutmeg and how it affects people. Some of the side effects shown when taken in large doses are:
- Contains psychoactive properties that induces unnecessary fear or anxiety
- Allergic reactions such as dermatitis
- Decreased salivation, flushing etc.
- GI symptoms
It has also been noted that pregnant women or breastfeeding women should not use Nutmeg so as to prevent abortions or birth defects. There are much to discover about nutmeg and its effects on breastfeeding and it is best suggested for pregnant ladies or those who are trying to conceive to stay away from them.
Dating back from 1800s, India has used the spice nutmeg in the form of snuff. It has also been used as smoking, snorting or even heavy consumption of nutmeg which satisfies the user with the desired level of intoxication. The hallucinogenic properties in the nutmeg was popularly craved for although in US it never really was in demand. But today there are many users in US too and is popular among the drug culture who want to get the high of everything and are willing to try anything such as poppy seeds to banana peels. Nutmeg has also been compared to marijuana (another drug) due to its drug triggering effect in one’s body. Smoking nutmeg is one of the current ‘fad’ amongst many drug users without knowing the dangerous arena it leads one to. While for some this is an addiction, others just want to test the level of high.
Nutmeg contains a drug known as myristicin which gets converted when ingested in the body into amphetamine. Large doses of nutmeg smoking can drive you off the cliff without any warning. Though the intoxication can take some time to deliver the result, the effects will last for several days. A clinical study shows that while normal smoking takes some time to get evolved with the bloodstream, nutmeg smoking on the other hand, doesn’t have enough patience and will give immediate results.
Overall, it can be said that nutmeg has been in this earth for centuries but smokers who indulge in nutmeg are rare and do not show up easily. Even possessing intoxicant or drug inducing properties has not put nutmeg amongst the popular drug list. Why? For a simple reason that nutmeg doesn’t carry that much high as many desire but it still can deliver many side effects and is equally dangerous. So better keep away from it.
Interesting facts about nutmeg:
Before you go, here are some interesting facts about nutmeg which will help you to know more about the nut.
- Nutmeg and mace is a native tree of the Banda Islands in Indonesia. Nutmeg and mace both produce different aromas and spices.
- If kept as a whole in air tight containers, nutmeg has the same flavor and effect, but when powdered, nutmeg loses its flavor easily.
- Mace is much more costly than nutmeg for the simple reason that you can get only lesser yields (ten times less) than that of nutmeg.
- Nutmeg works well with any dishes, be it sweet or spicy.
- Always a good choice to use whole nutmeg and then grate them, when required.