Nutmeg, also known as Pala in Indonesia, is a lovely warming spice derived from the seed of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), which is native to Indonesia but also cultivated in other tropical regions around the world. The nutmeg seed is oval-shaped and about the size of a small plum.

Nutmeg Trees

People use Nutmeg as a general name for many trees in the Myristica family. These trees grow mainly in Indonesia, specifically the Banda Islands. Nutmeg as a spice is now known the world over.

The Nutmeg tree is unusual in that it is the source of two separate spices, namely Nutmeg and Mace. Nutmeg is from the seed of the tree, Mace is from the aril, which is the reddish seed covering.

Several other commercial products are also produced from the trees, including essential oils, extracted oleoresins, and nutmeg butter.

It takes 7 – 9 years for Nutmeg trees to produce the first crop of nutmeg, and it is 20 years before the trees are at their full production.

How Nutmeg Spice is Produced from Nutmeg Seeds

Nutmeg spice is made from the seeds of the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans). The process of making nutmeg spice involves several steps:

Harvesting: Nutmeg trees produce yellowish fruits, known as nutmeg apples, which contain the seeds or nuts. These fruits are harvested when they ripen and split open, revealing the seeds surrounded by a bright red, net-like aril called mace.

Separation of Mace and Nutmeg: After harvesting, the nutmeg apples are opened to remove the seeds and the mace covering them. The mace and nutmeg seeds are separated manually or using machines.

Drying: The nutmeg seeds are then spread out to dry, either in the sun or in drying facilities. Drying helps to reduce the moisture content of the seeds and preserve them for storage and further processing.

Shelling: Once dried, the outer shell or husk of the nutmeg seeds is removed to reveal the brown, aromatic nutmeg kernels inside. This can be done manually or using specialized equipment.

Grinding: The nutmeg kernels are ground into a fine powder using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. This powdered form is what is commonly known as nutmeg spice.

Packaging: Finally, the ground nutmeg spice is packaged and sealed to maintain its freshness and flavor. It can then be distributed for sale in supermarkets, spice shops, or used in various culinary applications.

The resulting nutmeg spice has a warm, slightly sweet flavor and is commonly used to add aroma and flavor to a wide range of dishes, including baked goods, desserts, soups, stews, and beverages. Additionally, nutmeg spice is often used in traditional medicine and aromatherapy for its potential health benefits and soothing properties.

Health Benefits of Nutmeg

In addition to its culinary uses, nutmeg has been used in traditional medicine for its potential health benefits, such as; promoting digestion, relieving pain, improving cognitive function and acting as a natural sleep aid. Nutmeg may be part of a healthy diet thanks to trace minerals found in this plant: potassiumcalciumiron and manganese.

Nutmeg for Relaxation

Nutmeg may potentially reduce anxiety due to its effects on neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Compounds found in nutmeg, such as myristicin and elemicin, may interact with neurotransmitter receptors, including those for serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in mood regulation.

By modulating the activity of these neurotransmitters, nutmeg may help alleviate feelings of anxiety and promote relaxation. When mixed with warm milk, nutmeg can relax the body and help you to fall asleep more easily. This is why some people seek nutmeg as an aid to reduce anxiety.

However, it’s important to note that the evidence supporting nutmeg’s efficacy for anxiety is limited, and excessive consumption can have adverse effects.

Nutmeg for Brain Health

Nutmeg can be taken to stimulate the brain and to ward off stress and lack of energy. Nutmeg contains compounds like myristicin and elemicin, which may have neuroprotective effects. These compounds have been shown to possess antioxidant properties, which can help protect brain cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.

Myristicin can also be effective against Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions. Additionally, nutmeg contains certain volatile oils that may enhance brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain and improving neurotransmitter activity.

Nutmeg for Pain & Inflammation

The Chinese often include nutmeg in traditional medicine preparations for patients who are suffering from pain or inflammation. Nutmeg is currently used for a variety of pain, from general aches to arthritis. Some practitioners also use the essential oil for rubbing on joints or other parts of the body that are experiencing pain.

Nutmeg contains compounds like myristicin, elemicin and eugenol which possess analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds can inhibit the release of inflammatory mediators and reduce the activity of enzymes involved in the inflammatory process.

Additionally, nutmeg may interact with neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, modulating pain perception.

Antibacterial Effects of Nutmeg

The antibacterial properties of Nutmeg may help relieve inflammation and sores, and are also useful if you suffer from bad breath. General gum and mouth sores or infections may be relieved with nutmeg, which is certainly more pleasant than garlic cloves! Add a bit to your toothpaste for a fresh taste and daily cleanse. Nutmeg essential oil can be used on a sore tooth.

Nutmeg ingredients such as macelignan may also be effective against strep throat because of their effect as an antibacterial agent.

Nutmeg for Appetite & Digestion

For people suffering from a lack of appetite, nutmeg may help. Nutmeg contains compounds that can stimulate the digestive system and increase appetite. One such compound is myristicin, which has been shown to have stimulating effects on the gastrointestinal tract.

Additionally, nutmeg has aromatic properties that can enhance the flavor and aroma of food, making it more appealing and appetizing. These combined effects may contribute to nutmeg’s ability to increase appetite. However, it’s essential to use nutmeg in moderation, as excessive consumption can lead to adverse effects.

Nutmeg can also relieve gastrointestinal distress, such as bloating, by removing excess gas from the body.

Nutmeg for Liver & Kidneys

Some people also believe that nutmeg can help two other organs: the liver and kidneys. Nutmeg removes toxins that can build up in both organs. Furthermore, nutmeg can help remove stubborn kidney stones, allowing them to be passed naturally.

Nutmeg for Skin Conditions

As an essential oil, nutmeg can be applied to the skin. A lesser-known version of nutmeg products is nutmeg butter, which can actually be used in place of cocoa butter in cosmetic products.

Nutmeg may be mixed with other ingredients to form a paste or cream for topical use to help improve skin conditions. Nutmeg, mixed with orange lentil powder or honey, creates an effective scrub that may relieve blackheads and even reduce marks from acne.

Nutmeg essential oil can also be applied to the skin to help relieve skin conditions. It is usually mixed with another oil or cream first to dilute it.

How to Take Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a versatile spice used in baking, cooking, and beverage preparation, adding depth of flavor to dishes like pies, cakes, cookies, custards, soups, sauces, and meat dishes. Many people use Nutmeg for its flavor, especially in Autumn as temperatures dip. It also has great health benefits. Simply adding nutmeg to recipes where it will bring a warm, sweet, and slightly spicy flavor.

It is commonly used in both sweet and savory dishes and is grated or ground before use. Consider nutmeg in soups or sprinkled on treats such as pumpkin pie or warm milk drinks. Nutmeg may also go well in hot chocolate, and on top of hot cereals such as oatmeal.

As a spice, Nutmeg is usually taken in powder form. Some recommend no more than a sprinkle, while others intake 1/4 teaspoon on a daily basis, added to food and drink.

Always take care when taking herbs and Read Our Disclaimer.

Nutmeg Notes / Side Effects

It’s essential to use nutmeg in moderation, as excessive consumption can lead to adverse effects due to its high concentration of compounds like myristicin. Consuming large amounts of nutmeg can cause symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, dry mouth, hallucinations, and in extreme cases even toxicity.

In addition, large doses of nutmeg can also lead to dehydration over a period of time. Therefore, it’s best to use nutmeg sparingly and in culinary amounts to avoid potential side effects.

Large doses of nutmeg may cause psychoactive effects such as:
Delirium Convulsions Palpitations Nausea Body pain

Furthermore, pregnant women shouldn’t use nutmeg because it prevents the body from producing prostaglandin, which is necessary in the birthing process. A few people may experience a topical allergic reaction to nutmeg.

In combination with drug Flunitrazepam, a sleeping medication also known as Rohypnol, nutmeg can be fatal (1).


  1. Stein, U.; Greyer, H.; Hentschel, H. N”utmeg (myristicin) poisoning–report on a fatal case and a series of cases recorded by a poison information centre”. Forensic Science International 2001.

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