Nutmeg has been an integral ingredient in many recipes worldwide throughout the ages. These range from haggis in Scotland to oxtail soup and Indonesian meatballs, chutney in India, and as part of the stuffing for many regional Italian meat-filled dumplings such as tortellini, as well as meatloaf.
In addition, cooks in the Netherlands often add it to rice pudding as well as vegetable dishes including string beans, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes, while several varieties of Japanese curry powder incorporate nutmeg as one of their ingredients.
Other uses include Caribbean cocktails such as Barbados rum punch, the “Bushwhacker,” and “The Painkiller” (a blend of Pusser’s Rum with 4 parts pineapple juice, 1 part cream of coconut and 1 part orange juice), just to give you a taste. Meanwhile, nutmeg remains the main spice for pumpkin pie in the US and often used to enhance the flavor of baked acorn squash, as well as sprinkled on mulled wine and eggnog at Christmastime.
While most people may simply think of nutmeg as a great way to “spike-up” the taste of their favorite foods and beverages, the truth is that this seemingly “innocent spice” can carry a powerful punch, causing hallucinations and convulsions when ingested on its own Even as little as 0,2 ounces of freshly ground raw nutmeg can lead to a state of intoxication involving feelings of confusion and agitation, paranoia and hallucinations accompanied by nausea, headaches, dizziness, memory lapses, dry mouth and bloodshot eyes thanks to the fact that it is rich in a myristicm, a psychoactive chemical that affects the brain and nervous system.
In fact, an article published by the Daily Meal back in 2004 warns that .0.3 oz of nutmeg can cause seizures, while “eating one whole one will supposedly lead to a type of ‘nutmeg psychosis,’ which includes a sense of impending doom.” As a result, Saudi Arabia has banned the importation of either whole or ground nutmeg. Ironically, nutmeg was widely traded by Arabs during the Middle Ages.
Nutmeg Medicinal Benefits
Despite the dangers, the myristicin found in nutmeg has also been prized by many cultures for its medicinal value. Not only did the ancient Greeks and Romans recognize it as “brain tonic” for improving concentration, they found it useful as a remedy for anxiety, depression, and stress, while traditional Chinese healers use nutmeg oils both a sedative, as well as alleviating excess intestinal gas, boosting appetite, and detoxing liver and kidneys.
In addition, it has been found that a tonic made with nutmeg can not only prevent the formation of kidney stones, it can also dissolve them. Meanwhile, nutmeg oil can help soothe sore muscles and joints when rubbed on afflicted areas.
Because of its antibacterial properties, a mouth rinse made from nutmeg can also kill bacteria that causes bad breath, while a scrub combining nutmeg powder and orange lentil powder can improve skin tone by removing excess oil that block pores At the same time, a paste made by mixing nutmeg powder mixed with honey reportedly reduces the appearance of acne scars. However, readers are cautioned not to resort to any nutmeg “remedies” without first consulting with their healthcare providers.
Danger to Dogs
Although safe for human consumption, nutmeg is highly toxic to dogs and can cause nervous system disorders including tremors and seizures that can be fatal. As a result, people should never feed their animals anything containing the spice, and be especially vigilant during holiday times when leaving cups of eggnog and other foods known to contain nutmeg within reach of their pets.