Nutmeg, and its sister spice, mace, are commonly obtained from an evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans. This species is native to the Banda islands in the Moluccas of Indonesia. Nutmeg is brown in color, roughly egg shaped, and weighs between 5 and 10 grams when it is dried. It is actually the seed of the tree and not the nut, as the name suggests. It is well-known for its culinary uses. It is used in a variety of sweet as well as savory dishes. However, there are some different properties of nutmeg, that many are not aware of. It is the psycho-activity and toxicity that I'm talking about. In simpler words, I'm referring to nutmeg intoxication.
Nutmeg - Psychoactive Agent
It contains myristicin, which is a psychoactive compound belonging to the deliriant class of drugs. Myristicin is a potent narcotic compound that can cause hallucinations if consumed in a high amount. Nutmeg, apart from acting as a spice, can produce a high that is similar to that produced by marijuana. It may also be responsible for several other side effects.
It is often used in the preparation of many dishes, including the famous eggnog. But a sprinkle of nutmeg on top of your eggnog is not going to cause the hallucinations. One must consume several grams of nutmeg in order to feel the psychedelic effects. A dose of about two tablespoons, which is between 5 and 15 grams of grated nutmeg can get you high, by inducing a narcotic reaction. The effect takes several hours to reach the peak, just like other deliriants. It takes about 6 hours for an individual to begin feeling the effects, which can range from a mild high to a full blown inebriated experience with visual as well as auditory hallucinations.
Effects of Nutmeg Intoxication
- Dry mouth
- Body pain
- Irritation of the skin
- Abdominal spasms
- Chest pain
- Fear of Death
- Numbing of extremities
- Breathing Difficulties
- Rapid heartbeat
Nutmeg - Recreational Drug
Nutmeg as a recreational drug is not very popular, the reason being its strong taste, and the undesired side effects produced on consuming it. Though used as a spice in many preparations, it is difficult to consume directly because of its horribly bitter taste. Its strong taste and texture alone, is sufficient in causing nausea and vomiting. Moreover, dry mouth, that accompanies its use is very unpleasant. However the effects of the intoxication last for at least 24 hours. Being inexpensive and readily available, its use as a recreational drug is quite common in prison inmates who have access to the kitchen, and also with those who are unable to obtain illicit drugs.
Complications that could arise due to abuse of nutmeg powder, include hypotension, cyanosis (skin becomes bluish), acidosis, coma, and even death. Since the ingestion of the substance causes the mouth to become dry, there is a chance of it causing choking sensations that could lead to asphyxiation. Also, since it is in the form of a powder, it could accidentally enter the lungs, where it could obstruct the airways, and eventually cause excessive lung damage, and even death. Chronic psychosis may also develop as a consequence of prolonged use of nutmeg.
Hence, despite the fact that nutmeg is incredible cheap, and its purchase is legal, the fact remains that its use as a psychotropic drug is neither safe nor pleasant. But if the aforementioned side-effects and complications do not deter you, it may indicate an addictive nature. Doctors and researchers, alike, advise against the use of nutmeg as anything other than a spice.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.