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Nutmeg (Jaiphal): Uses, Benefits, Precautions & More!

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction: 

Nutmeg is a shelled, dried seed derived from Myristica fragrans, a tropical evergreen tree. Nutmeg contains several health benefits and is a source of many proteins, minerals, oils, and resins. Myristica fragrans grows in tropical regions like Indonesia and Malaysia.

Different species of this tree are dispersed in Sri Lanka, India, and North-Eastern Australia. Apart from being used for beneficial purposes, nutmeg oil is also used as a fragrance in cosmetics.

Nutmeg powder and seeds

Worms are left to feed on nutmeg seeds as a part of the distillation process in the preparation of nutmeg oil. The worms remove starch and fat from the seed resulting in a portion rich in oil. 1 

Did you know?

  • Nutmeg is a good source of manganese, providing 73% of the daily recommended intake. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov
  • Nutmeg is rich in antioxidants, which can help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov
  • Nutmeg has been used in traditional medicine to aid digestion and relieve gastrointestinal issues. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov
  • Nutmeg has been used as a natural remedy for insomnia and sleep disorders due to its sedative properties. source: fdc.nal.usda.gov

Nutritional Value of Nutmeg: 

Nutmeg is a rich source of fiber and is also a source of iron, zinc, phosphorous, copper, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and magnesium.  2

Carbohydrates 38% 
Protein 10% 
Cholesterol 0% 
Energy 26% 
Dietary fiber 55% 
Vitamin C 5% 
Vitamin A 3.5% 
Sodium 1% 
Potassium 7.5% 
Calcium 18% 
Copper 114% 
Iron 38% 
Zinc 20% 
Phosphorous 30% 
Magnesium 46% 
Manganese 126% 
In 100 grams, below are the nutrients found in nutmeg: 2  

Properties of Nutmeg:  

Nutmeg is used for a variety of health conditions due to its medicinal properties such as: 3 

  • It may have anti-inflammatory properties  
  • It may have expectorant (removing sputum from the airways)  activity
  • It may have antiseptic properties  
  • It might show hypocholesterolemic (cholesterol-lowering)  properties
  • It may have stimulant properties    
  • It may show Carminative (preventing gas accumulation)  activity
  • It may show anticancer  properties
  • It may show analgesic (pain-relieving)  activity
  • It may show anti-depressant  properties3

Potential Uses of Nutmeg

Potential uses of Nutmeg for the Brain:  

Nutmeg (Jaiphal) might acts as a stimulant for the brain and helps in reducing stress. It can aid in mental activities. It may help in improving concentration and might enhance the blood circulation to the brain. It is essential to consume nutmeg in moderation as an excess of it can lead to delirium.2  Due to the risk involved with nutmeg it is advisable to have it only when prescribed by a qualified doctor.

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for the Heart:  

Nutmeg may be a great tonic for the cardiovascular system. It might enhances blood circulation and improves heart functions.2  Thus it may have some effect on your heart health. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor for heart related issues.

Also Read: Indian Diet Chart for Heart Patients

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for the Kidney and Liver:  

Nutmeg oil might work as a tonic for the liver, due to its ability to eliminate toxins. It might aid in managing kidney infections and can help with kidney stones.2  Further studies are needed to understand the exact effect of nutmeg on humans. You must consume nutmeg only if prescribed.

Also Read: 8 Home Remedies for Kidney Stones

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for Sound Sleep:  

Nutmeg may be an effective remedy for insomnia (sleeplessness). It might enhance serotonin levels which can help in relaxation. It can be taken with a beverage or even dessert.2  Nutmeg consumption should be done under supervision of an Ayurvedic physician.

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for Bad Breath:  

Nutmeg oil might be effective in managing bad breath. It contains antiseptic properties and this might aid in curing tooth pain and gums problems. Due to this property, this oil might be incorporated in many types of toothpaste.

You can also take nutmeg in your diet if prescribed by your dentist for toothache.5  

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for digestion:  

Nutmeg might help in managing digestion-related problems such as constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating. Nutmeg can possibly function as a digestive tonic by improving peristalsis and secretion of different gastric juices and enzymes.6  These effects of nutmeg are yet to be proven thus follow the advice of your doctors for any digestive issues.

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for Pain:  

Nutmeg might be helpful in abdominal pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Nutmeg oil can be used in the management of joint pain, and muscular pain. Taking nutmeg with food might help relieve pain due to wounds, arthritis, and injuries. Topical application of nutmeg powder with sesame oil may reduce rheumatic pain, neuralgia.6  However you must visit your doctor and follow their advice before consuming nutmeg for pain management.

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for Cancer  

The essential oil of myristica fragrans exhibits a cytotoxic effect (killing cancer cells) in studies. The covering of nutmeg seeds might contain chemoprotective (helps against harmful effects of cancer treatment) properties. It might reduce the incidence of skin papilloma. Nutmeg might decrease the extent of cancer.6  Cancer is a serious condition and should be diagnosed and treated only by a qualified doctors. Please do not self medicate.

Potential Uses of Nutmeg for Teeth:  

Nutmeg may contain anti-bacterial properties and a strong inhibitory effect against streptococcus mutans, an oral pathogen which is responsible for cavities in the teeth. Nutmeg may be also helpful in the treatment of periodontitis (a condition where there is inflammation of the supporting structures of the tooth), because of its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.  Thus, nutmeg might be helpful if incorporated in the daily oral hygiene ritual.6  

In my experience, nutmeg has been used by people all across the world in cooking and as a component of folk remedies. Stomach pains, diarrhoea, and rheumatism may have all been traditionally managed throughout Asia using it with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

How to take Nutmeg: 

Nutmeg can be taken into your diet in several ways like1 

  • Adding nutmeg to coffee, tea, warm milk, or hot chocolate.  
  • Using it for seasoning vegetables.  
  • Sprinkling it over breakfast cereals.  
  • Sprinkling nutmeg over your favorite fruit.    
  • Using it as an ingredient in baked goods.    
  • Adding it to seasonal beverages like mulled cider and mulled wine.    

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.  

From my perspective, antioxidants, which are abundant in nutmeg, may help fend against ageing symptoms and major diseases including cancer, heart disease, and liver disorders.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Side Effects of Nutmeg: 

  • Nutmeg might produce side effects similar to that of anticholinergic poisoning. When taken in large dose, it might lead to neurological symptoms like tingling, hallucinations, giddiness and euphoria. There might be delirium and extreme drowsiness following these symptoms.  
  • The common unpleasant side effects include vomiting, dizziness, nausea, abdominal pain, headache, tremor, chest pain, and tremor. Nutmeg contains elemicin and myristicin which are narcotic and produce psychotropic effects (affecting mental activity).  
  • Consuming large quantities of nutmeg might also produce temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, and increased fat accumulation in the liver. Powdered nutmeg can be helpful as a hallucinogenic drug, but excess intake might lead to delirium and epileptic convulsions. 7 

Precautions to take with Nutmeg (Jaiphal): 

  • Taking nutmeg is not safe to take during pregnancy and must be avoided. Pregnant women might present with agitation, palpitations, anxiety, dry mouth, blurred vision, and chest tightening when taken in large amounts.  
  • It is essential to not take it in high doses since it possesses narcotic effects.  
  • It might trigger asthma and cause allergies.    
  • There is not sufficient information about the safety of consuming nutmeg during breastfeeding. It is better to avoid taking nutmeg while breastfeeding.  8,1  

Also Read: Shikakai – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

It is essential to keep in mind not to use nutmeg while using any of these medications: 8, 9   Therefore, your Ayurvedic physician’s advice is to be followed thoroughly, as their prescription is based on keeping your health condition in mind. Please ensure to disclose all medications prescribed and currently being used to your doctor at the time of consultation.

Drying Medications (anticholinergic drugs)

Nutmeg might reduce the efficiency of these drugs.

Medications Metabolized by the Liver

Some drugs are broken down by the liver. Consuming nutmeg with such  medications might produce certain side effects. Hence, it is essential to be cautious while taking this combination. You can talk to your physician before consumption.

Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) Inhibitors (medications for Alzheimer’s disease)

Intake of nutmeg along with these medications might increase the side effects of the medications taken for Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, it is better to talk to your healthcare provider before taking this combination.

CNS Depressants or Sedative Medications

Taking nutmeg might result in drowsiness. Sedatives also produce sleepiness. Taking these together might lead to pathological sleepiness that can be dangerous.

Medications used for glaucoma etc. (Cholinergic drugs)

Nutmeg consumption can increase some chemicals in the brain, heart, and other parts of the body. Few medications used in the management of glaucoma, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions might also affect these chemicals. Taking these medications with nutmeg can result in the development of side effects.

Also Read: Safed Musli – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the cosmetic uses of nutmeg?  

Apart from being used for medicinal purposes, leaves and bark of nutmeg have essential oils that are being used for producing soaps, perfumes, candles, and ointment. 2 

2) Can nutmeg be used for acne?  

Yes, equal portions of nutmeg and black pepper could be mixed and used topically to get rid of acne. 2  Consult your dermatologist for better advice.

3) Can nutmeg be used in cough syrups?  

Yes, nutmeg contains expectorant properties and is used in cough syrups. It is also useful in aromatherapy. 2  However, further studies are required to estimate its benefits for humans

4) What are the other names of nutmeg?  

Nutmeg is known by other names like jaatipatree, jatiphal, myristica, myristica fragrans, myristica officinalis, nux moschata, jatiphala, muscade, and muskatbaum. 1 

5) Is nutmeg found in India?  

In India, nutmeg is cultivated in Tamilnadu, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, and North East India.10

Also Read: Black Salt – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions 

References: 

  1. Planet Ayurveda. Jatiphala, Jaiphal (myristica fragrans)- Uses, benefits, Ayurvedic properties, and dosage. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/library/jatiphala-myristica-fragrans/  
  1. Agbogidi, O.M, and Axagbackwe, O.P; health and nutritional benefits of nutmeg (mystica fragrans houtt.). Scientia Agriculturae. 2013 1(2): 40-44 Available from:  
  1. Namra Naeem, Rafia Rehman, Ayesha Mushtaq;Nutmeg: A review on uses and biological properties. International journal of chemical and biochemical sciences. 2016 (9): 107-110 Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336825717_Nutmeg_A_review_on_uses_and_biological_properties/link/5db3fe9492851c577ec3baab/download 
  1. Tajuddin, Ahmad, S., Latif, A. et al. Aphrodisiac activity of 50% ethanolic extracts of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg) and Syzygium aromaticum (L) Merr. & Perry. (clove) in male mice: a comparative study. BMC Complement Altern Med 3, 6 (2003).  Available from: https://bmccomplementmedtherapies.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6882-3-6 
  1. Tripathi Nagja, Kumar Vimal, Acharya Sanjeev; Myristica fragnans: A comprehensive review. International journal of pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences. 2015 Aug-Dec 8(2): 27-30. Available from: https://innovareacademics.in/journals/index.php/ijpps/article/view/8552/5423 
  1. Wei Kevin Zhang, Shan-Shan Tao, Ting-Ting Li, Yu-Sang Li, Xiao- Jun Li. He-Bin Tang, Ren- Huai Cong, Fang-Li Ma, and Chu-Jun Wan. Nutmeg oil alleviates chronic inflammatory pain through inhibition of COX-2 expression and substance. Food and nutrition research.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4848392/#:~:text=We%20have%20demonstrated%20that%20nutmeg,a%20potential%20chronic%20pain%20reliever 
  1.  Gupta A, Rajpurohit D, et al. Chapter 98 – Antioxidant and Antimicrobial Activity of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), Editor(s): Victor R. Preedy, Ronald Ross Watson, Vinood B. Patel. Nuts and Seeds in Health and Disease Prevention, Academic Press, 

2011, Pages 831-839, ISBN 9780123756886, Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123756886100982 

  1. Chul-Ho Yun, Hye Suk Lee-Yong, Sung-Kun Yim, Keon-Hee kim, Keon-Hee kim,  Eunhee kim, Sung-Su Yea, F Peter Guengerich.Roles of human liver cytochrome P450 3A4 and 1A2 enzymes in the oxidation of myristicin. Elsevier. 2003 Feb 3; 137 (3):143-150  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12523956/#:~:text=The%20oxidation%20of%20myristicin%20to,%2D2%2C3%2Ddihydroxybenzene 
  1. Abernethy MK, Becker LB. Acute nutmeg intoxication. The American journal of emergency medicine. 1992 Sep 1;10(5):429-30. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/073567579290069A 
  1. Mohamed A. Ibrahim, Charles L. Ekaterina A. Jeliazkova, Tess Astatkie, and Valtcho D. Zheljazkov. . Utilization of nutmeg (myristica fragrans houtt.) Seed hydrodistillation time to produce essential oil fractions and varied compositions and pharmacological effects.MDPI open access journals.  Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7037852/ 

Also Read: Tejpatta – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & Precautions

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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