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[top]Introduction to Nutmeg

Nutmeg is the seed of the fruit to Myristica fragrans, an evergreen tree native to the Maluku Islands of Indonesia. The kernels have a covering (aril) called mace and both are used mainly as spices for use in food, sweets or drinks. Nutmeg contains the psychoactive principles of myristicin, elemicin and safrole, which can induce a psychedelic effect, often described as being somewhat like between LSD and (more like) cannabis, and lasting around 12 - 36 hrs.
Nutmeg can be highly toxic in large doses:
possibly causing fatty deposits to form on the liver,
in its role as a weak MAOI,
Its anticholinergic properties.


Kingdom – Plantae
Order – Magnoliales
Family – Myristicaceae
Genus – Myristica Gronov.
Species – Myristica fragrans Houtt.

[top]Common Names

Nutmeg, Mace, Muscadier, Muskatbaum, Nuez Moschata, Nutmeg Tree

[top]Notable and Psychoactive Phytochemicals

PhytochemicalDistributionConcentration (%)Notes
Sabineneseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)21.38 
4-terpineolseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)13.92 
Myristicinseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)13.57 
α-pineneseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)10.23 
Safroleseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)4.28 
Elemicinseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)1.42
β-asaroneseeds (essential oil of nutmeg)0.03 
Kaempferol[2]seeds (nutmeg) MAOI, flavanoid
Quercetin[3]seed (nutmeg) MAOI, flavanoid

[top]Using Nutmeg

[top]Dosage and Administration

FormAdministration MethodDosage RangeTime Until Noticeable EffectsDuration of Noticeable EffectsNotes
Fresh Whole KernelOral – eaten1 – 4 kernels1 – 4hrs12 – 60hrsChewed or gnawed.
Fresh Powdered KernelOral – eaten5 – 28g1 – 4hrs12 – 60hrsThe fresher the powder, the less the principle psychedelic essential oils will have likely degraded.
Fresh Powdered KernelOral – imbibed in a tea or tincture5 – 28g15 – 30min Reputedly, drinking nutmeg powder in these forms have the most rapid onset of effects over any other method of administration
Fresh Powdered KernelInsufflated 30min – 1hr It has only been known to have been insufflated mixed with tobacco 'snuff', the tobacco may have an influencing factor on pharmacological effects.
Essential OilOral – swallowed in a capsule1 – 5ml  Essential oils are reportedly the least toxic way of experiencing nutmeg intoxication

[top]Nutmeg Kernel/Powder

The threshold dose for noticeable psychoactivity is around 5g of freshly ground, fresh dried nutmeg, with around 28g being the ceiling for a heavy dose.

Concentration of the principle psychedelic constituents will likely vary between nutmeg kernels. Pre-ground nutmeg powder suffers a little less from this inconsistency, however, how it is stored and the length of time between grinding and use will degrade concentrations further.

[top]Essential Oil

Essential oils are produced by steam distillation of the nutmeg kernels, producing concentrations of the essential oils (of which, myristicin, elemicin and safrole,) and leaving behind many of the least attractive phytochemicals in nutmeg.

The production of essential oil leaves this form of nutmeg to be the least effected by varying concentrations, the resulting levels being more consistent.


The most widely reported method of ingesting nutmeg is through eating or drinking the ground dried seed, often by mixing into food, or into milk or alcohol.

It is often viewed as difficult to eat fresh nutmeg kernels as they tend to be quite hard and dry by the time they reach the average consumer. In these cases, they can be 'eaten' by soaking and gnawing in the mouth. However, if they are obtained fresh enough, they can be chewed as they are much softer.

Drinking nutmeg as a tea is reported to have the quickest onset, producing an effect almost immediately, however, eating the ground seed takes at least an hour for the effects to manifest.

Nutmeg essential oil can be placed into capsules and swallowed.


In some parts of southern India, it is reported that ground dried nutmeg is mixed with tobacco snuff and insufflated for its psychoactive (recreational, religious or medicinal) effects, which appear to be identical to oral methods, but produces effects with in 15 minutes.[5]

[top]Effects of Nutmeg

The effects of nutmeg intoxication can sometimes take several hours before becoming apparent and can last in excess of 24hours. Dependant on the dose, administration method and person ingesting the substance, effects can last up to 60 hours, however, predominant symptoms generally subside 24 - 36 hours following ingestion.

It has been previously thought that the main psychotropic effects of nutmeg where derived from the formation of amphetamine analogues, MMDA[6], from the metabolism of the principle essential oils, namely myristicin, elemicin and (possibly most prolifically,) safrole, however, amphetamine derivatives have yet to be found in urine samples from nutmeg administration/intoxication, and the metabolic pathway is yet to be proved in vivo.
This may suggest that the essential oils could have some other method of action in producing psychotropic effects.[7]

-mood lift/euphoria
-dream like state
-open & closed eye visuals of varied intensity
-cannabis like laughter
-cannabis like "stoned" feeling
-psychedelia/psychedelic mindstate
-feelings of intoxication
-warm feeling throught body/pleasant body high
-increased appreciation of music
-some report empathogen qualites
-some report feelings of creativity, philosophical/insightful thinking, feeling spiritual

-pupil dilation
-bloodshot eyes
-unusal thought and speech patterns, shifts in consciousness
-sedation, stupor
-visual distortion
-increased heart rate
-impaired memory
-impaired motor skills
-long effects come up and duration
-high/intoxicated apperance


-upset stomach/nausea
-dry mouth and eyes
-annoying body load
-body aches, stiff muscles
-anxiety, paranoia, or panic attacks
-racing heart beat at high doses
-delirium at high doses/overdose
-erratic/bizarre and/or dangerous behavior at high doses/overdose
-delusions and strong hallucinations at high doses/overdose
-possible seizures/convulsions at high doses/overdose
-possible cancer causing substances
-possible hepatoxic substances
-possible nerotoxicity

[top]Pharmacological Action

There have been a number of experimental inroads made into the possible pharmacological actions of certain essential oils like elemicin, via in vivo experimentation using enzyme inhibitors.

link to/include 69Ron's documentation/links



It seems that the active principles of essential oil of nutmeg are metabolised by P450 enzymes in the liver.
CYP2D6 is implemented in the psychoactivation of the essential oil whilst CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP1B1, CYP2A6, CYP2C9, CYP2E1 and CYP3A4 are connected with their break down or inactivation.[9]

It has been shown that in mice, there is association between inhibition of locomotor activity and volatile compounds such as myristicin, 4-terpineol and safrole, suggesting that these compounds may be at least partially responsible.

[top]Combinations with Nutmeg

[top]Different Uses for Nutmeg

In addition to its psychoactive effects, nutmeg has been used for its anti-diarrhoea properties in patients suffering from medullary carcinoma.[10]

Nutmeg and mace have both been used extensively across the world as a culinary spice, adding flavour to many dishes and drinks.

[top]The dangers of Nutmeg

In cats, the lethal dosage was found to be 24mg of nutmeg oil per kg of body weight. It was found that to their livers, where attached fatty deposits which where caused by the nutmeg administrated.

There is only one known reported case of death by nutmeg overdose whereby an 8 year old boy had consumed 2 nutmegs.

There has been reported cases of temporary psychosis, persisting for up to six months, by prison inmates following chronic nutmeg ingestion.

There appears to be a risk when ingesting commercially prepared pre-ground nutmeg. Low grade nutmegs, known as “BWP grade”, are used in the distillation of essential oils. BWP (broken, wormy and punky) grade kernels are those which have broken due to pest infestation, and because they are sometimes illegally ground and sold, there exists the real threat of ingesting moulds, as they often form on this grade instorage and/or transit.

[top]Cell Toxicity

Nutmeg may pose a carcinogenic risk as it contains safrole, whose metabolite, 1'-hydroxysafrole, is a known hepatocarcinogen (causing liver cancer), albeit mildly.

There is some data to suggest that myristicin may act as a strong teratogen (causing fetal deformity/malformation) and inhibits prostaglandin production.


There is data which suggests that nutmeg acts as a monoamineoxidase inhibitor (MAOI) and has anticholinergic properties[11]. This should be considered in persons whom may have conditions and/or be taking prescribed medications, or other drugs, and nutmeg preferably avoided.

[top]Growing Nutmeg

Myristica fragrans needs a very tropical atmosphere to thrive, where it can grow up to 70ft tall. This tree can with stand short periods of around 5C, but constant temperatures higher than around 13C and a high humidity.

M.fragrans grows in rich and well drained soils, preferring volcanic soils.
It is dioecious, producing roughly equal numbers of male or female from seed, with the ideal ratio being one male in every ten females.
The male trees do not produce nutmeg.

As there is no method of sexing the tree before its eighth year, grafting is the preferred method of propagation.

Bloom does not begin until its ninth year, reaching its peak after around twenty years, with the tree being productive until at least seventy-five.

[top]Forms of Nutmeg

Whole fresh/dried nutmeg kernels

Powder as formed by the grinding down of dried nutmeg kernels.

Essential oil of nutmeg

Standing oil of nutmeg

Nutmeg butter

[top]Legal status of Nutmeg

Unless otherwise stated, Myristica fragrans and its seed, nutmeg, can be assumed to be legal to buy, possess or sell. However, it may be prudent to check the legal literature in any country one may be considering possessing, purchasing, transporting, importing or exporting nutmeg.


Nutmeg maybe a banned substance, illegal in import, buy, sell or possess. Nutmeg maybe confiscated upon discovery by the authorities [12]

[top]Saudi Arabia

Nutmeg maybe a banned substance, illegal in import, buy, sell or possess. Nutmeg maybe confiscated upon discovery by the authorities [13]

[top]United Nations

Describe the legal situation according to the UN treaties.


Describe the legal situation in the USA.


[top]Other Countries

Describe the legal situation in other countries.

[top]History of Nutmeg

Nutmeg has a long history of use as a spice, medicine and for recreation.

In western society, nutmeg has been used as a spice since at least the 700's, and since the 1500's it has been used as a recreational substance by sailors or prisoners stationed around Indonesia, where its penal use has since spread.

It is often regarded in lists of 'alternative' and or 'legal highs' of the like which circulate universities and 'alternative' post boards.[14]

The indigenous peoples of eastern Indonesia, as well as the Hindus of India have used ground nutmeg as a snuff or an adulterant to snuff. [15]

[top]Popularity of Nutmeg over time

[top]Nutmeg and Drug Tests


The following metabolites have so far been detected in human urine following nutmeg consumption:

O-demethyl elemicin
O-demethyl dihydroxy elemicin
demethylenyl myristicin
dihydroxy myristicin
demethylenyl safrole

Detection of these metabolites would be indicative of nutmeg intoxication or recent administration of nutmeg oils (containing elemicin, myristicin and safrole). The actual nutmeg oils have not been found in urine samples.

It is interesting to note that no amphetamine, nor its derivatives, have been found in samples of urine from cases of nutmeg administration.[16]

[top]More Nutmeg Sections

Nutmeg Experiences Post & read experiences with Nutmeg.

Ethnobotanicals File Archive Upload and read research & articles on Nutmeg.

Ethnobotanicals Forum Post and read about Nutmeg.

Nutmeg Image Gallery Post and view pictures of Nutmeg.

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http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/thome/band1/tafel_042_small.jpg retrieved 26/05/2010
InChem Fact Sheet on Nutmeg (Myristica Fragrans) PIM 355

[top]Further Reading

Created by salviablue , 07-03-2012 at 02:05
Last edited by ryanmorrison989, 24-05-2015 at 11:11
Last comment by salviablue on 12-03-2012 at 21:55
1 Comments, 72,400 Views

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