Nutmeg trees (Myristica fragrans) originate from the Maluku or Spice Islands, and they may grow as tall as 15-18 meters. Nowadays they are grown in several regions in the world. The fruit of these trees is pale-colored, resembling an apricot. When it ripens, its skin cracks, and the brown, hard shell becomes visible.
The seed of this fruit is what we actually call nutmeg. It is used in the Arabic countries, but especially in in Europe, as a pleasantly flavorful, rather strong spice. Its medicinal properties have been discovered in the Chinese medicine during the antiquity; also, the East Indian homeopathic medicine uses it to treat respiratory illnesses, digestive problems and rheumatism. Besides, nutmegs have a beneficial effect on mental balance, and oil extracted from them has several beneficial effects.
The two main components of nutmeg oil are myristicin and elemicin; both of these components may cause drowsiness in large quantities. Other ingredients found in nutmeg oil are camphor, geraniol and borneol. Nutmeg oil also contains fats, sugars and proteins.
Used in an oil burner, nutmeg oil exudes a pleasant, warm smell. It is used to cure both physical and mental diseases: the oil warms up the body, strengthens the heart and the circulatory system, improves digestion, enhances he production of bile, supports the secretive function of the liver and relieves tiredness.
Mixed with clove and rosemary oil, it is an ideal remedy for rheumatic and arthritic pains. Use 6 drops of nutmeg oil per day. A combination of 2 drops of nutmeg oil, 2 drops of orange oil and 3 drops of sandalwood oil mixed in 50 drops of neutral vegetable oil is also very beneficial.
In case of a wet cough, nutmeg oil helps loosen up mucus. It is also helpful in treating bronchitis.
A pinch of ground nutmeg mixed into hot milk is a fast relief for diarrhea. In case of a severe toothache, use a drop of nutmeg oil on a cotton swab and press the swab onto the aching tooth. Repeat the procedure several times a day.
Warning! Use nutmeg oil with caution. If more than 5-10 grams are taken per day, it may cause hallucination, cramps, nausea and dizziness.
- The aroma of ground nutmegs will disappear fast, so it’s a better idea to buy them whole and ground or grate only as much as you need at one time. Keep the spice in a tightly-closing, transparent glass jar in a dark, cool place.
- Nutmegs compliment the flavor of steamed vegetables, especially spinach and cauliflower; also, they go well with potato dishes, cheese sauce and cold cuts. In Italy, stuffing in ravioli is also flavored with nutmegs. High temperatures will destroy the flavor of this spice, so it should be added only at the end of cooking.
- If you eat food that contains nutmegs, you have to be cautious about consuming alcoholic drinks, as this spice will enhance the effect of alcohol. Nutmeg can be used to flavor hot beverages, tea or punch.
- In a spice mix, it can be used with cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger and pepper. It can also be used in various spice blends in curries.