Nutmeg is the seed produced by the Myristica fragrans evergreen tree, widely found in tropical areas of the world. While the seeds may be small in size, their nutritional profile is very impressive and offers an abundance of health as well as beauty benefits.
This delicate, slightly sweet spice is used in cuisines around the world, and you don’t have to use large quantities of it. Just a dusting of nutmeg adds aroma and enhances the taste of food.
It’s available in ground or whole form for cooking and as an essential oil for other purposes.
Some of its beneficial components include potassium, iron, manganese, thiamin, folate, magnesium, copper and vitamins including B1, B6 and others.
It is also rich in carminative, stimulant, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, psychoactive and aphrodisiac properties. All these factors give this aromatic spice a long list of health benefits.
The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to use nutmeg in natural health remedies.
Here are the top 10 health benefits of nutmeg.
1. Fights Depression and Anxiety
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, nutmeg is a great natural treatment.
The compounds myristicin and elemicin in nutmeg offer mild sedative and antianxiety benefits by activating the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. This also helps the body and mind cope with stress.
A 2012 study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine highlighted for the first time the potential antidepressant activity of nutmeg. It found that the antidepressant-like activity might be due nutmeg’s modulatory effect on central monoamines.
- Mix a pinch of nutmeg powder in 1 tablespoon of Indian gooseberry juice.
- Drink it twice daily to calm the mind and relieve depression.
Note: Avoid taking nutmeg in excess as it tends to produce a “natural high”.
2. Boosts Brain Power
Nutmeg is very beneficial for keeping your brain sharp and boosting your brain health. In fact, ancient Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic.
The compound called myristicin in nutmeg aids in improving memory by stimulating the nerves in the brain. It also improves concentration and the ability to focus.
Furthermore, it inhibits an enzyme that contributes to Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology found that black wild nutmeg offers benefits for the brain and nervous system.
- To ensure good brain health, add a pinch of nutmeg powder to a glass of lukewarm water and drink it once daily before going to bed.
3. Fights Insomnia
If you have difficulty sleeping at night, nutmeg can help you enjoy sound sleep. Its sedative and calming properties work as a natural sleep aid.
Plus, this spice is rich in magnesium, which helps reduce nerve tension. Magnesium also stimulates the release of serotonin, hence creating a feeling of relaxation or sedation.
- Drink a cup of warm milk mixed with a pinch of nutmeg powder daily before going to bed.
- Alternatively, you can mix 2 drops of nutmeg essential oil in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and massage on your forehead before going to bed.
4. Relieves Joint and Muscle Pain
Nutmeg has many essential volatile oils that have anti-inflammatory properties, such as myristicin, elemicin and eugenol. This makes it useful for treating joint and muscle pain.
In a 2016 study published in Food and Nutrition Research, researchers injected rats with nutmeg oil to test its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects on chronic pain. The findings showed that nutmeg oil can alleviate joint swelling and pain associated with chronic inflammation.
- To get relief from painful joints and muscles, mix a little nutmeg oil with carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil on the affected areas a few times a day.
- Also, adding a little nutmeg in your cooking can help reduce inflammation and related pain.
5. Treats Acne
You can also use nutmeg to treat acne, one of the most common skin problems. Its antioxidant nature helps fight free-radical damage, which is important for maintaining acne-free skin.
It can also help reduce inflammation and irritation of the skin due to acne breakouts. Plus, it can help make acne scars less noticeable.
- Prepare a paste with equal amounts of raw honey and powdered nutmeg. Apply it on the affected area, leave it on for 20 minutes and then rinse it off with water. Do this once daily for a few days.
- Alternatively, mix ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg powder with enough raw milk to make a runny paste. Apply it on the acne-affected area, allow it to sit for 30 minutes and then wash it off with lukewarm water. Do it once daily.
6. Improves Digestion
Nutmeg is good for the digestive system. In addition to easing common nausea, vomiting, indigestion, bloating, gas and diarrhea, it can also aid in managing symptoms of Crohn’s disease.
It helps increase the secretion of gastric and intestinal juices, thus improving digestive health. Also, the essential oils in it have a carminative effect on the digestive system.
A 2002 study published in Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology found that nutmeg extract helped resolve diarrhea in laboratory animals.
- When suffering from digestive issues, all you need to do is add a pinch of nutmeg into your soups and stews.
7. Backents Tooth Decay and Cavities
Nutmeg is also beneficial for your oral health. Because of its antibacterial properties, it can effectively destroy harmful bacteria inside the mouth to help prevent cavities and tooth decay.
It is also effective at preventing and treating bad breath, which is usually caused by a buildup of bacteria in your mouth.
- Simply grate some nutmeg and mix it with a little oregano oil. Use it to brush your teeth a few times a week.
- To fight bad breath, put a few drops of nutmeg oil in a glass of lukewarm water and use it as a mouthwash.
8. Boosts immunity
Nutmeg can also give your immune system a boost. It enhances your immunity due to the presence of minerals and vitamins that contribute to its antioxidant action.
Antioxidants help protect your body from free-radical damage, which can otherwise have a negative impact on your immunity and make it hard for your body to fight off illnesses.
Also, nutmeg is rich in potassium, calcium, iron and manganese that play a key role in improving your body’s immunity.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Al-Nahrain University reports that ethanol and acetone extracts from nutmeg exhibited antibacterial activity against the gram-positive bacterial species Bacillus subtilis and Staphylococcus aureus. Crust extract showed antibacterial activity more than the pulp extract.
- Consume a little nutmeg daily by adding it in your milk, tea or soup to keep your immunity strong.
9. Aids Detoxification
Proper detoxification is important for good health. To aid detoxification and improve the function of your liver, nutmeg is very beneficial.
Nutmeg helps cleanse the liver and kidneys of toxins as well as strengthen their functioning.
Its high antioxidant content helps activate enzymes in the liver that help remove toxic compounds. Also, the magnesium in it is required for detoxifying cells. It also helps detoxify metals from the body.
10. Antibacterial Agent
Nutmeg powder has strong antibacterial properties and thus can help treat several types of bacterial infections. It contains a type of oil known as myristic acid, which has inhibitory effects on several types of bacteria.
In a 2006 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers found that all of the constituents isolated from nutmeg powder to have antibacterial properties.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology reports that nutmeg contains about 32 compounds that are possible contributor for antioxidant and antimicrobial activity of nutmeg.
To enjoy the antibacterial properties of nutmeg, just add a pinch of nutmeg powder to a glass of lukewarm water or milk and drink it once daily.
- Do not take nutmeg in excess as it can be toxic in large doses. Do not take more than ½ teaspoon a day.
- Excess intake can produce psychoactive effects and lead to problems like agitation, hallucinations, and nutmeg intoxication. It can also cause side effect like intense nausea, vominting, diarrhea, palpitation, dizziness, and dry mouth.
- Store this spice in an airtight container and away from moisture, heat and direct sunlight to avoid loss of aroma and flavor.