If You Enjoy the Taste of Nutmeg, You’ll Probably Love Its Essential Oil, Too
Early European explorers had traveled all over the world to find spices such as nutmeg with good reason. Nutmeg, or Myristica fragrans, isn’t just a popular ingredient for cooking. It also possesses therapeutic properties, which made it a part of ancient cultures that include traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.1
Today, nutmeg is very much present in the alternative health scene. As an essential oil, it is used as a natural treatment for digestive problems, arthritis and other health conditions. Using nutmeg oil has a number of benefits, which I’ll discuss below.
What Is Nutmeg Oil?
Nutmeg essential oil is obtained by steam-distilling the dried kernels of the ripe seeds of the nutmeg. This fruit is native to Moluccas Island, in an area also known as the Spice Islands, but is also grown in Java (Indonesia), Penang (Malaysia) and Sri Lanka.2 The evergreen tree from which nutmeg is derived also produces another type of spice: mace.
The essential oil of nutmeg was used by various civilizations:3 Indians used it to help treat intestinal problems, while the Egyptians used it for embalming the dead. During the Elizabethan era, nutmeg oil was believed to be effective against the plague and gained great popularity, but with a high price4 as sellers took advantage of even the most poor by charging exorbitant prices for it.
Interestingly, modern research shows the Elizabethans may have been on to something, as nutmeg has antibacterial properties that work against 25 different bacteria including those of both plant and animal pathogens. Nutmeg oil was also used in Ayurvedic practices, mainly for treating fever, respiratory problems, headaches and digestive discomfort.5 Today, the essential oil is added to soap, candles, dental products and personal care products.