A GUIDE TO NUTMEG OIL

Posted by Debbie Armstrong on

A Guide to Nutmeg Oil

Content

  • History of Nutmeg Essential Oil
  • Cultivating & Extracting Nutmeg Oil
  • Nutmeg Oil Benefits & Composition
  • Nutmeg Essential Oil Uses
  • A Guide To Nutmeg Oil Varieties & Benefits
  • Contradictions For Nutmeg Essential Oil

 

IN ESSENCE...

  • Nutmeg essential oil is sourced from the dried kernels of the Myristica fragrans tree, indigenous to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.
  • Nutmeg was once an extremely costly spice; its essential oil was thought to have powerful healing, mystical, and aphrodisiac qualities.
  • Reputed for its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, carminative, and cleansing properties, Nutmeg essential oil exudes a warming, relaxing, spicy aroma that can energize the mind as well as deeply soothe the senses.
  • Nutmeg essential oil is commonly featured in medicinal and aromatherapeutic remedies for muscular aches and cramps, gastrointestinal issues, pain management, halitosis, insomnia, and anxiety.
  • It is also a popular ingredient in cosmetics as well as personal care products, especially within men's grooming and oral health care.


HISTORY OF NUTMEG ESSENTIAL OIL

The word 'Nutmeg' originates from the Latin nux and muscada (translating to 'musky nut'). Although a commonplace spice now found in the kitchens of practically every home, it boasts a long, deadly, and fascinating history.

The Nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans) originates from the secluded Banda Islands of Indonesia. The Arabs are thought to be the first to chance upon the obscure spice, and, in an attempt to hide its location, began to narrate stories and legends about its roots. Nutmeg later entered European trading, and only the well-off could afford to spend lavishly to experience its earthy, spicy-sweet taste and scent. Then, when medieval doctors claimed that it could be the only antidote to the Black Death pandemic, prices for the already-expensive spice soared exorbitantly. The battle over Nutmeg only intensified in the 1600s, when the Dutch began the infamous 'Nutmeg Wars' on the soils of the Banda Islands, only ending after the English invaded the region and successfully re-distributed the seeds towards East Asia.

Back then, Nutmeg, along with its essential oil, was regarded as something of a mystical spice; it was believed to possess aphrodisiac and hypnotic powers as well as bring good fortune to those who used it. In China, India, and the Middle East, it was used to induce sexual arousal, revive marriages, and help with fertility. Due to its primary constituent, Myristicin, many claimed that ingesting Nutmeg could also induce hallucinations, euphoria, and paranoia.

Nutmeg essential oil has also been heavily featured in traditional medicine and practices across various cultures for generations. In Ancient China, for example, it was thought to be an important remedy against liver and abdominal problems, and Indian Ayurvedic practitioners frequently used it to address symptoms of fever as well as alleviate pain, coughing, flatulence, and menstrual problems. In addition, Ancient Egyptians saw Nutmeg essential oil as a precious preservative component forming part of the embalming and mummification process.



CULTIVATING AND EXTRACTING QUALITY NUTMEG ESSENTIAL OIL

Nutmeg essential oil is sourced from the dried seeds of the Nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), which garners roughly 10-15% of volatile oil. The height of Myristica fragrans can range from about 5-20 meters (16-66 feet). One intriguing feature of this evergreen tree is that it is also dioecious, meaning a single plant will bear its fragrant flowers limited to only one sex. Only about 7% of the world's plant species operate sexually in this way.

Myristica fragrans is native to the exotic Spice Islands or Maluku of Indonesia, though it now also grown in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, and the Caribbean region, amongst other countries. The ideal growing conditions include warmer temperatures (20 - 30°C), a lively humid climate, and plenty of rainfall (200 - 350 cm). An elevation up to about 900 meters (3000 feet), along with soils of clay or sandy loam are also particularly well-suited for its cultivation.

An initial harvest of Nutmeg can only occur after about seven years of planting, after which the tree begins to bear fruit all year round. Its full harvesting capacity is maximized only after 10-20 years. The round, yellow Nutmeg fruits are roughly the size of peaches, and when ripe, they burst open to reveal the hefty, shiny Nutmeg seed and its characteristic red aril - a viney, soft, mesh-like covering that loops its way around the seed. This aril is popularly known as 'Mace', and is also used to spice foods all over the world.

Following the harvest period, the outer aril is removed and the seeds are typically left to dry out in the sun for one or two months, before the kernels are isolated and steam distilled. This produces a volatile oil that is thin and colorless (or light-yellowish) that exudes a soft-spicy scent with a unique Nutmeg undertone that is slightly heavy and musky.



NUTMEG ESSENTIAL OIL BENEFITS & COMPOSITION

Nutmeg essential oil has a long reputation as being helpful for a variety of physical and psychological conditions, and is thought to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, carminative, energizing, cleansing, and pain-relieving properties. Its chemical composition is comprised mainly of monoterpene hydrocarbons (roughly 80% or more), including Sabinene, Pinene, and Limonene.

Sabinene, which exudes a sharp, spicy aroma, is known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and antioxidant properties; it is reputed to help alleviate abdominal and muscle pain as well as facilitate digestion, easing flatulence and bloating in particular. Sabinene has also been implicated in the relief of skin irritation symptoms such as rashes and itching. Both α-Pinene and β-Pinene release a fresh, woody aroma and are known for their strong inflammatory and anti-microbial effects. α-Pinene is also reputed to stimulate a sense of alertness, help free up respiratory airways, as well as cleanse and clarify the skin. Limonene, which gives off a fruitier scent, is believed to help ground and calm the senses as well as combat stress and anxiety, while also exhibiting strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and digestive benefits.

Comparative and individual studies have used GC-MS analyses to identify similarities and differences between Indian and Sri Lankan Nutmeg essential oil. The main constituents of Nutmeg oil originating from India have been reported as: Sabinene, Myristicin, Elemicine, and Safrol, while the essential oil from Sri Lanka have been reported to consist primarily of: Sabinene, α-Pinene, β-Pinene, and Limonene. Furthermore, it has been observed that both the Indian and Sri Lankan varieties have the following common constituents: β-Phellandrene, β-Pinene, α-Pinene, Terpinen-4-ol, Sabinene, Elemicine, and β-Myrcene.

 

The table below shows the composition of EYO's Nutmeg Essential Oil (India) and Nutmeg Organic Essential Oil (Sri Lanka).It is important to note that natural variations are possible from lot from lot.

 

Nutmeg Essential Oil 
(India)

Nutmeg Organic Essential Oil
(Sri Lanka)

Main Constituents

%

Main Constituents

%

Sabinene

26

Sabinene

39

α-Pinene

18

α-Pinene

16

β-Pinene

13

β-Pinene

12

Limonene

6

Limonene

4

Terpinen-4-ol

5

γ-Terpinene

3

γ-Terpinene

4

 β-Myrcene

3

α-Terpinene

3

β-Phellandrene

2

 

NUTMEG ESSENTIAL OIL USES

Apart from its uses in the culinary world as a major flavoring agent, Nutmeg essential oil is also renowned for its medicinal, odorous, and cosmetic applications. It is incorporated in various health remedies, massage therapies, aromatherapeutic practices, and also in the manufacturing of perfumes, colognes, soap, oral health, skincare, and hair care products. Its spicy scent is especially popular in formulations for male grooming and/or cosmetic products, such as fragrances, beard oils, shaving creams, shower gels, and shampoos.

Used in aromatherapy, the warming scent of Nutmeg oil is well suited to promote sleep, calm the senses, and induce a sense of relaxation. It can be inhaled at the end of a long, tiring day to alleviate fatigue and revive one's mood and energy levels. To create an uplifting, soothing, and relaxing ambience, try diffusing 3 drops of Nutmeg oil, along with 5 drops of Lavender oil and 3 drops of Orange or any other citrus oil. To strengthen concentration and levels of alertness, diffuse 2-3 drops of Nutmeg along with 4-5 drops of Grapefruit or any other citrus oil.

Nutmeg oil is an excellent addition to massage blends. It is reputed to help comfort sore regions, joint pain, muscle cramps, and abdominal or menstrual tension. Massaging the abdominal area in particular may be helpful for digestive issues, such as flatulence, bloating, or excessive gas. An added benefit of a Nutmeg oil massage is that it is wonderfully relaxing and can help enhance the libido. A simple recipe is to dilute 5-6 drops of Nutmeg oil in 60 mL (2 oz) of a carrier oil of your choice, and slowly and gently massage into the skin as often as desired.

To help clarify, brighten, and soothe the skin, add a drop of Nutmeg oil into a 15 mL (0.5 oz) bottle filled with Jojoba oil and use a clean cotton bud or ball to apply onto scars or any discolored areas. Its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties can contribute to a clear, glowing complexion. A drop of Nutmeg oil can also be added to your favorite fragrance-free moisturizer. Make sure you conduct a patch test first before applying the mixture to the face or body to ensure you will not have any adverse reactions.

To ease any muscular or bodily pain while simultaneously cleansing the skin, sprinkle a cup of Epsom salt along with 4-5 drops of Nutmeg oil into the bathtub (or a basin) before filling it with warm water. Soak your body or feet for 15 minutes to feel re-energized, fresh, and recovered.

Nutmeg essential oil can also help soothe an itchy scalp and improve the appearance of dull, brittle, or damaged hair strands. It is also a great ingredient to incorporate into homemade beauty recipes for hair growth. For shinier, healthier-looking hair, measure 4 mL (do not exceed 5 mL) of Nutmeg essential oil and stir into one bottle (33.3 oz or approx. 1 L) of Shampoo Base Ultra Premium (SLS Free), or measure 20 mL of Nutmeg oil and stir into one bottle (33.3 oz or approx. 1 L) of Conditioner Base Ultra Premium. Rinse hair and apply shampoo and conditioner as normal.

NUTMEG OIL VARIETY & BOTANICAL NAME COUNTRY OF ORIGIN REPUTED BENEFITS
Nutmeg Essential Oil
(Myristica fragrans)
India

Believed to:

  • Exert anti-inflammatory actions
  • Have antifungal and antimicrobial properties
  • Promote a sense of alertness
  • Enhance energy levels
  • Cleanse and clarify skin and hair
Nutmeg Organic Essential Oil
(Myristica fragrans)
Sri Lanka

Believed to:

  • Exert anti-inflammatory actions
  • Exhibit antioxidant effects
  • Have antifungal and antimicrobial properties
  • Ease digestive issues
  • Calm and soothe skin and hair

 

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR NUTMEG ESSENTIAL OIL

It is important to enjoy Nutmeg essential oil benefits while keeping in mind relevant safety considerations. As per NAHA guidelines, Essentially You Oils (EYO) does not recommend the ingestion of essential oils. High doses of Nutmeg essential oil in the body (whether applied topically, inhaled, or ingested) can lead to side effects including sedation, hallucinations, paranoia, and vomiting. The amount of Nutmeg essential oil should always be kept to a minimum to avoid adverse effects from excessive or prolonged use.

Pregnant and nursing women are particularly cautioned to avoid using Nutmeg essential oil without medical guidance. This essential oil is not safe to be used on or around children and is not recommended for those under 12-15 years of age. Those with the following health conditions are especially recommended to consult the advice of a physician: cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or allergies, hormone-related ailments, or epilepsy. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use.

Before topical use, Nutmeg Essential Oil must always be diluted appropriately with a carrier oil. It must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin. Prior to using this essential oil, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop of Nutmeg essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of non-sensitive skin.

In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the products and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

IMPORTANT: All Essentially You Oils products are for external use only unless otherwise indicated. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and it should not be used by anyone who is pregnant or under the care of a medical practitioner. See Disclaimer.

 

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