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Nutmeg Season: Spreading Good Cheer!

Jacob Schor, ND

November 1, 2007

 

Without nutmeg, people in New York City would still be speaking Dutch.

 

I baked an apple pie this past weekend and had to find my nutmeg grater for the first time since last winter. The foods we cook this time of year and to celebrate the winter holidays are often seasoned with nutmeg, a tradition that goes back hundreds of years. Nutmeg was purposefully added to these foods to spread 'good cheer.' Nutmeg in its day, was the Prosac and the Viagra for those who could afford it. These foods were eaten to spread more than good cheer.

 

Both nutmeg and mace come from the fruit of an evergreen tree native to tropical Asia and Australasia. Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering on the seed. Fragrant Nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, is the species used for culinary and medicinal purposes and grew naturally only on one small group of islands called the Bandas.

 

Nutmeg and mace taste similar though nutmeg is sweeter in flavor and mace more delicate. Many cultures use nutmeg as a seasoning. In India, nutmeg is used in sweet dishes. In the Middle East, nutmeg spices savory dishes. Europeans use it in most everything; they season potatoes, eggs, meats and even spinach with nutmeg along with soups, sauces and baked goods. The Japanese add nutmeg to curry powder.

Here in the United States, nutmeg is a traditional fall and Christmas season ingredient lending flavor to mulled cider and wine, rice pudding, fruitcake and especially eggnog.

 

As mentioned, Myristica fragrans, the species used as a spice, is native only to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. Until the mid 19 th century, the Banda Islands were the only source of nutmeg and mace in the world. This made these tiny islands the focal point of European commerce and international wars. Nutmeg is now also grown in the Caribbean, especially in Grenada ,

 

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to reach the Banda Islands, arriving in 1512 and returning in 1529. The Bandanese were not particularly friendly attacking the Portuguese when they tried to build a fort and resisting missionary attempts to convert them.

The Dutch followed the Portuguese to Banda. The spice trade was unbelievably profitable; spices sold in Amsterdam for 300 times their purchase price in Banda. Multiple competing Dutch companies banded together to take control of the spice trade establishing the ‘Dutch East Indies Company.'  There is a long bloody history of colonial rule that I will not detail. The Portugese failed to convert the native population.  The Dutch simply killed them off.  Only a thousand of what had been a native population of 15,000 people survived the Dutch settlement.

The English became active players in the spice trade by setting up shop on an island near the Bandas and paying higher prices for nutmeg than the Dutch. This healthy free market enterprise was not appreciated and triggered the Dutch and English to launch various attacks, counterattacks, sieges and then wholesale slaughter on and of each other.

This fighting ended in 1667 when in the Treaty of Breda, the British traded their tiny Indonesian island outpost near the Bandas to the Dutch for a Dutch island on the edge of wild north America called Manhattan. The Dutch got full control of the nutmeg market and people in New Amsterdam found themselves living in New York and gradually learned to speak English.

Why all the fuss over a spice? Nutmeg was touted as a panacea in the ‘western medical literature' as early as 1147 in the writings of St. Hildegard, who listed its pharmaceutical properties. One popular belief was that if you kept a nutmeg in your pocket, you would not break a bone. Kind of a twelfth century version of Fosamax. Of course people who could afford a nut imported from the other side of the world to keep in a pocket, probably started out lucky.

More significantly though to increasing demand, a 16th century monk wrote that coating a certain appendage with a nutmeg enriched oil might be useful for enjoying certain activities that I didn't think monks were supposed to be well informed about. This was an early version of the patches advertised via spam these days. People in Europe were willing to pay fortunes for nutmeg. They added nutmeg to any ‘party' food hoping for it aphrodisiac properties on special occasion. The rich probably added nutmeg and other spices to any food they could, just because they could. Back then, to spice up your life you first spiced up your food. Nutmeg was the number one ticket to a good time.

Looking at the recent scientific literature suggests that this traditional use might have something to it. Recent studies suggest nutmeg can fix male sexual dysfunction. A 2005 study on rats fed an alcohol extract of nutmeg reported, “ …..sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats without any conspicuous adverse effects indicates that ….. nutmeg possesses aphrodisiac activity, increasing both libido and potency, which might be attributed to its nervous stimulating property.” [i] A study from two years prior had found a similar effect in mice using a mixture of nutmeg and cloves and comparing it to the drug Sildenafil . [ii]

 

Nutmeg does more than stimulate lust. We also add nutmeg to foods we associate with the celebrating holidays and spreading ‘Good Cheer.'  A 2006 paper reported an antidepressant effect of a nutmeg extract on mice. [iii]   If something makes a mouse happy enough that one can notice, the effect is not mild. A 2005 paper from Prague reviews the chemistry of Christmas ginger bread and explains how the spices in it exert biochemical effects cheering people up. [iv]

 

Nutmeg may also improve Alzheimer's disease as it directly affects acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain. This is what the drugs currently prescribed for Alzheimer's attempt to do. Nutmeg may provide a reasonably non-toxic alternative. [v] [vi] Nutmeg also improves memory and learning ability in both young and old mice. [vii]

 

 

There is little risk of toxicity from nutmeg when it is in food. [viii] Yet with any substance that cheers people up and increases sexual activity, there is potential for abuse. The medical literature reports numerous cases of poisoning and even a few deaths when people ingested large quantities of recreational nutmeg. [ix] [x] [xi] [xii]

 

Nutmeg extracts have potential use as antibiotics. Nutmeg is antifungal [xiii] and antibacterial. [xiv] This later antibacterial effect is interesting, as it appears to single out pathogenic bacteria while leaving normal flora unharmed. For example, the 0157 E coli strain is sensitive to nutmeg while the non-pathogenic strains of E. coli are not. [xv] A similar phenomenon happens in the mouth. Streptococcus mutans, t he bacteria that cause cavities, are killed by nutmeg but the healthy bacteria are unaffected. [xvi]   From nutmeg, one can make a suitable insecticide against cockroaches. [xvii] Nutmeg also provides protection to healthy cells against damage from radiation but, it is unclear what effect it has on cancer cells. Does it also protect them? [xviii]

 

The classic use of nutmeg is to treat the symptoms of Carcinoid Syndrome. Normally, the body converts the amino acid tryptophan into niacin, but in carcinoid syndrome, it makes serotonin instead. The high serotonin levels cause symptoms including bright red facial flushing, diarrhea (which may be explosive and severe) and occasionally wheezing. In year's past, freshly ground nutmeg, one teaspoon three times a day was used to reduce these symptoms. I am not finding support for this on PubMed. Then again, I also find little support for using prunes as a laxative.

 

Nutmeg is best ground just before adding to recipes. Much of the flavor is in volatile essential oils which are lost with storage. I use a microplane grater purchased from Lee Valley. It was advertised to grate lemon rind with, but it works just fine for nutmeg. It's the finger tips that don't do well if one's grip on the nutmeg should slip.

http://www.leevalley.com/garden/page.aspx?c=2&p=32458&cat=2,40733,44734

 

 

Nutmeg Recipes:

 

 

 

 

Rice Pudding

 

Bring to a boil and simmer until most of the water is absorbed.

(1/2) One half cup basmati rice

(2.5) Two and a half cups water

add

(2) two cups milk

(1) one teaspoon vanilla

(1/3) one-third cup honey

(1/3) one–third cup raisins

(1/2) one-half teaspoon nutmeg

(1)   one teaspoon cinnamon

 

Cook until the consistency of thick porridge. This takes a long time, and a lot of stirring. You can cheat; pour this mixture into a buttered deep glass casserole dish, cover it tightly and bake for an hour or so at a moderate temperature

 

 

  

 

Eggnog (from the Food Network website)

Alton Brown, 2005

 

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon

1 pint whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3 ounces bourbon

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 egg whites*

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.

 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

 

Cook's Note: For cooked eggnog, follow procedure below.

 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Set aside.

 

In a medium saucepan, over high heat, combine the milk, heavy cream and nutmeg and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and gradually temper the hot mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then return everything to the pot and cook until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from the heat, stir in the bourbon, pour into a medium mixing bowl, and set in the refrigerator to chill.

 

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. With the mixer running gradually, add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Whisk the egg whites into the chilled mixture.

 

 

 

Lebkuchen Cookie

 

3 c All-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp Nutmeg; ground

1 1/4 tsp Cinnamon; ground

1/2 tsp Baking soda

1/2 tsp Cloves; ground

1/2 tsp Allspice; ground

 

1 Egg

3/4 c Brown sugar; packed

1/2 c Honey

1/2 c Dark molasses

 

1/2 c Almonds; slivered

1/2 c raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped dried cherries

 

1. Stir together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, soda, cloves and allspice. In a large mixer bowl, beat the egg; add brown sugar and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Stir in honey and molasses. Add dry ingredients to molasses mixture; beat until the mixture is well combined. Stir in almonds and fruits.

 

2. Cover; chill for several hours. On floured surface, roll dough into a 14" square. Cut into 3 1/2 x 2" rectangles. Place 2" apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake @ 375 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes or until done.

 

Middle Eastern Spice Mix:

My brother-in-law David Bloom is a brilliant cook and sent along the following recipe after he read our turmeric and Alzheimer's article. This recipe is,

“ …translated from a new book called "Tehina, mint, pine nuts, lamb" written by the chef and owner of the Al-Baabur restaurant in Umm El Fahm, Husam Abaas.”

Baharat (spice mix)


3 tsp. cumin
3 tsp. ground coriander seed
1 tsp.  ground dried Persian lemon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. turmeric
3 tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. saffron (optional)

Excellent with ground (lamb is the best) meat, kabob, rice.  This mixture is to be cooked with *not* added after cooking.

Alas, it doesn't have nutmeg in it.  Still, it looks good so I include it anyway......

 

 

 

  References:

[i] BMC Complement Altern Med. 2005 Jul 20; 5:16 . Click here to read

An experimental study of sexual function improving effect of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg).

Tajuddin , Ahmad S , Latif A , Qasmi IA , Amin KM .

Department of Ilmul Advia (Unani Pharmacology), Faculty of Unani Medicine, Aligarh Muslim University , Aligarh-202002, India . tajuddin_amu@rediffmail.com

BACKGROUND: Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg) has been mentioned in Unani medicine to be of value in the management of male sexual disorders. The present study was undertaken to evaluate the aphrodisiac effect of 50% ethanolic extract of nutmeg along with its likely adverse effects and acute toxicity using various animal models. METHODS: The suspension of the extract was administered (100, 250 and 500 mg/kg, p.o.) to different groups of male rats daily for seven days. The female rats involved in mating were made receptive by hormonal treatment. The general mating behaviour, libido and potency were studied and compared with the standard reference drug sildenafil citrate. Likely adverse effects and acute toxicity of the extract were also evaluated. RESULTS: Oral administration of the extract at the dose of 500 mg/kg, produced significant augmentation of sexual activity in male rats. It significantly increased the Mounting Frequency, Intromission Frequency, Intromission Latency and caused significant reduction in the Mounting Latency and Post Ejaculatory Interval. It also significantly increased Mounting Frequency with penile anaesthetization as well as Erections, Quick Flips, Long Flips and the aggregate of penile reflexes with penile stimulation. The extract was also observed to be devoid of any adverse effects and acute toxicity. CONCLUSION: The resultant significant and sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats without any conspicuous adverse effects indicates that the 50% ethanolic extract of nutmeg possesses aphrodisiac activity, increasing both libido and potency, which might be attributed to its nervous stimulating property. The present study thus provides a scientific rationale for the traditional use of nutmeg in the management of male sexual disorders.

 

[ii] BMC Complement Altern Med. 2003 Oct 20;3:6. Click here to read

Aphrodisiac activity of 50% ethanolic extracts of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg) and Syzygium aromaticum (L) Merr. & Perry. (clove) in male mice: a comparative study.

Tajuddin , Ahmad S , Latif A , Qasmi IA .

Department of Ilmul Advia (Unani Pharmacology), Faculty of Unani Medicine, Aligarh Muslim University , Aligarh-202002, India . tajuddin@rediffmail.com

BACKGROUND: Spices are considered as sexual invigorators in the Unani System of Medicine. In order to explore the sexual function improving effect of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg) and Syzygium aromaticum (L) Merr. & Perry. (clove) an experimental study was conducted in normal male mice. METHODS: The extracts (50% ethanolic) of nutmeg and clove were administered (500 mg/kg; p.o.) to different groups of male Swiss mice. Mounting behaviour, mating performance, and general short term toxicity of the test drugs were determined and compared with the standard drug Penegra (Sildenafil citrate). RESULTS: The extracts of the nutmeg and clove were found to stimulate the mounting behaviour of male mice, and also to significantly increase their mating performance. The drugs were devoid of any conspicuous general short term toxicity. CONCLUSION: The extracts (50% ethanolic) of nutmeg and clove enhanced the sexual behaviour of male mice.

 

[iii] J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):84-9.

Antidepressant-like activity of n-hexane extract of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) seeds in mice.

Dhingra D , Sharma A .

Pharmacology Division, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guru Jambheshwar University , Hisar, Haryana , India . din_dhingra@rediffmail.com

The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of an n-hexane extract of Myristica fragrans seeds on depression in mice by using the forced swim test (FST) and the tail suspension test (TST). M. fragrans extract (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg) was administered orally for 3 successive days to different groups of Swiss male young albino mice. M. fragrans extract significantly decreased immobility periods of mice in both the FST and the TST. The 10 mg/kg dose was found to be most potent, as indicated by the greatest decrease in the immobility period compared with the control. Furthermore, this dose of the extract was found to have comparable potency to imipramine (15 mg/kg i.p.) and fluoxetine (20 mg/kg i.p.). The extract did not have a significant effect on locomotor activity of mice. Prazosin (62.5 microg/kg i.p.; an alpha (1)-adrenoceptor antagonist), sulpiride (50 mg/kg i.p.; a selective D(2) receptor antagonist), and p-chlorophenylalanine (100 mg/kg i.p.; an inhibitor of serotonin synthesis) significantly attenuated the M. fragrans extract-induced antidepressant-like effect in the TST. Thus, extract of M. fragrans elicited a significant antidepressant-like effect in mice, when assessed in both the TST and the FST. The antidepressant-like effect of the extract seems to be mediated by interaction with the adrenergic, dopaminergic, and serotonergic systems.

PMID: 16579733 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[iv] Prague Med Rep. 2005;106(1):27-38. Links

Christmas gingerbread (Lebkuchen) and Christmas cheer--review of the potential role of mood elevating amphetamine-like compounds formed in vivo and in furno.

Idle JR .

Institute of Pharmacology of the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University , Prague , Czech Republic . jidle@lf1.cuni.cz

The typical spices used in winter include nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and anise. These spices contain two groups of chemicals, the allylbenzenes and their isomers, the propenylbenzenes. It was suggested 40 years ago by Alexander Shulgin that these substances act as metabolic precursors of amphetamines. The biotransformation of these precursors to nitrogen-containing metabolites is reviewed. These reactions have not been reported in humans. Whether or not the pharmacology and toxicology of spices such as nutmeg can be explained on the basis of their allylbenzene or propenylbenzene content is speculative. Humans may be exposed to amphetamines derived from these precursors in forno, the formation during baking and cooking, for example in the preparation of Lebkuchen, or Christmas gingerbread. It is possible that this may be responsible, in part, for uplifting our mood in winter. However, the role of these aromatic substances, acting simply as odours, evoking old memories of winters past, cannot be ignored. Whether spices have a true pharmacological effect or they act as aromatherapy remains to be elucidated through clinical and laboratory studies.

PMID: 16007907 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[v] Phytother Res. 2007 Jul 18; [Epub ahead of print] Links

Screening of Indian medicinal plants for acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity.

Mukherjee PK , Kumar V , Houghton PJ .

Department of Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy Research Laboratories, Franklin - Wilkins Building, King's College London , 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH , UK .

The cholinergic hypothesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) has provided the rationale for the current pharmaco-therapy of this disease, in an attempt to reduce the cognitive decline caused by cholinergic deficits. Nevertheless, the search for potent and long-acting acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors that exert minimal side effects in AD patients is still ongoing. AChE inhibitors are currently the only approved therapy for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease; only a limited number of drugs are commercially available. Hydroalcohol extracts of six herbs, Andrographis paniculata, Centella asiatica, Evalvulus alsinoides, Nardostachys jatamansi, Nelumbo nucifera, Myristica fragrans used in Indian systems of medicine, were tested for in vitro acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity based on Ellman's method in 96-well microplates using AChE obtained from bovine erythrocytes. The results showed that the hydroalcohol extract from Centella asiatica, Nardostachys jatamansi, Myristica fragrans, Evalvulus alsinoides inhibited 50% of AChE activity at concentrations of 100-150 microg/m L. Andrographis paniculata and Nelumbo nucifera extracts showed a weak inhibition of acetylcholinesterase with IC(50) values of 222.41 +/- 19.87 microg/mL and 185.55 +/- 21.24 microg/mL, respectively. Physostigmine was used as a standard and showed inhibition of acetylcholinesterase with an IC(50) value of 0.076 +/- 0.0042 microg/mL. Copyright (c) 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

PMID: 17639556 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

 

[vi] J Med Food. 2006 Summer;9(2):281-3. Links

Comparative brain cholinesterase-inhibiting activity of Glycyrrhiza glabra, Myristica fragrans, ascorbic acid, and metrifonate in mice.

Dhingra D , Parle M , Kulkarni SK .

Pharmacology Division, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Haryana , India . din_dhingra@rediffmail.com

The central cholinergic pathways play a prominent role in the learning and memory processes. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that inactivates acetylcholine. The present study was undertaken to estimate the acetylcholinesterase- inhibiting activity of extracts of Glycyrrhiza glabra, Myristica fragrans seeds, and ascorbic acid and compare these values with a standard acetylcholinesterase-inhibiting drug, metrifonate. Aqueous extract of G. glabra (150 mg/kg p.o. for 7 successive days), n-hexane extract of M. fragrans seeds (5 mg/kg p.o. for 3 successive days), ascorbic acid (60 mg/kg i.p. for 3 successive days), and metrifonate (50 mg/kg i.p.) were administered to young male Swiss albino mice. Acetylcholinesterase enzyme was estimated in brains of mice. G. glabra, M. fragrans, ascorbic acid, and metrifonate significantly decreased acetylcholinesterase activity as compared with their respective vehicle-treated control groups.

 

[vii] J Med Food. 2004 Summer;7(2):157-61. Links

Improvement of mouse memory by Myristica fragrans seeds.

Parle M , Dhingra D , Kulkarni SK .

Pharmacology Division, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guru Jambheshwar University , Hisar-125001, Haryana , India . mparle@rediffmail.com

Memory is one of the most complex functions of the brain and involves multiple neural pathways and neurotransmitter systems. The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of Myristica fragrans (MF) seeds on learning and memory in mice. The n-hexane extract of MF was administered orally in three doses (5, 10, and 20 mg/kg p.o.) for 3 successive days to different groups of young and aged mice. The learning and memory parameters were assessed using elevated plus-maze and passive-avoidance apparatus. The effect of MF extract on scopolamine (0.4 mg/kg i.p.)- and diazepam (1 mg/kg i.p.)-induced impairment in learning and memory was also studied. MF extract at the lowest dose of 5 mg/kg p.o. administered for 3 successive days significantly improved learning and memory of young and aged mice. This extract also reversed scopolamine- and diazepam-induced impairment in learning and memory of young mice. MF extract enhanced learning and retention capacities of both young and aged mice. The exact mechanism of the memory-improving effect of MF extract was not explored in the present study. But, the observed memory-enhancing effect may be attributed to a variety of properties (individually or in combination) the plant is reported to possess, such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or perhaps procholinergic activity.

PMID: 15298762 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[viii] Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Apr;45(4):517-29. Epub 2006 Oct 24. Links

Safety assessment of myristic acid as a food ingredient.

Burdock GA , Carabin IG .

Burdock Group, Washington DC 20006 , USA . gburdock@burdockgroup.com

Myristic acid is used in the food industry as a flavor ingredient. It is found widely distributed in fats throughout the plant and animal kingdom, including common human foodstuffs, such as nutmeg. Myristic acid (a 14-carbon, straight-chain saturated fatty acid) has been shown to have a low order of acute oral toxicity in rodents. It may be irritating in pure form to skin and eyes under exaggerated exposure conditions, but is not known or predicted to induce sensitization responses. Myristic acid did not induce a mutagenic response in either bacterial or mammalian systems in vitro. Relevant subchronic toxicity data are available on closely related fatty acid analogs. In particular, a NOEL of >6000mg/kg was reported for lauric acid (a 12-carbon, straight-chain saturated fatty acid) following dietary exposure to male rats for 18 weeks and a NOEL of >5000mg/kg was reported for palmitic acid (a 16-carbon, straight-chain saturated fatty acid) following dietary exposure to rats for 150 days. The data and information that are available indicate that at the current level of intake, food flavoring use of myristic acid does not pose a health risk to humans.

 

[ix] Ther Drug Monit. 2006 Aug;28(4):568-75. Links

Abuse of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.): studies on the metabolism and the toxicologic detection of its ingredients elemicin, myristicin, and safrole in rat and human urine using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.

Beyer J , Ehlers D , Maurer HH .

Department of Experimental and Clinical Toxicology, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Saarland , Homburg ( Saar ), Germany .

Seeds of nutmeg are used as spice, but they are also abused because of psychotropic effects described after ingestion of large doses. It was postulated that these effects could be attributable to metabolic formation of amphetamine derivatives from the main nutmeg ingredients elemicin (EL), myristicin (MY), and safrole (SA). In a case of a suspected nutmeg abuse, neither such amphetamine derivatives nor the main nutmeg ingredients could be detected in urine. The metabolites of EL, MY, and SA were identified using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in rat urine and their presence in human urine of the nutmeg abuser was confirmed. The identified metabolites indicated that EL, MY, and SA were once and twice hydroxylated at the side chain. In addition, EL was O-demethylated at 2 positions followed by side chain hydroxylation. MY and SA were demethylenated and subsequently methylated. In the human urine sample, the following metabolites could be identified: O-demethyl elemicin, O-demethyl dihydroxy elemicin, demethylenyl myristicin, dihydroxy myristicin, and demethylenyl safrole. As in the human urine sample, neither amphetamine derivatives nor the main nutmeg ingredients could be detected in the rat urine samples. Finally, toxicologic detection of nutmeg abuse was possible by identification of the described metabolites of the EL, MY, and SA in urine applying the authors' systematic toxicologic analysis procedure using full-scan gas chromatography-mass spectrometry after acid hydrolysis, liquid-liquid extraction of analytes, and microwave-assisted acetylation of extracted analytes.

PMID: 16885726 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLIN

 

[x] Hum Exp Toxicol. 2005 Nov;24(11):563-6. Links

Nutmeg intoxication in Texas , 1998-2004.

Forrester MB .

Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit, Texas Department of State Health Services, Austin 78756 , USA . mathias.forrester@dshs.state.tx.us

Nutmeg is a spice that contains volatile oils comprised of alkyl benzene derivatives (myristicin, elemicin, safrole, etc.), terpenes and myristic acid. Nutmeg has a long history of abuse. This study describes the nutmeg ingestion calls received by Texas poison centers from 1998 to 2004. There were 17 calls involving nutmeg ingestion, of which 64.7% involved intentional abuse. When abuse and non-abuse ingestions were compared, abuse ingestions were more likely to involve males (100 versus 66.7%) and adolescents (55.6 versus 16.7%). The majority of both abuse and non-abuse calls were managed outside of health care facilities (54.5 and 66.7%, respectively). None of the ingestions resulted in more than moderate clinical effects or death.

PMID: 16323572 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[xi] Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 1998 Nov 20;118(28):4346-7. Links

[Nutmeg--more than a spice]

[Article in Norwegian]

Pytte M , Rygnestad T .

Avdeling for legemidler, Regionsykehuset i Trondheim .

Nutmeg is an easily obtainable spice that has been widely used domestically for centuries because of its psychotropic effects. Several cases of nutmeg poisoning, including one fatality, have been published. The active ingredients are volatile oils where myristicin and elemicin are thought to be the most important constituents. These have anticholinergic and psychotropic properties and are metabolised to compounds similar to amphetamine. We present the first reported case of nutmeg poisoning in Norway .

PMID: 9889604 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[xii] Eur J Emerg Med. 2004 Aug;11(4):240-1. Links

Acute nutmeg poisoning.

McKenna A , Nordt SP , Ryan J .

Emergency Department, St Vincent 's University Hospital , Elm Park , Dublin 4, Ireland .

We present a case of acute nutmeg poisoning in a 16-year-old youth who had ingested the substance for recreational purposes. He developed a number of neurological symptoms and signs along with non-specific electrocardiographic changes and anti-cholinergic-type symptoms. We describe the pharmacology of nutmeg and its constituents, discuss its metabolism, and make recommendations about the management of nutmeg poisoning. Emergency staff should be aware of the effects of nutmeg, which may present in marijuana users who seek alternative substances.

PMID: 15249817 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[xiii] Pest Manag Sci. 2007 Sep;63(9):935-40. Links

Isolation and antifungal activity of lignans from Myristica fragrans against various plant pathogenic fungi.

Cho JY , Choi GJ , Son SW , Jang KS , Lim HK , Lee SO , Sung ND , Cho KY , Kim JC .

Bio-Control Research Team, Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology, Yusong PO Box 107 , Taejon 305-600, Republic of Korea .

BACKGROUND: In a search for plant extracts with potent in vivo antifungal activity against various plant diseases, we found that treatment with a methanol extract of Myristica fragrans Houttyn (nutmeg) seeds reduced the development of various plant diseases. The objectives of the present study were to isolate and determine antifungal substances from My. fragrans and to evaluate their antifungal activities. RESULTS: Three antifungal lignans were isolated from the methanol extract of My. fragrans seeds and identified as erythro-austrobailignan-6 (EA6), meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid (MDA) and nectandrin-B (NB). In vitro antimicrobial activity of the three lignans varied according to compound and target species. Alternaria alternata, Colletotrichum coccodes, C. gloeosporioides, Magnaporthe grisea, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Acidovorax konjaci and Burkholderia glumae were relatively sensitive to the three lignans. In vivo, all three compounds effectively suppressed the development of rice blast and wheat leaf rust. In addition, EA6 and NB were highly active against the development of barley powdery mildew and tomato late blight, respectively. Both MDA and NB also moderately inhibited the development of rice sheath blight. CONCLUSION: This is the first study to demonstrate the in vitro and in vivo antifungal activities of the three lignans from My. fragrans against plant pathogenic fungi. 2007 Society of Chemical Industry

PMID: 17659535 [PubMed - in process]

 

[xiv] J Med Food. 2006 Fall;9(3):395-9. Links

Antibacterial principles from Myristica fragrans seeds.

Narasimhan B , Dhake AS .

Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Guru Jambheshwar University , Hisar, Haryana , India .

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) is used in food preparations for its aromatic flavor. The present investigation was undertaken to evaluate the antibacterial activity of constituents of M. fragrans seeds. Seeds of M. fragrans were powdered and extracted with chloroform to obtain trimyristin, which on saponification yielded myristic acid. The mother liquor remaining after separation of trimyristin was concentrated and column-chromatographed with petroleum ether to separate myristicin. Antibacterial activity of these isolated constituents was evaluated by determination of minimum inhibitory concentration against selected Gram-positive and Gram-negative organisms. All the constituents isolated from nutmeg exhibited good antibacterial activity. This study shows the potential of natural compounds in replacement of synthetic preservatives.

PMID: 17004905 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[xv] J Biosci Bioeng. 2002;94(4):315-20. Links

Antimicrobial activity of nutmeg against Escherichia coli O157.

Takikawa A , Abe K , Yamamoto M , Ishimaru S , Yasui M , Okubo Y , Yokoigawa K .

Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Nara Women's University, Nara 630-8263, Japan .

We examined the difference between Escherichia coli O157 and non-pathogenic E. coli in their tolerance to spices. Various spices (5 g each) were homogenized at 25 degrees C for 10 min with 5 ml of 70% ethyl alcohol, and the supernatant solutions obtained by centrifugation were used as spice extracts. When the E. coli strains were incubated with each spice extract at concentrations of 0.01% and 0.1%, a noteworthy difference was observed between the O157 and non-pathogenic strains in their tolerance to nutmeg. The populations of the non-pathogenic strains could not be reduced, but those of the O157 strains were remarkably reduced. Antibacterial activity by the nutmeg extract was also found against the enteropathogenic E. coli O111, but not against enterotoxigenic (O6 and O148) and enteroinvasive (O29 and O124) E. coli. When we examined the antibacterial effect of volatile oils in nutmeg on the O157 and non-pathogenic E. coli strains, all O157 strains tested were found to be more sensitive to beta-pinene than non-pathogenic E. coli strains.

PMID: 16233309 [PubMed]

 

[xvi] Phytomedicine. 2006 Mar;13(4):261-6. Epub 2005 Jun 28. Links

Anticariogenic activity of macelignan isolated from Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) against Streptococcus mutans.

Chung JY , Choo JH , Lee MH , Hwang JK .

Department of Biomaterials Science and Engineering, Yonsei University , Seoul , South Korea .

The occurrence of dental caries is mainly associated with oral pathogens, especially cariogenic Streptococcus mutans. Preliminary antibacterial screening revealed that the extract of Myristica fragrans, widely cultivated for the spice and flavor of foods, possessed strong inhibitory activity against S. mutans. The anticariogenic compound was successfully isolated from the methanol extract of M. fragrans by repeated silica gel chromatography, and its structure was identified as macelignan by instrumental analysis using 1D-NMR, 2D-NMR and EI-MS. The minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of macelignan against S. mutans was 3.9 microg/ml, which was much lower than those of other natural anticariogenic agents such as 15.6 microg/ml of sanguinarine, 250 microg/ml of eucalyptol, 500 microg/ml of menthol and thymol, and 1000 microg/ml of methyl salicylate. Macelignan also possessed preferential activity against other oral microorganisms such as Streptococcus sobrinus, Streptococcus salivarius, Streptococcus sanguis, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei in the MIC range of 2-31.3 microg/ml. In particular, the bactericidal test showed that macelignan, at a concentration of 20 microg/ml, completely inactivated S. mutans in 1 min. The specific activity and fast-effectiveness of macelignan against oral bacteria strongly suggest that it could be employed as a natural antibacterial agent in functional foods or oral care products.

PMID: 16492529 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

 

[xvii] J Med Entomol. 2007 May;44(3):524-9. Links

Toxicity of Myristica fagrans seed compounds against Blattella germanica (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae).

Jung WC , Jang YS , Hieu TT , Lee CK , Ahn YJ .

School of Agricultural Biotechnology, Seoul National University , Seoul 151-921, Republic of Korea .

The insecticidal constituents of hexane-soluble fraction from a methanolic extract of the seeds from Myristica fragrans (Myristicaceae) against adult females of Blattella germanica (L.) (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae) were analyzed by gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The insecticidal activity of 13 Myristica seed compounds against female B. germanica was examined by using the filter-paper contact toxicity and vapor phase toxicity bioassays. Results were compared with those of the other 23 known compounds of Myristica seed and currently used insecticides: dichlorvos, deltamethrin, permethrin, and propoxur. In contact toxicity tests using female B. germanica, (IS)-(-) -beta-pinene (0.06 mg/cm2) was the most toxic insecticide, based on 24-h LD50 values. The insecticidal activity of this compound was comparable with that of permethrin (0.05 mg/cm2). (1R)-(+) -Camphor, (1S)-(-) -camphor, dipentene, (1R)-(+) -3-pinene, and (+)-alpha-terpineol (0.10-0.14 mg/cm2) were more toxic than propoxur (0.19 mg/cm2). (E)-Sabinene hydrate and propoxur were almost equitoxic. Potent insecticidal activity also was observed with (R)-(+) -citronellal, (S)-(-) -citronellal, (R)-(-) -alpha-phellandrene, (1S)-(-) -alpha-pinene, (1R)-(+) -alpha-pinene, and safrole (0.27-0.48 mg/cm2). In vapor phase toxicity tests, the compounds tested were effective in closed but not in open containers. These results indicate that the effect of these compounds was largely a result of action in the vapor phase. Myristica seed compounds described merit further study as potential insecticides or as leads for the control of cockroaches.

PMID: 17547241 [PubMed - in process]

 

[xviii] J Radiat Res (Tokyo). 2007 Mar;48(2):135-41. Epub 2007 Feb 22. Links

Radioprotection of Swiss albino mice by Myristica fragrans houtt.

Sharma M , Kumar M .

Cell and Molecular Biology Lab, Department of Zoology, University of Rajasthan , Jaipur , India .

Nutmeg, the dried seed kernel of Myristica fragrans, MF (Family: Myristicaceae) possesses antifungal, hepatoprotective and antioxidant properties. Its radioprotective effect against 6, 8 and 10 Gy gamma radiation was evaluated by 30 day survival assay. Regression analysis yielded LD(50/30 )as 6.83 Gy and 8.89 Gy for irradiated only and (MF + radiation) groups, respectively. The dose reduction factor was computed as 1.3. Administration of MF significantly enhanced hepatic glutathione (GSH) and decreased testicular lipid peroxidation (LPO) level whereas acid phosphatase (ACP) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity did not show any significant alteration. Irradiation resulted in significant elevation in LPO level and ACP activity, and decreased the GSH content and ALP activity. MF pretreatment effectively protected against radiation induced biochemical alteration as reflected by a decrease in LPO level and ACP activity, and an increase in GSH and ALP activity. The present study has implications for the potential use of MF as a radioprotector.

 


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