Call me crazy, but nutmeg has always been one of my favorite spices. And that’s not just because I like eggnog. Perhaps my first exposure to nutmeg was sprinkled on top of my grandmother’s tapioca pudding and in her spice cake which I preferred over chocolate cake any day! Just thinking about it now is causing my mouth to water.

One day my dad told us this story about nutmeg. When he was a young boy suffering from asthma, he had to wear a whole nutmeg on a string around his neck. That was the folk cure for asthma back then. All I can say is that he grew out of his asthma and never had problems as an adult!

Nutmeg actually has been used over the ages for a number of medicinal applications. It’s not just a spice for the kitchen cabinet!

Some health benefits and uses include:

1. As a good source of manganese and other minerals, it can support blood clotting, blood sugar levels, strong bones and healthy tissue.

2. Contains antioxidants that support brain health and a good memory. Myristicin is one phytonutrient that has shown to inhibit an enzyme that contributes to Alzheimer’s. It’s also used to stimulate dreams!

3. Used to treat anxiety and depression in homeopathic remedies.

4. Helps with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, indigestion and most stomach related issues.

5. Considered to be an aphrodisiac, increasing male virility. 

6. It’s an anti-inflammatory that can improve joint health.

7. Supports and stimulates the circulatory system and heart health.

8. Considered a liver and kidney tonic, and is used for detoxification.

9. And of course, it’s good for the respiratory system. It is used for coughs, and nutmeg oil is even an ingredient in Vick’s alcohol-free cough syrup!

Folk medicine claims benefits for asthmatics, but little research has been done to determine the validity of that claim, even though my father’s experience supports it!

No side effects or contraindications have been noted, other than its ability to have a narcotic or hallucinagenic effect when taken in large amounts, over 6 tablespoons. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could take more than 6 tablespoons or even 1 tablespoon for that matter. A little goes a long way! I wouldn’t suggest trying it.

Once nutmeg has been ground, it begins to lose its flavor, so I like to buy it in small spice containers like the one in the photo above. You can also buy the whole nutmeg and grate it as needed. That will provide the freshest and most intense flavor. Nutmeg is used in desserts, egg dishes, cream sauces, soups and meat dishes. Nutmeg combines beautifully with cinnamon, so you’ll often see it in pumpkin pie and apple desserts like the apple crisp I made for October’s recipe. Check it out in my blog entry Maple Nutmeg Apple Crisp.

Bobbi Mullins

September 27, 2014


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