Edition 31: May 2011
Essential Oil of the Month
Nutmeg assuages pain and debility
THE NAME nutmeg comes from the old French “nois muguende”, which means “nut musk”.
Throughout history nutmeg was used extensively in numerous medications and was the a much-prized spice in the medieval era when it was grated and mixed with lard as an ointment for piles.
Nutmeg reached India through the British East India Company where it became prominent in Indian cooking and medicine, where it was used for intestinal disorders.
The Egyptians used nutmeg for embalming and the Italians used it as incense believing it effective against the plague and it was popular in England during the time of Elizabeth I.
Connecticut gets its nickname (the Nutmeg State) from the legend that some unscrupulous Connecticut traders would whittle ‘nutmeg’ out of wood, creating a ‘wooden nutmeg’ (a term which came to mean any fraud).
In Victorian England, nutmeg powder was used to flavour milk puddings and custards, suitable for convalescence. In Malaysia the nutmeg herb is used during pregnancy to strengthen and tone uterine muscles. Nutmeg oil is also one of the few natural flavours in Coca-Cola and it is also used in the tobacco industry.
Nutmeg oil is steam distilled from the worm-eaten nutmeg seed (the worms eat the starch and fat in the seed) to obtain a sweet, warm-spicy essence with a terpene-like top note. The fruit is bright red-to-purple when harvested but after drying, changes to amber. The spice known as mace is different again; it is the covering or arillus, the thin leathery tissue between the stone and the pulp.
Nutmeg is an effective anti-inflammatory that can be used as part of a liniment blend for muscular aches and pains, gout and particularly rheumatic neuralgia and it works well with a heat pack to reduce the swelling of the joints. This oil can be very helpful to assuage pain from lumbago sprains and strains, especially over-exerted muscles after sport.
Nutmeg's stimulating action is reputed to aid in asthenia (loss of physical strength, debility) and neuralgia (severe pain along the nerves). This warming, spicy essential oil generally quells pain including abdominal pain and inflammation.
DID YOU KNOW?
Nutmeg trees are mainly cultivated in Grenada, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, where nutmeg oil is usually distilled. However, the essential oil is also distilled in Europe and the US from imported seeds. In Grenada, it is a national symbol displayed with pride in their country’s red, yellow and green flag.
Nutmeg oil is a tonic for the reproductive system; as it imitates the hormone oestrogen, it tends to regulate menstrual irregularities and ease cramps.
The oil is used to aid in childbirth by strengthening contractions. The abdomen is massaged daily in the three weeks before the baby is due with a mixture of 2ml nutmeg oil and 2ml jasmine oil (or 15ml Tinderbox Jasmine Dew) in 100ml almond oil (or Tinderbox Carrier Oil). Nutmeg oil is valued as a stimulant for the reproductive system, assisting with sexual problems, relieving frigidity and impotence.
One can use nutmeg oil as a digestive to help ease stomach aches and remove gas from the stomach and intestine. Its key actions treat indigestion, flatulence, nausea, vomiting and it relieves diarrhoea. It also encourages appetite and acts as an excellent digestive stimulant for those who have trouble digesting food while also averting constipation.
Nutmeg oil is a liver tonic, known for its ability to treat liver diseases, aiding the removal of toxins from the liver and breaking down fats and starchy foods.
It is recommended to help dissolve gallstones and often indicated for treating kidney infections and kidney diseases, including dissolving kidney stones.
Nutmeg oil’s relaxing aroma is helpful in lowering blood pressure. It is considered a tonic for the cardiovascular system and regular massage with nutmeg oil helps to stimulate healthy blood circulation. Warming and stimulating to the respiratory system, nutmeg oil can be an effective ingredient in cough syrups and cold rubs and a component to the prevention of asthma.
Being antiseptic in nature, nutmeg is reputed to fight bacterial infection and is an efficacious addition to toothpastes. Its spicy aroma also helps to alleviate bad breath. Like clove oil, this essential oil can be applied as an emergency treatment to dull toothache.
Oil spices up brain, nerves and sex-life
The pleasant, woody scent of nutmeg makes an excellent addition to room fresheners and incense for disinfecting the home and work space. The antiseptic properties of nutmeg make it useful in the manufacture of soaps and toiletries adding a refreshing note to shaving lotions and creams. Nutmeg oil, used in a low ratio, is stimulating in cosmetics meant for dull, prematurely wrinkled skin and it demonstrates a good toning action on the hair.
Where nutmeg is used as a popular spice in cooking, the actual essential oil may be used in very tiny amounts for that unique flavour that is so delicious in sweets, baked goods, sauces, ice cream and custards.
It is a versatile spicy taste that can be also used judiciously in potato dishes and meat preparations, as well as a curry ingredient.
Use nutmeg oil with discretion. You can add a drop to honey for flavouring food and it works as an ingredient in spiced tea, hot cider or mulled wine.
Nutmeg oil is an invigorating and stimulating brain tonic that has psychotropic or psychoactive properties (especially if ingested orally) that affect mental activity and perception; it must be used with great respect.
An uplifting nerve tonic, nutmeg is warm and welcoming for nervous fatigue, mental exhaustion and stress.
It stimulates adrenal cortex-like activity (supporting the adrenals and increasing energy) and in this way it is beneficial for fainting and a good remedy for anxiety as well as depression.
Overall, it is euphoric; comforting and elevating; good to use when you are at the end of your tether.
Vapour Therapy: nutmeg oil can be helpful with the nervous system, digestive system, muscular aches and pains, as well as invigorating and stimulating the mind.
Massage/Bath Oil: nutmeg oil helps with muscular aches and pains, gout, rheumatism, gallstones, arthritis, circulation, digestive disorders and sexual problems.
It works well in meditation blends and mood perfumes, increasing creativity and imagination, bringing back a zest for life. Nutmeg oil also enhances concentration and increases your overall efficiency at study and work.
It is also believed that nutmeg oil improves the quality of your dreams, making them more intense and colourful.
Nutmeg eases a sense of betrayal and loss, helping us to understand the impermanence of life; this increases flexibility and spontaneity and cultivates the attitude that life is an adventure full of amazing surprises.
Nutmeg’s comforting smell reduces the anguish from losing sentimental possessions; it helps facilitate a feeling of detachment, so we understand that material possessions are not important on life’s journey.
The scent facilitates abundance and diminishes limitation by shifting the attitude of loss to that of opportunity where new foundations can be built.
For those who feel at a loss from not having roots because they travel or move home a lot; nutmeg helps provide support and a sense of internal security.
When nutmeg oil permeates our being, it releases the restraints of rigidity and the illusion of permanence that so suppresses spontaneity.
The energy of nutmeg works at cleansing the pancreas, which constricts from a lack of joy in life. Lower back pain can come about from not feeling supported in life and a good massage with nutmeg oil will alleviate this pain.
During times of emotional anguish, using this oil helps transform feelings of pessimism and hopelessness; encouraging us lighten up when we take ourselves too seriously.
Being with nutmeg reminds that there is no right or wrong, only the need to experience; it allows us to unleash the wild free spirit within.
Latin name: Myristica fragrans
What is it? Nutmeg is a tall, evergreen tree that can reach up to 20m high with dense foliage and small yellow flowers without petals. One male tree is said to pollinate twenty female trees. Nutmeg is not a nut, but the kernel or seed of an apricot-like fruit.
Scent: Nutmeg oil has a fresh, spicy top note and deep, sweet, warm and woody undertones. It is somewhat musky in aroma.
Nutmeg oil blends well with: lavender, rosemary, black pepper, clary sage, eucalyptus, ginger, geranium, petit grain and ylang-ylang. It blends beautifully with the sweeter citrus oils, for example orange, and with other spice oils.
Therapeutic properties: analgesic, anti-emetic, anti-oxidant, anti-rheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, emmenagogue, laxative, parturient, stimulant and tonic.
Precautions: Nutmeg oil is considered non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising, yet in very large dosage may become toxic with symptoms such as nausea and possibly convulsions and hallucinations. This is due to the myristicin contained in the oil. It should be used with caution during pregnancy.