Home » Herbalism » Nutmeg


(Myristica fragrans)

The nutmeg fruit consists of an edible rind, an innermost seed or nut that is ground to make nutmeg, and a brightly colored lace-like waxy coating (called the aril) that we use to get the more delicately flavored spice mace. When the seed is dried, larger seeds are considered to be inferior, as the smaller seeds have a greater concentration of oils.  Nutmeg is best stored whole and grated fresh when needed, as the oils evaporate quickly when exposed to air.

Cautions: Do not take if you are pregnant and avoid serving nutmeg to children as it may be too easy to give them too high of a dose. Do not take internally in high doses. Make sure that you check several trusted sources for appropriate dosage to be careful. Remember that even in cooking, the recipe usually only calls for a pinch of nutmeg, it’s potent and a little goes a long way. Large doses are said to cause hallucinations. There are people who try to induce hallucinations recreationally with nutmeg, but an overdose can be fatal. Some medications can interact poorly with nutmeg, especially those processed in the liver, consult with a physician before using.

Medicinal Properties

Anti-spasmodic, anodyne, digestive, hypnotic

Nutmeg, like many culinary spices, is a digestive. It promotes enzyme activity in the stomach, and prevents fermentation of poorly digested food in the intestines. It may be helpful for stomach spasms, gas cramps, nausea, and diarrhea. It also helps to remove toxins from the joints, liver, and spleen. It can increase menstrual flow (therefore avoid when pregnant to prevent risk of miscarriage). It can be helpful with insomnia. It can alleviate topical pain, making it potentially useful in gargles for sensitive teeth. Also use in compresses and poultices on painful areas, especially for joint complaints.

Preparation and Dosage: Really, its benefits seem similar to other herbs and spices that could be used instead and perhaps more safely, making it seem like not quite worth the risk involved to attempt a therapeutic dose. However, it is a good herb to use as a boosting herb for a pumpkin spice blend, lending support to the other herbs for the warming and digestive qualities and helping to decrease the stresses of winter. Don’t overdo it though. Make sure there is a relatively low amount of nutmeg in your pumpkin spice blend.

Magical Properties

Leo, Sagittarius, Pisces

Attraction, health, luck, money, psychic ability

Nutmeg is sometimes carried for luck, and can be combined with star anise and tonka beans. Mostly it is carried to promote health, warding off joint pain and skin disorders, but it can also draw prosperity. In Europe, men carried nutmeg in small graters made of precious materials such as silver or ivory due to nutmeg’s associations with virility and to draw admirers. The scent of nutmeg is used to calm the spirits and enhance the senses. A pinch added to foods may increase psychic awareness along with your other senses. Rather than the “walk your own path of luck” feel that allspice has, nutmeg appears to enhance intuition to help guide you to where you need to be, though it still contains the boost to being able to act the way you need to act to make your luck improve. The warding of pain may also include the warding of burdens and discomfort in a more psychological manner.

Mace (Masculine, Air, and Mercury) is the outer covering of the nutmeg and is burned to improve mental and psychic abilities. This may actually be more suitable to draw admirers than nutmeg, as it would enhance your ability to communicate, increasing your ability to charm.

Culinary Possibilities

Nutmeg is used to alter the flavor of dishes rather than to flavor them; unlike adding a spice such as cinnamon so that we can enjoy a cinnamon flavor, if you can actually taste the nutmeg it is said that you added to much. Rather, just a pinch is used to enhance other existing flavors and add complexity. It is frequently used with cinnamon in sweet dishes such as custards, cookies, and cakes. It is also frequently paired with cheese in sauces and soufflés, in Middle Eastern lamb dishes, and Italian mortadella sausages. Nutmeg’s flavor fades very quickly once ground, for the best flavor the spice should be grated just before use. The whole nuts keep very well, and both the nut and the ground spice should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark location.

Relevant Posts

The Health Benefits of Homemade Pumpkin Spice Blend


Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.
The Magic Teaspoon: Transform Your Meals with the Power of Healing Herbs and Spices by Victoria Zak.

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