Unusual Essential Oils: Nutmeg

by Penny Price December 02, 2022 6 min read

Unusual Essential Oils: Nutmeg

I remember my father Len, telling me that in olden days, nutmegs were smuggled into prisons to be passed to inmates for them to chew. The reason? Nutmeg is extremely relaxing and sleep-inducing, having an almost narcotic effect on the mind! No wonder they wanted it – to alleviate the long days and sleep through the nights! In my blog, we will discover the history and present day uses of this little-used oil.

About Nutmeg The Tree

The botanical name of Nutmeg Essential Oil is Myristica fragrans, and the tree is part of the Myristicaceae plant family. Nutmeg Essential Oil is found in the dried seeds of the Nutmeg tree, which yield around 10-15% of volatile oil. The height of Myristica fragrans can range from about 5-20 meters (16-66 feet). One interesting fact about this little evergreen tree is that it is also dioecious, which means that 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 originally native to the Spice Islands and Indonesia, but is now also grown in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, and the Caribbean region, amongst other countries. The ideal growing conditions include warm temperatures (20 - 30°C), a l 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.

Harvesting Nutmeg

The first harvesting of Nutmeg is usually around seven years of planting, and then the tree begins to bear fruit all year round. The Nutmeg fruits are about the size of peaches, and they burst open when they are ripe to reveal the Nutmeg seed and its characteristic red mace - a soft, mesh covering that is around the seed.

Following the harvest period, the mace is removed and the seeds are left to dry out in the sun for one or two months, before the kernels are steam distilled. Nutmeg Essential Oil is a volatile oil that is thin and light-yellowish, and has a soft-spicy scent with a the familiar Nutmeg undertone of heavy musky-spice.

History & Traditional Uses 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 has a long 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 find this spice, and, in an attempt to hide its location, began to create legends about its roots. Nutmeg later entered European trading, where only the wealthy could afford to taste its earthy, spicy-sweet taste. Then, when medieval doctors claimed that it could be the only antidote to the Black Death pandemic, prices for the already-expensive spice soared. The battle over Nutmeg got even more ferocious in the 1600s, when the Dutch began the infamous 'Nutmeg Wars' on the soils of the Banda Islands, ending after the English invaded the region and successfully re-distributed the seeds towards East Asia.

Nutmeg, along with its essential oil, was regarded as something of a mystical spice, with 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 (and still claim today) that ingesting Nutmeg (with the mace) could also induce hallucinations, euphoria, paranoia and sleep!

In Ancient China, Nutmeg Essential Oil was used as a remedy against liver and abdominal problems, and Indian Ayurvedic practitioners used it for symptoms of fever as well as to help alleviate pain, coughing, flatulence, and menstrual problems. In addition, Ancient Egyptians used Nutmeg Essential Oil as a precious preservative, forming part of the embalming and mummification process.

Nutmeg Essential Oil Benefits

Nutmeg essential oil is beneficial for many physical and psychological conditions, and is anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, carminative, energizing, cleansing, and pain-relieving. Its chemical composition is comprised mainly of monoterpene hydrocarbons (roughly 80% or more), including Sabinene, Pinene, and Limonene.

Nutmeg Essential Oil for the Digestive System

We all suffer from digestive problems from time to time, such as constipation, diarrhoea, nausea and other such stuff. Nutmeg Essential Oil is very calming and balancing to the digestive system, so grate some fresh onto your dinner, rice pudding or into hot milk. You can also make the following recipe for a bath foam.

Nutmeg Spice Bath Foam

98ml bath foam base
1ml Sweet Orange Essential Oil
0.5ml Nutmeg Essential Oil
0.5ml Black Pepper Essential Oil

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl and stir well before transferring to a 100ml bottle with a pump top. Use daily.

Christmas Overindulgence Tummy Lotion

We all eat too much at Christmas time and can feel uncomfortable so here is a recipe for a body lotion to help ease the stress on the ribcage!

98ml White Lotion Base
1ml Ginger Essential Oil
0.5ml Nutmeg Essential Oil
0.5ml Marjoram Sweet Essential Oil

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl and stir well before transferring to a 100ml bottle with a pump top. Apply 2 hours before Christmas Lunch, immediately afterwards and also before going to bed.

Nutmeg Essential Oil to Uplift the Nervous System

As far back as the 17th century, Nutmeg has been used as a folk medicine to treat depression. Interestingly, Nutmeg Essential Oil is both a sedative and a stimulant, so this special spice can both soothe worry while perking up focus and the more positive aspects of our neurological function.

Nutmeg is wonderful to revive our spirits, and at what better time than Christmas! Follow the recipe below to fill your home with uplifting yet relaxing aromas of a Nutmeg Christmas.

Nutmeg Christmas Vaporiser Blend

2ml Nutmeg Essential Oil
2ml Cinnamon Essential Oil
2ml Pine Essential Oil
4ml Sweet Orange Essential Oil

Use 4-8 drops in the vaporiser during the Christmas Season.

Nutmeg Essential Oil for other Conditions

Used in aromatherapy, the warming scent of Nutmeg oil can 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 Sweet. To strengthen concentration and levels of alertness, diffuse 2-3 drops of Nutmeg along with 4-5 drops of Grapefruit.

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. 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.

Nutmeg Massage Oil

90ml Sunflower Oil
7ml Rosehip Oil
1ml Lavender French Essential Oil
1ml Rosemary Essential Oil
0.5ml Nutmeg Essential Oil
0.5ml Lemon Essential Oil

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl and stir well before transferring to a 100ml bottle with a pump top. Apply during massage.

Contraindications for Nutmeg Essential Oil

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.

Pregnant and nursing women should avoid using Nutmeg essential oil and for children, it is not recommended for those under 12 years of age.
Nutmeg Essential Oil must always be diluted appropriately with a carrier oil.
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.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog. We love to hear from you so do give us feedback on the blog and the recipes, and how they have worked for you or your clients. All the products mentioned are available from our website or you can phone your order through or get advice on 01455 251020. If you are interested in training with us, please call, or email Lizzie on courses@penny-price.com.

I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas and a prosperous and joyful New Year 2023 x

Penny Price
Penny Price

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