Nutmeg? It’s for sprinkling over eggnog during the holidays, right? Yes, and so very much more!
The health benefits of nutmeg are amazing! Spending time in Grenada – The Spice Island of the Caribbean – I’m learning just how valuable this little seed can be for our overall health. When you step off the plane in Grenada, you’re enveloped in the balmy scents of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon hanging heavy in the air. Take a deep breath to savor the aromas, treat your taste buds to a special delight, AND do your body a world of good!
Growing in a yellowish pod, nutmeg is the seed and mace is the “lacy” reddish shell found on the seed. Here on the island of Grenada, the pod is used to make nutmeg butters, jams and jellies. Mace is dried as a separate spice – a bit milder tasting than nutmeg. Inside the shell is the jewel – the nutmeg seed! Called a warming spice, nutmeg imparts a mild flavor to foods.
Myristica fragrans is the active ingredient responsible for all the nutmeg spice health benefits. The nutmeg tree is the only tree in the world which is the source of two distinct spices – nutmeg and mace. This valuable commodity makes Grenada one of the world’s largest producers and distributors in the world.
Nutmeg Health Benefits
Pain Relief. Nutmeg contains a compound similar to menthol that acts as a counterirritant when placed directly on sore, aching muscles. For areas of chronic inflammation, applying nutmeg oil on the area can bring fast pain relief.
Acne. The powerful antibacterial and exfoliant properties of nutmeg help this spice quickly clear up acne breakouts. Simply mix a teaspoonful of freshly ground nutmeg with 1 teaspoonful of water, honey, or milk to make a paste and rub directly on the face. Leave for 5-10 minutes, then rinse off.
Anti-tumor Activity. This one really got my attention because of a recent study done in the Archives of Pharmacal Research on nutmeg health benefits. In this study, scientists identified a substance from nutmeg called meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid (DHGA) which showed significant anti-tumor properties, suggesting that nutmeg may offer additional anti-cancer benefits. This study is preliminary, but the findings suggest nutmeg warrants additional research into it’s potential against cancer.
Neurological Protection. A compound in nutmeg mace, called macelignan – part of the active ingredient Myristica fragrans – has been found to have neuroprotective activities. These compounds have been proven to reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function. Recent studies highlight the importance of nutmeg health in understanding and treating complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Kidney Stones. Natural health practitioners recommend nutmeg to help soften and dissolve kidney stones. For anyone who suffers from chronic kidney stones, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add an extra pinch of nutmeg to your coffee or tea every morning. The anti-bacterial activity of nutmeg is also a benefit when kidney stones become painful to avoid a secondary infection.
What are you waiting for? Grab a nutmeg grater, a whole nutmeg, and start shaving that delicious goodness on everything! Lattes, soups, ice cream, stews, smoothies, even scrambled eggs taste yummy with a pinch of nutmeg spice to heighten the taste sensation. The incredible nutmeg health benefits await. Enjoy!