Nutmeg - Myristica Fragrans –Spice
Blending Note: Middle
Main Benefits: Stimulant, Relaxing
Properties: Anti-inflammatory, Antiseptic, Bactericidal
Origin: Banda Islands, Indonesia
Other Producers: Malaysia, Caribbean, Grenada, India
Allergy Warning: Pregnant women should probably avoid nutmeg. Nutmeg in high doses can be toxic.
Nutmeg is a spice that has long been prized for its medicinal properties. In Indian Vedic writings it is recommended for headaches, fever, and bad breath. Arabian writing praises as good for curing stomach ailments and as an aphrodisiac. During the Napoleonic wars, the English finally gained control of Run Island and proceeded to plant nutmeg trees in Grenada and Zanzibar. This ensured that the British would not lose complete control of the Nutmeg trade should they ever decide to give up the island again. The expansion of nutmeg production also had the effect of making nutmeg accessible to more people at lower prices. Today, nutmeg is produced in many places including the India, Malaysia, various Caribbean islands, New Guinea, and Sri Lanka. About 10,000 tons a year is produced and mainly used in the US, Japan, Europe and India. While nutmeg is quite affordable today, this was not always the case.
In fact, throughout history nutmeg has been quite expensive. A few hundred years ago, a small bag of nutmeg would have brought enough money for the holder to be financially independent for the rest of his life! Prized in medieval times for its uses in cuisine, nutmeg was brought to Europe in the middle ages by the Arabs through the Venetians. The spice was very popular and very expensive. It was even rumoured to ward off the plague and cause self-abortions. While it might not ward off the plague, it is an abortifacient. Nutmeg is native to the Banda islands of Indonesia. When the Portuguese rounded the Cape of Good Hope in Africa in the late 1400s, they took control of the spice trade because they could transport nutmeg far more cheaply in the hold of a ship than it could be transported by caravan.
Nutmeg is actually the seed from an evergreen tree. This plant produces both nutmeg and mace. The tree is indigenous to Australasia and tropical regions of Southeast Asia. There are a couple of species of trees used to produce nutmeg, the Fragrant Nutmeg is the most common, and the Papuan Nutmeg and Bombay Nutmeg are less common. The nutmeg tree grows very tall and may reach up to seventy feet in height. Nutmeg oil is obtained from the seed of the nutmeg tree fruit. The fruit, when dried, produces nutmeg (the seed) and mace (the covering). Traditionally, nutmeg was believed to be effective against the plague and hence it was popular during the Elizabethan era. Nutmeg essential oil is extracted by steam distillation. They use the seeds for extraction. The colour of the oil is clear and the consistency is thin. The medium to strong aroma is rich, spicy, sweet and woody. Similar to the cooking spice, but richer and more fragrant.
Arthritis, Constipation, Fatigue, Muscle Aches, Nausea, Neuralgia, Poor Circulation, Rheumatism, Slow Digestion, Stress, Pain, Menstrual Cramps, Indigestion, Blood Pressure, Cough.
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