By Ramesh NG (Flickr: Three maces of Nutmegs) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Nutmeg has antioxidant, antidiarrhoeal, stimulant, carminative, astringent, aphrodisiac and abortifacient (causing abortion) properties. It is used for treating colic, indigestion, loose motion, gas, nausea, rheumatism etc. Mace or Javitri is used for treating chronic intestinal disorders, fever, cholera and intestinal worms. It is aromatic, anthelmintic, appetizer, anti-emetic and carminative.
Nutmeg is a small evergreen tree, with alternate, oblong ovate, acute, entire, smooth dark green leaves. The leaves are 7.5-8.8 cm long, lanceolate shaped, coriaceous with shiny portion. The flowers are small and pale yellow.
Its fruits are oval, lustrous, smooth, small, scented, and brownish in color. The cover of fruit is hard, oval to ovoid, and enclose mace, the outer covering on the nutmeg seed (Jaiphal). On ripening the fruit is bifurcated and reddish covering nutmeg is exposed. The orange-yellow papery material which separates from the seed on drying is called Mace (Javitri in Hindi). Javitri and Jaiphal, both are used as Indian Spice. On cutting the kernel dark veins can be seen which are due to the presence of aromatic oils.
The name nutmeg is misleading as it is not a nut. In nuts, fruit consist of a hard or tough shell around an edible kernel.
The botanical name of Nutmeg is Myristica fragrans. It belongs to plant family Myristicaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Magnoliidae
- Order: Magnoliales
- Family: Myristicaceae – Nutmeg family
- Genus: Myristica Gronov. – nutmeg
- Species: Myristica fragrans Houtt. – nutmeg
- Myristica officinalis L. f.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Seeds and
- Plant type: Tree
- Duration: Perennial
- Nutmeg Oil: Used as stimulant. It is rubbed on the temples for headache.
Vernacular names / Synonyms
- Scientific name: Myristica fragrans
- Ayurvedic: Jaiphal, Jatiphala, Jatiphalam, Jatikosha, Jatipatri, Jatipatra, Jatishasya
- Unani: Jauzbuwaa (seed), Bisbasa (Mace / Javitri)
- Siddha/Tamil: Jaathikkai, Saadikai (nutmeg)
- Assamese: Jaiphal, Kanivish
- Bengali: Jaiphala, Jaitri
- English: Nutmeg
- Gujrati: Jaiphala, Jayfar
- Hindi: Jaiphal
- Kannada: Jadikai, Jaykai, Jaidikai
- Kashmiri: Jafal
- Malayalam: Jatika
- Marathi: Jaiphal
- Oriya: Jaiphal, Jaifal, Jaifar
- Punjabi: Jaiphal
- Tamil: Sathikkai, Jathikkai, Jatikkai, Jadhikai, Jadhikkai, Adipalam, Attigam
- Telugu: Jajikaya
- Urdu: Jauzbuwa, Jaiphal
- Arabic: Jeeyansiben
Constituents of Nutmeg
The main constituents are essential oil and fixed oil. Nutmeg contains 16 % and mace 11–15% essential oil. The essential oil is used to prepare soap and scented detergents.
Chief Phytochemicals in Nutmeg
Nutmeg contains fixed oil 24–30 per cent of fatty oils, known as Nutmeg Butter. Nutmeg butter is used in massage for arthritis, paralysis, rheumatism, sciatica, and sprains. It is also used as an external stimulant in hair lotions, ointments, and plaster.
Ayurvedic Properties and Action
Nutmeg is known as Jatiphala in Ayurveda and said to have saffron-like activity. It is pungent, bitter in taste (Ras) and light in action (Guna). Its post-digestive effect (Vipak) is pungent. It is an Ushna Virya herb. Ushna Virya or hot potency herb, subdues Vata (Wind) and Kapha (Mucus) and increases Pitta (Bile). It has property of digestion, vomiting and purging, and gives feeling of lightness. It is considered bad for fetus. It has a special effect on the nervous system and given in weakness of nerves.
Rasa (taste on tongue): Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Tikshna (Sharp)
Virya (Action): Ushna (Heating)
Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Katu (Pungent)
Nutmeg gives relief in Vata and Kapha and increases pitta. It is carminative, antiemetic and thermogenic. It is useful in indigestion, low appetite, nausea and piles.
Action on Body
Jatiphal is used in Ayurveda for Atisara, shvasa, Chardi, Kasa, Pinasa, Grahani, Mukharoga, shukrameha.
- Deepana: Promote appetite but do not aid in digesting undigested food
- Grahi: Inspissants are medicines which from their stomachic, digestive and heating qualities dry the fluids of the body
- Vrishya: Increases the quantity of semen
- Kaphahara: Pacifies Kapha Dosha
- Vatahara: Pacifies Vata Dosha
Important Ayurvedic Formulations
- Jatiphaladi Churna
- Puga Khanda
- Khadiradi vati
Important Medicinal Properties
Nutmeg is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, it has abortifacient action and causes miscarriage when taken in medicinal doses. It is heating and thermogenic which increases heat in body.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Aphrodisiac: Stimulates sexual desire.
- Abortifacient: Induces abortion.
- Allergenic: Causes allergy.
- Analgesic: Relieve pain.
- Antibacterial: Active against bacteria.
- Anticancer: Used against or tending to arrest or prevent cancer
- Anti-inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Antiseptic: Preventing the growth of disease-causing microorganisms.
- Carminative: Preventing the formation or causing the expulsion of flatulence.
- Digestive: Digestant.
- Expectorant: Promotes the secretion of sputum by the air passages, used to treat coughs.
- Emmenagogue: Stimulates or increases menstrual flow.
- Hallucinogen: Causes hallucinations
- Hypocholesterolemic: Lowers levels of cholesterol in the blood
- Narcotic: dulls the senses, relieves pain, and induces profound sleep but in excessive doses causes stupor, coma, or convulsions.
- Stimulant: Raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.
Medicinal Uses of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) and Mace
Nutmeg and mace are known as Jaiphal and Javitri respectively. Nutmeg is hot in potency and used as stimulant, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative and narcotic. It helps in rheumatism, sciatica, anorexia, colic, diarrhea, dyspepsia, dysentery, bronchial troubles, nausea, vomiting, indigestion, loose motions, delirium, insomnia, senile debility and sexual weakness.
Mace is used therapeutically for indigestion and intermittent fevers. Roasted nutmeg is used internally for leucorrhea.
Nutmeg has sedative and CNS depressant effects. It has relaxant effect on smooth muscles of the intestine.
- Nutmeg has confirmed anti-diarrhoeal activity.
- Take a pinch of powdered nutmeg with a cup of hot milk.
Mix a pinch of nutmeg powder in 1/4 teaspoon of ginger paste. Mix in one glass buttermilk and drink.
3. Loose motion, colic pain
Mix nutmeg powder (1/8 teaspoon) with gur or jaggery and 1 tsp ghee and take for curing loose motion.
4. Dehydration due to diarrhea, loose motion, cholera
Take half nutmug. Soak in one glass water for 3 hours. Mix this water with coconut water in equal amount. Drink 23 times a day.
5. Itching, fungal infection, ringworm
Rub one nutmeg on a stone with some water and make fine paste. Apply on the affected parts.
6. Stomach ache
Powdered nutmeg mixed with ghee is given once a day.
A pinch of jaifal powder is mixed in luke warm milk and consumed in the night.
Dosage of Nutmeg
- Nutmeg powder (Jatiphala) is taken in dose of 500 mg to 1 gram.
- Mace (Javitri) is taken in dose of 250 mg to 1 gram.
- Children of age group 5-16 years are given half of the adult dose.
- Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings (Nutmeg)
- It is safe in small recommended dosage.
- It is unsafe to use nutmeg in pregnancy. It must not be used in pregnancy.
- In high doses (one to three whole seeds or 5 to 15 g) it is very toxic and has narcotic effect. It can cause euphoria, a sensation of floating, flushed skin, vomiting, circulatory collapse, and visual or auditory hallucinations, within one to six hours.
- In excessive dose body shows symptoms of delirium, epileptic convulsions, giddiness, weak pulse and feeling of heaviness in chest.
- In clinical study the nutmeg oil has shown decreases fertility in rats.
- The seed extract cayuses anxiety.