A Brief Overview On Nutmeg Essential Oil
Myristica fragrans is a tropical dark leaved evergreen tree which was native to Indonesia (now grown and known all across the tropical world). Nutmeg (javitri in English) is the seed of this tree and a renowned spice (its popularity is not limited to the tropical world). Nutmeg is found and sold in its whole seed form in rural areas, but it is bought in its powdered spice form in urban regions because of its ease of use. Nutmeg has (no guesses) a nutty flavour and fragrance; and although there is the word nut in nutmeg, it is not a nut. It is used in all kinds of foods and beverages. It is added to sweets, curries, cold beverages and hot tea. Some wines are also flavoured with nutmeg. Nutmeg has always been popular because of its fragrance and flavour, but with the advent of nutmeg essential oil, its health benefits have also become well known. So, what is nutmeg essential oil good for? Let’s find out the benefits of nutmeg essential oil.
Calories in Nutmeg
There are about 525 calories in 100 grams of nutmeg. But, it is said that the intake of nutmeg in a day should not be more than 2 milligrams, because there have been cases of toxicity when the consumption of nutmeg exceeded 5 grams per day.
Properties of Nutmeg essential oil
Though nutmegs are generally 20 by 15 millimetres in dimensions it is packed with antioxidant properties. What are antioxidants? In simple words, antioxidants are compounds that stop the chemical reaction called oxidation, which is responsible for the generation of free radicals (unstable molecules) and other reactions that damage or alter the cells. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage due to the free radicals or other reactions. Free radicals are always present in the body because it is a byproduct of metabolism; however, environmental factors and lifestyle habits can increase the presence of the free radicals which can result in oxidative stress. This occurs due to the inability of the cells to kill or flush out excess free radicals. Oxidative stress can break down cells and tissues and cause serious illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases and diabetes type-2. Free radicals have an unpaired electron in its outer shell. The antioxidants give one of its own electrons to the free radicals thus making it stable. Nutmeg essential oil benefits as an antioxidant because of the presence of the following compounds – caffeic acid, catechin, eugenol and meso-dihydroguaiaretic. An experiment on field rats proved that taking nutmeg slowed the cellular damage caused due to clinically induced oxidative stress. The group of rats that were deprived of nutmeg showed more cell damage than the ones who consumed the nutmeg. Several test tube studies have also been conducted on nutmeg or its compounds and it has been found to possess high antioxidant properties.
Inflammation, when left untreated, can become chronic and cause diseases including cardiovascular complications, arthritis and diabetes. Sometimes inflammation can also occur when the body is fighting against infections. Hence, nutmeg with anti-inflammatory properties is good for the body. Nutmeg can subdue the enzymes that lead to inflammation. The anti-inflammatory property is due to the underlying compounds of monoterpenes. These compounds are responsible for providing the essential oil with flavour and fragrance. Furthermore, it has antiviral and antibacterial properties useful in supporting the respiratory system. This property is the reason why monoterpenes are used in air purifiers. Besides monoterpenes, cyanidins and other phenolic compounds present in the oil, it also has anti-inflammatory properties. In an experiment conducted on two groups of rats both groups were injected with a solution that causes inflammation. Later one group was given nutmeg. After sometime this group showed lesser pain and swelling, and better mobility. However, more research on humans is required to scientifically prove the use of nutmeg’s anti-inflammatory property.
Some studies on animals have shown that nutmeg can boost libido. Lab rats with good health were given a high quantity of nutmeg. Since, these rats were of optimal health, the nutmeg increased their sexual activity by a huge margin. In the same experiment, a group of older mice were given nutmeg and it was witnessed that their sexual activity started increasing. Although more research is needed to substantiate the exact cause of nutmeg being an aphrodisiac, experts say that it is because of the soothing effect it has on the nervous system. However, nutmeg was used in ancient times and in traditional medicines to treat sexual disorders.
Nutmeg has powerful antibacterial properties that can be used to treat bacterial infections affecting the cavities in the tooth, the ones that cause gum diseases and other periodontal infections. The bacteria that live in the lower intestine, E. coli (Escherichia coli), are usually harmless, but its strains including the O157 can cause stomach disorders such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Nutmeg is known to reduce the symptoms, and in case of mild symptoms, treat the illness caused by E. coli. Again, more human trials are needed to prove the antibacterial properties of nutmeg and its essential oil and thereby its efficacy in treating bacterial infections.
These were the properties of nutmeg essential oil that proves to be beneficial for health and wellbeing. There are many other uses of nutmeg essential oils, some are listed below.
Nutmeg essential oil for skin
Yes, nutmeg is good for the skin. Nutmeg oil is used in balancing the secretion of oils from the skin by tightening the pores. It has been used in exfoliating for a long time. And because of its anti-inflammatory property it can be rubbed on the part of the skin that has swelling or redness. It is considered the best essential oil for those with oily and sensitive skin type.
Nutmeg essential oil controls blood sugar
An experiment on rats found that nutmeg consumption can increase pancreatic activity which releases insulin and keeps blood sugar in control. It has to be reiterated that more research on humans is needed to conclusively prove its effect on, well, humans.