From cookies and pumpkin pies to custards and eggnog, nutmeg is a popular holiday spice in many areas of the world. The earliest recorded use of the spice comes from residue in potsherds from 3,500 years ago. Nutmeg has been used throughout the centuries in herbal medicinal practices, but it’s also been utilized as a hallucinogenic at various times with serious consequences.
Nutmeg was touted as a cure for the plague, also known as the Black Death, in 14th century Europe. Many countries fought for over 200 years during the Spice Wars in an effort to control the Spice Islands that produced the rare condiment. Today, the following are all good reasons to add nutmeg to any collection of kitchen spices.
1 The spice has natural antibacterial properties.
2. It’s a natural antioxidant that helps the body neutralize free radicals that cause signs of aging.
3. Nutmeg is said to have liver-protecting attributes.
4. The spice contains magnesium and when mixed in beverages such as milk or tea, triggers the release of serotonin that can help people fall asleep.
5. A teaspoon of nutmeg can be dissolved in a glass of water to rinse the mouth out to address bad breath – be sure to rinse and spit it out. It’s an ingredient in toothpaste and mouthwashes to freshen breath.
6. Used as a topical on skin, it reduces inflammation associated with acne. It can be mixed with honey and water to make a paste and applied to the face as a rejuvenating facial.
7. Nutmeg oil is used in over-the-counter analgesic pain relievers applied topically.
8. The spice contains a wide variety of vitamins and nutrients and is especially high in potassium, magnesium and calcium which helps in regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol levels, and aids in circulation.
9. Digestive issues can be mitigated by consuming dishes with the spice.
10. Nutmeg has been used as an aphrodisiac as it stimulates nerve cells in the brain.
11. Ayurvedic-based medicinal practices use nutmeg to address anxiety and depression.
Nutmeg should be used sparingly and with caution. Used in large quantities, it’s toxic and can cause hallucinations and seizures. The spice can also interact badly with some types of medications.
Photo: Deposit Photos