Nutmeg is so much more than simply a flavoring for Christmas dishes and eggnog. The essential oil of this aromatic spice has a number of surprising health benefits that may just make it the next must-have for your essential oil cabinet.
Find out more about what makes nutmeg oil unique below:
What is nutmeg oil?
Nutmeg oil is derived from nutmeg seeds through the steam extraction. The seeds come from the fruit of an evergreen tree (Myristica fragrans) native to the Moluccas Islands (or Spice Islands).
Nutmeg has been used for thousands of years in traditional European, Egyptian and Indian folk remedies and food preparations. Ayurvedic medicine considers nutmeg oil to be beneficial for symptoms such as fever, breathing problems, headaches, and digestive pain.
Aside from adding spice and flavor to food, today nutmeg oil is mainly used as a scent additive for candles, soap and other personal-care products, as well as a flavoring for dental-care products.
Possible health benefits of nutmeg oil
Nutmeg oil has been studied for multiple uses, and has many time-tested traditional uses, as well. The following are 11 noteworthy examples:
Nutmeg oil may boost the detoxification function of the liver and kidneys. Some research has found that when nutmeg oil is consumed, it may help to reduce the size of kidney stones and facilitate their passing. Consuming nutmeg on a regular basis could help prevent the formation of kidney stones by encouraging the elimination of excess calcium in the body.
Compounds in nutmeg may help prevent the spread of bacteria that cause bladder and kidney infections. Most bladder infections are caused by E. coli bacteria entering the urethra. The antibacterial and antiviral properties of nutmeg may also help to combat other viruses and bacteria in the body.
The antibacterial compounds in nutmeg oil make it ideal for helping to prevent and kill the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Nutmeg oil may be useful in soothing a variety of digestive issues, as well as promoting healthy digestion overall. Just rubbing some of the oil, diluted in a carrier oil, on your tummy may provide relief from indigestion.
Nutmeg oil smells earthy with just a hint of sweetness. The scent promotes feelings of calm and relaxation, which helps to fight daily stress buildup and encourages healthy sleep.
Compounds in nutmeg oil may help kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi on contact. Nutmeg oil contains a powerful blend of compounds that can assist in combating infection inside and outside the body.
Nutmeg has properties that help fight inflammation. When rubbed into sore and aching joints, nutmeg oil may reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms of joint pain.
Those properties of nutmeg that assist in reducing inflammation in joints can also potentially provide relief to sore muscles. Nutmeg oil applied to aching muscles may help reduce pain and promote healing.
Compounds in nutmeg oil are associated with hormone regulation in both men and women. This could be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of nutmeg. Some studies have indicated that nutmeg oil can reduce the pain and bloating associated with menstruation.
In traditional medicine, nutmeg is thought to boost sexual health and desire. An animal study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2005) found that rats who were given nutmeg oil supplements increased their mating activity.
Nutmeg oil may reduce inflammation, relax muscles, facilitate the opening of nasal passages, and promote feelings of calm. These benefits combined suggest that nutmeg may be effective in reducing the symptoms of asthma. Asthma sufferers often have inflamed lungs that make breathing difficult. Relaxing the muscles and reducing overall inflammation makes it easier to breathe properly.
Ways to use nutmeg oil
- Add a drop of nutmeg oil to water or a natural mouthwash — gargle with it to reduce bad breath.
- Combine nutmeg oil with a carrier oil and massage the mixture into the skin to help relieve muscle pain, aches, and swelling.
- Add nutmeg oil to a diffuser to promote relaxation and healthy sleep.
- Use a drop of nutmeg oil in place of ground nutmeg in recipes for flavoring.
- Add five drops of nutmeg oil to a warm bath to help ease digestive problems such as constipation and nausea.
- Rub a drop of nutmeg oil on swollen gums and skin to help reduce swelling in the area.
- Add a drop of nutmeg oil to a steamer to help open nasal passages and relieve congestion.
Nutmeg oil is concentrated and may not be safe for everyone or all uses. Nutmeg oil should not be used on infants or toddlers. Check your skin for abnormal redness or sensitivity before applying to a large patch of skin. Individuals who suffer from epilepsy should not use nutmeg oil.
Excessive use of nutmeg oil could trigger hallucinations or delirium. Always talk to a health professional you trust before starting a regimen with nutmeg — especially internally — to determine how much is safe for your individual state of health.
Nutmeg is an underutilized oil that has a wide range of health benefits. If you are new to the uses of nutmeg, pick some up, do some research, and start using it today. You may be surprised at how many different ways nutmeg oil can benefit you.
Brenda is a writer, chef and health nut with many years of writing experience in the alternative health industry. She specializes in health news, healthy living, alternative treatments, and healthy recipes. She loves educating others about sustainable, healthy living. Brenda lives in Texas with her husband and two daughters.