The Properties and Uses of Nutmeg Oil in Aromatherapy
Nutmeg is one of the spice oils, similar to Cinnamon essential oil: used also as a culinary spice, Nutmeg has a number of properties and use in aromatherapy.
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) has been used for centuries, particularly as a remedy for kidney and digestive problems; Nutmeg oil is obtained from an evergreen tree of the Myristicaeae plant family. The tree grows up to sixty five feet in height with small, yellow flowers and fruit, shaped like a small peach; the bark of the tree is smooth and gray-brown in color. It is native to the Molucca Islands and cultivated in the West Indies, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Nutmeg Use Through History
Ancient Indian and Chinese royalty carried ground Nutmeg in small, ivory boxes and added the substance to drinks for hallucinogenic reasons; in Malaysia, pregnant women used Nutmeg in the final weeks of their confinement in the belief it would strengthen the uterine muscle for labor. The Romans used Nutmeg to make incense.
Nutmeg was considered to be a valuable spice for trading; both the British and the French smuggled Nutmeg seeds in the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, ground Nutmeg was being used in many English recipes; it became a popular addition to Christmas eggnog in the United States.
The Extraction of Nutmeg Oil
Nutmeg oil is obtained from the kernel of the fruit and the outer layer of the fruit also produces another spice, Mace; the essential oil of Nutmeg is extracted by steam distillation of the kernel seed. Nutmeg oil is primarily made up of the chemical component of monoterpenes hydrocarbons (including camphene, dipentene, pinene, sabinene and cymene) but also includes geraniol, borneol and linalol.
Uses of Nutmeg in Aromatherapy
Nutmeg oil has a warm, spicy, sharp aroma; it has a number of properties including being analgesic, anti-septic, digestive, an aphrodisiac, stimulant, tonic and anti-oxidant. In aromatherapy, Nutmeg is used in the treatment of a number of conditions; it is used to treat arthritis, gout, rheumatism, poor circulation, indigestion, constipation, flatulence, nausea, nervous fatigue and anxiety.
Other Uses of Nutmeg Oil
Nutmeg is also used as a flavoring agent in pharmaceuticals; it is used in soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, detergents and lotions. Mace oil is also used interchangeably with Nutmeg and is found in many colognes and perfumes, particularly fragrances for men; Mace is also found in many foods and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Cautions for Using Nutmeg Oil
Nutmeg is considered to be a 'Winter' oil, due to its warming properties and can be used as an alternative to Cinnamon essential oil; however, Nutmeg is more powerful than Cinnamon and care should be taken not to use it in large quantities. High toxicity levels may be fatal if used incorrectly in some situations.