Is Nutmeg Powder Good for You?

Nutmeg powder has a number of health benefits. Not only is nutmeg a common spice made from the kernel of an exotic fruit, but it also has antibacterial properties and contains ingredients that can help improve memory, benefit the heart, relax muscles and aid with digestion. However, nutmeg powder in excessive doses may cause an acute psychiatric disorders and hallucinations.

Nutmeg powder on spoon (Image: eyewave/iStock/Getty Images)

Identification

The myristica fragrans tree, native to the various Spice Islands, including Indonesia, Grenada, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad, contains nutmeg. The seed of the apricot-like fruit, nutmeg became a popular spice in Europe during the Crusades when Middle Eastern cooking became more common. Nutmeg powder is made from the dried seed of the nutmeg tree. Nutmeg is a common addition to Indian and Middle Eastern dishes such as curry, potatoes and some soups.

Antibacterial Properties

Nutmeg powder has strong antibacterial properties, according to research published in the "Journal of Medicinal Food" in 2006. Researchers found that all of the constituents isolated from nutmeg powder have antibacterial properties. Nutmeg contains a type of oil known as myristic acid, which has shown inhibitory effects on all types of bacteria, according to research published in 2006 in the journal "Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters."

Anticonvulsant Properties

The volatile oil of nutmeg may also help to prevent or treat seizures. In a 2009 research study published in "Phytotherapy Research," researchers induced seizures in animals. They found that nutmeg oil worked quickly to prevent seizures, but the effect wore off rapidly. The oil in nutmeg works at many different doses and did not impair motor skills, even at high doses. The research suggests that nutmeg oil, which has the same properties as nutmeg powder, could be effective in treating grand mal and partial seizures.

Antidiarrheal Properties

In traditional folk medicine, nutmeg powder has been used to reduce flatulence, aid in digestion and improve appetite. It also helps to treat diarrhea, according to research published in 2002 in the journal "Methods and Findings in Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology." Researchers found that nutmeg powder decreased the number of loose stools, while also increasing intestinal tone and producing an analgesic effect.

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