Don’t Eat Too Much Nutmeg

Don’t Eat Too Much Nutmeg
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The spice nutmeg may have a relatively narrow margin of safety.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

In my research on cinnamon, I ran across a peculiar paper, speculating that certain natural compounds of spices, such as nutmeg, may form “amphetamine-like compounds” within the body sufficient “to elevate the mood” and help provide “some added Christmas cheer” during the holiday season. This hypothetical risk was raised as far back as the 60s in the New England Journal, where it was pondered whether the age-old custom of adding nutmeg to eggnog arose from the “psychopharmacological effects described” in cases of nutmeg intoxication.

Such cases evidently go back to the 1500s, where it was used as an abortifacent, to induce a miscarriage, and in the 1960s, as a psychotropic drug. The researchers conclude that while nutmeg “is much cheaper for use and probably less dangerous” than heroin, you don’t want to take too much.

The toxic dose of nutmeg is two to three teaspoons, which I assumed no one would ever come close to, unintentionally—until I saw this report, in which a couple ate some pasta and collapsed; were hospitalized. A big mystery until the “husband revealed that he had accidentally added one-third of a jar of nutmeg to the meal whilst cooking it.” That’s like about four teaspoons. I don’t know how they could have [eaten] it. I imagine the poor wife, just trying to be polite.

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Images thanks to Frank C. Müller via Wikimedia

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

In my research on cinnamon, I ran across a peculiar paper, speculating that certain natural compounds of spices, such as nutmeg, may form “amphetamine-like compounds” within the body sufficient “to elevate the mood” and help provide “some added Christmas cheer” during the holiday season. This hypothetical risk was raised as far back as the 60s in the New England Journal, where it was pondered whether the age-old custom of adding nutmeg to eggnog arose from the “psychopharmacological effects described” in cases of nutmeg intoxication.

Such cases evidently go back to the 1500s, where it was used as an abortifacent, to induce a miscarriage, and in the 1960s, as a psychotropic drug. The researchers conclude that while nutmeg “is much cheaper for use and probably less dangerous” than heroin, you don’t want to take too much.

The toxic dose of nutmeg is two to three teaspoons, which I assumed no one would ever come close to, unintentionally—until I saw this report, in which a couple ate some pasta and collapsed; were hospitalized. A big mystery until the “husband revealed that he had accidentally added one-third of a jar of nutmeg to the meal whilst cooking it.” That’s like about four teaspoons. I don’t know how they could have [eaten] it. I imagine the poor wife, just trying to be polite.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Images thanks to Frank C. Müller via Wikimedia

Nota del Doctor

There are also potentially toxic compounds in certain types of cinnamon; see Update on Cinnamon for Blood Sugar Control.

You can also overdo other healthful plant foods if you consume too much of the yellow curry spice turmeric (see Oxalates in Cinnamon); drink too much tea (see Overdosing on Tea); eat too much soy (see How Much Soy is Too Much?); too much seaweed (see Avoiding Iodine Deficiency); too many broccoli sprouts (see How Much Broccoli is Too Much?; and even too many raw cruciferous vegetables (see Overdosing on Greens).

For my last video in this three-part series on the safety of spices, see The Safety of Tarragon.

For even more context, check out my associated blog posts: Cinnamon for Diabetes and Tarragon Toxicity?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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