Nutmeg Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings

  • Taking too much nutmeg can cause hallucinations.

    – Hallucinations after voluntary ingestion of nutmeg: an unrecognized drug abuse — Servan J, et al. — Rev Neurol (Paris). 1998 Oct;154(10):708.

  • An overdose of nutmeg can be fatal.
    – Forensic Sci Int 2001 Apr 15;118(1):87-90 — Nutmeg (myristicin) poisoning–report on a fatal case and a series of cases recorded by a poison information centre. — Stein U, Greyer H, Hentschel H.

  • High dosage can cause bizarre behavior and visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations along with nausea, gagging, hot/cold sensations, and blurred vision followed by numbness, double, and “triple” vision, headache, and drowsiness.
    – J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2000;38(6):671-8 — Toxicology of nutmeg abuse. — Sangalli BC, Chiang W.

  • Nutmeg contains several compounds with structural similarities to substances with known central nervous system neuromodulatory activity.
    – J Toxicol Clin Toxicol 2000;38(6):671-8 — Toxicology of nutmeg abuse. — Sangalli BC, Chiang W.

  • A case of acute anticholinergic hyperstimulation in a pregnant woman was associated with excessive ingestion of nutmeg.
    – J Reprod Med 1987 Jan;32(1):63-4 — Nutmeg intoxication in pregnancy. A case report. — Lavy G.

  • Seeds of nutmeg are used as spice, but they are also abused because of psychotropic effects described after ingestion of large doses.

    Ther Drug Monit. 2006 Aug;28(4):568-75. — Abuse of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.): studies on the metabolism and the toxicologic detection of its ingredients elemicin, myristicin, and safrole in rat and human urine using gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. — Beyer J, Ehlers D, Maurer HH.
    Department of Experimental and Clinical Toxicology, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Saarland, Homburg (Saar), Germany.

  • Nutmeg poisoning is rare but probably underreported and should be considered in recreational substance users with acute psychotic symptoms as well as central nervous system neuromodulatory signs that may mimic in part an anticholinergic hyperstimulation.

    – Low cost, high risk: accidental nutmeg intoxication. — Demetriades AK, Wallman PD, McGuiness A, Gavalas MC. — Emerg Med J. 2005 Mar;22(3):223-5.

  • Myristic acid is used in the food industry as a flavor ingredient. It is found widely distributed in fats throughout the plant and animal kingdom, including common human foodstuffs, such as nutmeg. Myristic acid has been shown to have a low order of acute oral toxicity in rodents. It may be irritating in pure form to skin and eyes under exaggerated exposure conditions, but is not known or predicted to induce sensitization responses. The data and information that are available indicate that at the current level of intake, food flavoring use of myristic acid does not pose a health risk to humans.
    – Safety assessment of myristic acid as a food ingredient. — Burdock GA, Carabin IG. — Food Chem Toxicol. 2007 Apr;45(4):517-29. Epub 2006 Oct 24.

last update: March 2014

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