Myristica fragrans

scientific name: 
Myristica fragrans Houtt.
Botanical family: 

Botanical description

Tree dioecious 6-18 m high with a dense crown and aromatic wood.  Leaves simple, alternate, oblong-elliptic, acutely acuminate, pinnately veined, dark green shiny above, paler beneath, 5-15 cm x 2-7 cm; male inflorescences usually 1-10 flowered cyme, fragrant, pale yellow, female inflorescences a 1-3 flowered cyme, but usually 1-flowered, pale yellow; fruit a fleshy, smooth, yellow, sub-globose, drupe, 3-6 cm long with a circumferential, longitudinal ridge; seed brown, ovoid 1.5-4.5cm long covered with a lacinate, red aril.





juma (vertigo and weakness):

  nutmeg, powdered, orally3


  nutmeg, powdered, rubbed on skin2


  nutmeg, grated, cataplasm1

The nut of Myristica fragrans is widely used for human consumption.

TRAMIL Research25

For headache and pneumopathy:

Grate seed (nutmeg powder) and apply 3-5 grams locally on forehead and 10-15 grams on chest and back.

For juma (vertigo and weakness):

There is no available information establishing a means of preparation and dosage other than that referred to by traditional use.

Any medicinal preparation must be preserved cold and used within the 24 hours.

According to published and other information:

Use for headache and pneumonia is classified as REC, based on the significant traditional use (OMS/WHO)4 documented in the TRAMIL surveys.

Should there be a notable worsening of the patient’s condition, or should headache last more than 3 days or pneumonia more than 5 days, seek medical attention.

Not for use during pregnancy, during lactation or by children under 3 years old.

There is no available information in scientific literature to validate the effects attributed to nutmeg powder for juma (vertigo and weakness).

For adults, do not take more than 500 mg of nutmeg powder per day.

TRAMILResearch26 (will be translated in 3rd Ed.)

El polvo del fruto, vía tópica (0.5 g de polvo de la nuez en área de 5 cm2)en el modelo de irritación dérmica en piel sana de 3 conejosNew Zealandpor 5 días consecutivos. Se obtuvo un índice de irritación primaria de 0.05 durante el periodo de 11 días de observación, considerando el producto como no irritante

The LD50 in rat of essential oil by oral administration was 2.6 g/kg18.

The essential oil had an LD50 = 4.62 g/kg in mice and an LD50 = 6 g/kg in hamster19.

The ingestion of an entire nut (7.5 y 15 g/person) by a human adult caused general toxic effects: abdominal pain, vomiting, increase of urine pH, increase of leukocyte count, tachycardia, hypertension, hallucinations, lethargy, restlessness and insomnia20.

The ingestion of an entire nut caused, in a pregnant woman, a clinical condition characterized by headache, stomach pain, respiratory difficulty and fever, with recovery after two days21.  In another individual, it was reported as causing face reddening and inflammation, distal cyanosis, vomiting, delirium, feeling of imminent death, fear and euphoria, with recovery after 5 days22.

The seed applied topically did not show allergenic activity in human23.

The nut of Myristica fragans has been classified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as "GRAS" (Generally Regarded as Safe)24.

There is no available information documenting the safety of medicinal use in children or in pregnant or lactating women.

The nut contains a large amount of essential oil, whose main constituents are: pinene, borneol, geraniol and eugenol, menthol derivatives, myrcene, nerol, ß-phellandrene, piperitol, propanol, sabinene, safrole, α-styrene, terpinol, terpinene, terpineol, terpinolene, thujene, trimyristin, vanillin, bergamotene, bisabolene, cadinene, camphene, caryophyllene, 1.8-cyneol, citronellol, copaene, cubebene, para-cymene, elemicin, α-farnesene, α-fenchol, germacrene, humulene, limonene, linalool, malabaricone, myristicin; among other mono and sesquiterpenes, phenylpropanoids, benzenoids, alakans and lignans5-10.  It also contains a shikimic acid derivative11.

Proximate analysis of 100 g of nut18: calories: 525; water: 6.2%; proteins: 5.8%; fat: 36.3%; carbohydrates: 49.3%; fiber: 4%; ash: 2.3%; calcium: 184 mg; phosphorus: 213 mg; iron: 3 mg; sodium: 16 mg; potassium: 350 mg; carotene: 61 µg; thiamine: 0.35 mg; riboflavin: 0.06 mg; niacin: 1.30 mg.

The ether extract from the aril (very thin vegetal layer covering the nut) (0.1%) in vitro demonstrated antioxidant activity13.

The methanolic extract from the dried aril, orally administered to mice (1 g/kg), caused analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects14.

The hot aqueous extract (decoction) from the dried nut (1 µg/mL) in the in vitro test of isolated guinea pig smooth muscle caused relaxant activity15.

The essential oil applied externally in a fish test caused depression of the central nervous system16; in an experimental guinea pig test, it induced antitussive activity17.




1 JEAN-PIERRE L, 1988 TRAMIL survey. St. Lucia national herbarium, Castries, St Lucia.

2 CHARLES C, 1988 TRAMIL survey. Movement for Cultural Awareness MCA, Roseau, Dominica.

3 GERMOSEN-ROBINEAU L, GERONIMO M, AMPARO C, 1984 Encuesta TRAMIL. enda-caribe, Santo Domingo, Rep. Dominicana.

4 WHO, 1991 Guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines. WHO/TRM/91.4. Programme on Traditional Medicines, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.

5 NUÑEZ MELENDEZ E, 1964 Plantas medicinales de Puerto Rico. Río Piedras, Puerto Rico: Univ. of Puerto Rico - Est. Exper. Agricola, 245.

6 SCHENK H, LAMPARSKY D, 1981 Analysis of nutmeg oil using chromatographic methods. J Chromatogr204(1):391-395.

7 JANSSEN AM, CHIN NLJ, SCHEFFER JJC, BAERHEIM-SVENDSEN A, 1980 Screening for antimicrobial activity of some essential oils by the agar overlay technique. PharmWeekbl (Sci Ed) 8(6):289-292.

8 SUSUKI H, HARADA M, 1990 Identification of nutmeg by thin-layer chromatography and its introduction to Japanese standards for nonpharmacopoeial crude drugs. Eisei Shikensho Hokoku 108:98-100.

9 ORABI KY, MOSSA JS, EL-FERALY FS, 1991 Isolation and characterization of two antimicrobial agents from mace (Myristica fragans). J Nat Prod 54(3):856-859.

10 MATSUMOTO A, MATSUMOTO T, TOKUDA H, 1991 Lignans from mace as neoplasm inhibitors. Patent Japan Kokai Tokkio Koho, 03,287, 527.

11 HOSTETTMANN K, LEA P (Eds.), 1987 Biologically Active Natural Products. Oxford, England: Oxford Science Publications.

12 DUKE JA, ATCHLEY AA, 1986 Handbook of proximate analysis tables of higher plants.Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

13 SAITO Y, KIMURA Y, SAKAMOTO T, 1976 The antioxidant effects of petroleum ether soluble and insoluble fractions from spices. Eiyo to shokuryo vryo29:505-510.

14 OZAKI Y, SOEDIGDO S, WATTIMENA YR, SUGANDA AG, 1989 Antiinflammatory effect of mace, aril ofMyristica fragans Houtt and its active principles. Jpn J Pharmacol 49(2):155-163.

15 ICHIKAWA K, KINOSHITA T, SANKAWA U, 1989 The screening of Chinese crude drugs for Ca2+ antagonist activity: identification of active principles from the aerial part of Pogostemon cablin and the fruits of Prunus mume. Chem Pharm Bull 37(2):345-348.

16 WESLEY-HADZIJA B, BOHING P, 1956 Influence of some essential oils on the central nervous system of fish. Ann Pharm Fr14:283-289.

17 MORII L, 1987 Topical antitussive, expectorant, analgesic and sedative agents. Patent-Japan Kokai Tokkyo Koho 62(59):219.

18 CARR CJ, 1973 Evaluation of the health aspects of nutmeg, mace and their essential oils as food ingredients. US NTIS PB REP PB-266-878:1-17.

19 DUKE J, 1985 Handbook of medicinal herbs. Boca Raton, USA: CRC Press.

20 TRUITT EB, CALLAWAY E, BRAUDE MC, KRANTZ JC, 1961 The pharmacology of myristicin. A contribution to the psychopharmacology of nutmeg. J Neuropsychiatry 2(4):205-210.

21 BARTLETT B, 1911 Nutmeg poisoning. Brit Med J 2:269.

22 JOHNSON J, 1906 Nutmeg poisoning. Brit Med J 2:984.

23 STAGER J, WUTHRICH B, JOHANSSON SG, 1991 Spice allergy in celery-sensitive patients. Allergy 46(6):475-478.

24 CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, 2002 Food and drugs. Chapter I - Food and drug administration, department of health and human services. Part 182 - Substances generally recognized as safe. Sec. 182.10. Spices and other natural seasonings and flavorings. U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access, USA. 21(3):451-452. Feb. 24, 2003, URL:

25 CARBALLO A, 1995 Cálculo de concentración y dosis de las drogas vegetales TRAMIL: Mensuraciones farmacognósticas y aproximaciones técnico-clínicas. Laboratorio provincial de producción de medicamentos, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba.


Irritación dérmica, dosis repetida en piel sana de conejos, del polvo del fruto de Myristica fragans. Informe TRAMIL. Laboratorio de Ensayos Biológicos, LEBi, Universidad de Costa Rica, San Pedro, Costa Rica.



The information provided is for educational purposes only for the benefit of the general public and health professionals. It is not intended to take the place of either the written law or regulations. Since some parts of plants could be toxic, might induce side effects, or might have interactions with certain drugs, anyone intending to use them or their products must first consult with a physician or another qualified health care professional. TRAMIL has no responsibility whatsoever towards the user for any decision, action or omission made in relation to the information contained in this Pharmacopoeia.