Nutmeg, referred to as Myristica fragrans in Latin, is an undersized evergreen tree that normally grows up to a height of anything between 5 meters and 13 meters (16 feet and 43 feet). However, some trees of this species are seen to be reaching a height of about 20 meters (66 feet). The dark green leaves of nutmeg appear alternately on the branches. Myristica fragrans is a dioecious species, which means that any particular tree will bear only "male" (staminate) flowers or "female" (carpellate) flowers. However, there are exceptions to this and some plants are found to be bearing both types of flowers at the same time. The pale yellow blooms of Myristica fragrans are bell-shaped - they are rather fleshy and waxy.
Nutmeg has a warm, sweet and spicy aroma something akin to that of the spice that is widely used for culinary purposes. This herb possesses soothing and comforting properties that help in perking up one's energy. At the same time, it supports the endocrine and nervous systems, in addition to sustaining the prostaglandin balance.
The essential oil of nutmeg is obtained by a process known as steam distillation. The dried kernels of mature nutmeg seeds are steam-distilled to extract this oil. Nutmeg has its origin in Moluccas Island, which is also referred to as the Spice Islands. However, currently, this tree is cultivated in several places including Sri Lanka, Penang (Malaysia) and Java (Indonesia). In addition to producing nutmeg, this evergreen tree (Myristica fragrans) also produces another spice called mace.
Various civilizations have been traditionally using nutmeg essential oil since long. In India, people used this oil therapeutically to treat problems related to the intestinal tract. On the other hand, ancient Egyptians employed this essential oil for embalming their dead. In Queen Elizabethan's England, people believed that nutmeg essential oil was effectual against plague. As a result, this oil became very popular, but it was very expensive.
The essential oil of nutmeg was also used extensively in Ayurveda, especially for treating headaches, respiratory problems, digestive disorders and fever. In present times, nutmeg oil is used in the manufactures of soaps, dental products, candles and products meant for personal care.
Nutmeg essential oil possesses a number of therapeutic properties and, hence, it has various applications. For instance, this essential oil possesses sedative property and is extremely effective for treating muscular as well as joint pains. In addition, the essential oil of nutmeg possesses anti-inflammatory property and, hence, using this oil to massage the affected areas helps to alleviate the symptoms related to arthritis, lumbago and rheumatism. This oil forms an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine, especially for treating inflammation and abdominal pain. Use of nutmeg oil helps to lessen swelling and inflammation of the joints. It has been found that excessive physical exertion often results in body aches, especially muscle pains. Use of nutmeg oil in such conditions helps to alleviate the pain.
The essential oil extracted from the kernel of nutmeg fruits is also beneficial for women. Many women suffer from irregular menstruation and menstrual cramps during their periods. Such women will find the use of nutmeg essential oil extremely useful, as it helps to diminish the symptoms related to menstrual periods, such as depression, mood swings as well as hormone imbalances.
Nutmeg oil is also helpful for our digestive system, as it not only facilitates the digestive process, but also helps to provide relief from stomach aches and expels gas formed in the stomach as well as the intestines. Hence, using nutmeg essential oil helps to improve digestion, and treat vomiting, flatulence and diarrhea. Internal use of nutmeg oil helps to improve appetite. However, you ought to be very careful while using this oil internally. When taken orally, nutmeg oil should always be taken in very small doses.
At the same time, nutmeg oil possesses tonic properties as it is an excellent stimulant. This oil not only stimulates the mind, but invigorates the remaining parts of the body as well. The soothing aroma of this essential oil helps the body to relax, and promote blood circulation. Hence, people suffering from poor blood circulation will find this oil to be highly beneficial.
As nutmeg essential oil also possesses antibacterial and antiseptic properties, it is widely used in several cosmetic products, especially those that are used for oily, dull or wrinkled skin. In addition, this oil is also used in after-shave creams and lotions.
Apart from the various applications of nutmeg essential oil discussed above, this oil is a vital ingredient in several cough syrups as well as cold rubs, since it aids in providing relief from congestion of the respiratory system as well as in alleviating the symptoms associated with cold. Nutmeg oil is considered to be useful for treating asthma.
Since nutmeg essential oil works to stimulate the brain, it helps to get rid of stress and mental exhaustion. Use of nutmeg oil is also thought to be effective in improving the quality of ones dreams, making them further intense as well as vivid. In addition, this oil is an excellent remedy for depression and anxiety. Often, homeopaths also recommend the use of nutmeg essential oil. In ancient times, despite its high price and being scarcely available, nutmeg oil was very popular among the Greeks and Romans, who used it in the form of an effective stimulant for the brain. It has been established that use of nutmeg oil helps to improve concentration and, at the same time, promotes one's overall competence in study as well as work.
Nutmeg essential oil has several other therapeutic properties. It helps to invigorate the cardiovascular system and, hence, is considered to be an excellent tonic for the health of your heart.
The oil extracted from nutmeg seeds has a woody aroma, which aids in getting rid of foul breath. Moreover, the antiseptic nature of this oil makes it useful for treating toothaches as well as aching gums. Owing to this aptitude of nutmeg oil, it is added to several types of toothpastes and mouthwashes.
One important therapeutic property of nutmeg essential oil is its ability to treat various liver diseases. This essential oil possesses the aptitude to eliminate toxins and waste substances from the liver, making it an excellent detoxifying agent as well as a wonderful tonic for the liver.
Often medical practitioners recommend the use of nutmeg essential oil for treating kidney diseases and kidney infections. At the same time, this oil is helpful in melting kidney stones and removing uric acid accumulations from different parts of the body. Therefore, nutmeg oil is highly beneficial for people suffering from joint inflammation caused by gout, arthritis and rheumatism.
The sedative and soothing properties of nutmeg essential oil help it to alleviate stress, and help in enhancing the quality of sleep, thereby making one's dreams further intense as well as colourful.
Nutmeg essential oil is an excellent stimulant and, hence, it works to get rid of mental and physical fatigues and, at the same time, effectively treat the symptoms associated with anxiety. In addition, use of this oil improves concentration and effectiveness.
Nutmeg essential oil ought to be used very cautiously, as it can be somewhat toxic, particularly when it is taken in elevated doses orally. Moreover, women should essentially keep away from using this oil during pregnancy.