Is Nutmeg Safe During Pregnancy
Is Nutmeg Safe During Pregnancy – Like other popular spices, nutmeg is one of those delicious spices that never loses its place in the kitchen. Its aroma and taste and the brownish twists it adds to the food are simply extraordinary. But apart from being a food spice, you may be interested to know that nutmeg is considered effective in fighting many diseases and ailments.
Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree belonging to the genus Myristica. It is botanically known as Myristica fragrans Houtt. And it is a popular spice used mainly for culinary and medicinal purposes.
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Distinguished by its rough egg shape, this seed is believed to have originated in Indonesia. Nutmeg seeds are dark brown in color and mostly covered with a dark red pulp (arilus). Nutmeg seeds are 18 to 30 mm long and 15 to 19 mm wide. Nutmeg plants are dioecious in nature so they can only be propagated sexually or asexually.
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Studies show that 100 grams of nutmeg contains about 2% vitamin A, 5% vitamin C, 10% vitamin B-6, 84% dietary fiber, 45% magnesium, 18% calcium and 16% iron.
This aromatic food spice is used for cooking and flavoring, especially in powdered or ground form. It is used to prepare a variety of foods such as stews, soups, conroe, meat stock, soto, pastries, fries, fish, garam masala, curry, potatoes, meatloaf, beans, chutneys, rice, beans. , meat, dumplings (tortellini) can be done. and shrimp etc. Nutmeg is also used to make iced nutmeg juice, syrups, jams, squash, sweets, candies, chutneys, beverages, sweets and pickles.
Studies show that nutmeg can be used to make commercial products such as essential oil, oleoresin and nutmeg butter. Nutmeg seeds contain about 16% oil, which is mostly produced by hydrodistillation, water distillation, steam distillation or solvent extraction.
Nutmeg oil is clear, pale green or yellow in color and is recognized for its strong aroma. It is highly sensitive to temperature and light, soluble in water and soluble in alcohol. Nutmeg also contains a fatty oil, called nutmeg butter or oleoresin. Oleoresin contains significant amounts of trimyrystic acid.
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The volatile fraction of nutmeg oil includes safrole, d-camphine, l-terpenol, myristicin, d-pene, limonene, geraniol and d-bornol. Myristicin is considered a toxin in its pure form, and excessive consumption of nutmeg can lead to myristicin poisoning. Nutmeg butter is reddish brown in color with a semi-solid texture. Nutmeg butter contains trimyrstane, which can be converted to myristic acid, a 14-carbon fatty acid.
Nutmeg is aphrodisiac, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidizing, hepatoprotective, antifungal, hemostatic, carminative, antiseptic, astringent, antispasmodic, anthelmintic, parasitic and insecticidal. Nutmeg seeds are effective in treating tuberculosis, fever, cough, cold, paralysis, skin diseases (eczema, acne, eczema), gastrointestinal diseases (vomiting and diarrhoea). Both nutmeg and nutmeg oil can be used to treat nervous and digestive disorders. Nutmeg’s superior medicinal properties are due to its high volatile oil content.
Tajuddin et al., (2005) investigated the aphrodisiac effect of 50% ethanolic extract of nutmeg. This study was conducted using various animal models to determine the potential adverse effects and acute toxicity of nutmeg. Nutmeg extract suspension (100, 250 and 500 mg/kg, p.o.) was administered to different groups of male rats daily for 7 days.
Experimental female rats were prepared for mating by hormone treatment. Overall mating behavior, including potency and libido, was assessed and compared using the standard reference drug sildenafil citrate. It was found that oral administration of nutmeg extract at a dose of 500 mg/kg produced a significant effect on sexual behavior in male rats.
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Nutmeg extract significantly increased mating frequency, prolonged mating, penile stimulation, intromission latency, erection, fast mating and intromission frequency. Additionally, increased latency and significant reduction in post-ejaculatory interval were observed.
Interestingly, this extract was found to have no adverse effects and no acute toxicity in the animals studied. These positive results of increased sexual behavior in the animals studied without any noticeable side effects indicate that the 50% ethanol extract of nutmeg has aphrodisiac properties. The ability of this extract to increase sexual energy and libido is due to its neurostimulant properties. Therefore, the aforementioned researchers have recommended the use of nutmeg for the treatment of male sexual problems.
Hayfaa et al., (2013) investigated the analgesic effects of nutmeg seed alkaloids in a mouse model of acetic acid-induced neuralgia. They extracted alkaloids from nutmeg seed kernels in 95% ethyl alcohol with 10% acetic acid. Neuropathic pain was induced in male and female BALB/c mice using intraperitoneal injection of 0.6% acetic acid.
The analgesic effect of alkaloids (0.5 g or 1 g per kilogram [g/kg], given orally) was tested by assessing the Roth response. Acute toxicity was tested in response to 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 g/kg alkaloid extract while the median lethal dose (LD50) was confirmed by probit analysis.
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The results showed that the alkaloid extract at a dose of 1 g/kg significantly reduced the number of acute reactions in female, but not in male rats.
However, 0.5 g/kg alkaloid extract showed no effect in either sex. When experimental animals were given doses of 4 g/kg or higher, researchers observed signs of dizziness, hypoactivity, abnormal behavior and restlessness. Even after administration of the alkaloids, the abnormal behavior persisted for several hours. Therefore, research supports that nutmeg seed alkaloids are analgesic in nature but are somewhat toxic.
Bamidele (2011) investigated the effects of ethanolic extract of nutmeg on some hematological indices using albino rats as a model. They used 24 Wistar strain albino rats weighing 140 to 160 grams and randomly divided them into four (4) groups of six (6) animals each. Group I consisted of rats orally administered 10 ml/kg of normal saline.
This group was used as control while 50% ethanolic seed extract of nutmeg was administered to animals of group II, III and IV at doses of 100, 250 and 500 mg/kg respectively. The results showed a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in red blood cell (RBC) count, packed cell volume (PCV), hemoglobin concentration (HBC) and platelet count, especially in higher doses.
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Also, total white blood cell (WBC) count increased significantly (p < 0.05). Based on research findings, it has been confirmed that nutmeg seeds have anti-inflammatory properties especially when given in high doses.
Tan et al., (2013) evaluated and compared the antioxidant properties of nutmeg seeds, pulp, skin and nutmeg. They extracted the freeze-dried samples using 80% methanol, while the Folin-Cioculteau assay was applied to determine the total phenolic content. Antioxidant properties were assessed using ferric reducing antioxidant power and trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) assays.
Additionally, the aluminum chloride assay was used to determine the total flavonoid content and ascorbic acid using a titrimetric method. The results showed that nutmeg, especially the seeds, are rich in antioxidants.
Morita et al., (2003) evaluated the hepatoprotective properties of 21 different spices including nutmeg. The results showed that nutmeg exhibited the strongest hepatoprotective effect. Biodirected isolation of active compounds from nutmeg was carried out using single oral administration of the respective fractions in rats. These researchers found that myristicin, one of the essential oils of nutmeg, has significant hepatoprotective effects.
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Periodontitis is inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, which usually causes the gums to recede and the teeth to loosen. Alteration of pathogenic microorganisms in the oral microflora is the main cause of periodontitis. Jangid et al., (2014) studied the effect of nutmeg in the treatment of periodontitis. The results showed that using the right amount of nutmeg can be effective in treating periodontitis.
Duarte et al., (2011) evaluated the antifungal effect of nutmeg essential oil on the fungus Guinardia citricarpa. High concentrations of nutmeg essential oil are considered a suitable alternative to insecticides used in the control of Guignardia citricarpa fungi.
Nutmeg essential oil can be used for industrial purposes in the manufacture of body creams, toothpastes, soaps, syrups and washing detergents.
1) Despite the immense benefits of nutmeg, care should be taken while consuming it. Due to its high myristicin content, only small amounts of nutmeg are recommended. Myristicin can be harmful to health especially when taken in high doses.
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2) Nutmeg is considered an abortifacient thus can cause miscarriage. Interestingly, it is considered to be non-toxic and safe for both the mother and the newborn when used only for hygienic purposes during pregnancy. However, pregnant women are advised to consume only small amounts of nutmeg as it can inhibit the production of prostaglandins.
Disclaimer This post is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Always be sure to consult your healthcare provider before making any health decisions or for advice, guidance and treatment related to a specific medical condition.
1] Abdul Rasheed, K. M., Janardana, C. (2009) Chemical composition of nutmeg and mace (Myristica sugandhi Haut.) from Telcherry and Kannur regions of Kerala. Journal of Spices Arum. the crop
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