The nutmeg (or nutmeg) is the endosperm of the seed of the fruit ovoid of the nutmeg tree ( Myristica fragrans ), tropical tree in the family Myristicaceae top ten to fifteen meters. The hull of the nutmeg is the integument .


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Originally, nutmeg trees were only found in Banda Islands , in the Maluku archipelago , Indonesia 1 .

In the xv th century, Europeans seek to directly reach the producing islands of spices to get them for less than that paid to the Arabs, who bought them themselves to Asian traders. The Portuguese were best placed in this quest as they already had a base in Goa , India . From there, in 1511, a fleet led by the Viceroy of the Indies, Afonso de Albuquerque , took over Malacca , then the most important port of Southeast Asia. Malacca will serve as a base for the Portuguese, who will try unsuccessfully to impose their monopoly on the production and trading of spices.

It will finally be the Dutch of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) who, after ousting the Portuguese Maluku, will succeed in imposing this monopoly.

The nutmeg was then exported to the West Indies and Grenada to be cultivated as well.


Food use

Nutmeg is used grated to accommodate meats , soups , vegetable purées and some cocktails , etc. It is part of the composition of curry and its use is very varied in the kitchen , whether salty or sweet . In French cuisine , it is used in particular to make bechamel sauce and flavor gratin Dauphinois or Quiche Lorraine .

The aril of the nutmeg, dried, called maceor nutmeg, is very popular for its color that varies from yellow to orange. From neighboring aromatic properties, nutmeg would tend to be softer than mace. The mace is a condiment constituted by the rich and fleshy extension of the envelope (aril) of the nutmeg, native to the tropical regions. It is a mesh of fibers, scarlet red when it is fresh, which is dried; it then becomes pink and is reduced to powder. Mace has a scent of cinnamon and pepper and is used mainly in cold cuts and spice blends. He raises soups and meats in sauces and replaces nutmeg in omelettes, bechamel or mashed potatoes.

Nutmeg is part of Coca-Cola 2 .

Medicinal use

Nutmeg is traditionally used against respiratory and rheumatic problems .

Psychotropic character

At the xvi th century, the slaves on merchant ships sailing towards the Europe were often punished when consumed. They used it for his character sedative to relieve their pain and fatigue 3 .

The primary effects of nutmeg come from several phenylpropenes : myristicin , safrole and elemicin . Myristicin is synthesized between two to seven hours in the body. Saffron is a substance toxic to the liver and carcinogenic at psychoactive doses.

Possible nausea during the first hour, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea in some cases. Violent side effects that last more than 24 hours appear: xerostomia (dry mouth), redness, mydriasis (dilation of pupils), anxiety , tachycardia . Death can occur at certain doses (about 20 grams)

Psychotropic effects are characterized by intoxication of the central nervous system . Intensive sedation accompanied by impaired speech and psychomotor function. Often seen as uncontrollable and unpleasant by users, as they result in a frenetic shift of psychedelic and sensory states. Usually accompanied by a long and deep sleep , similar to a comatose state (up to 16 hours). Amnesia, lethargic state, constipation or water retention possible upon waking.

It is a very unpopular drug and is not recommended because it is difficult to ingest, support and eliminate.


There are two essential oils from nutmeg: the oil from the nut, called “nutmeg”, and the oil from the envelope called “mace”.

Both are to be used with caution in children under seven years of age because of the presence of relatively large myristicin .

Nutmeg essential oil

Chemical composition of nutmeg oil 4
Rank Component  %
1 sabinene 21.38
2 4-terpineol 13.92
3 myristicine 13.57
4 α-pinene 10.23
5 limonene 5.57
6 safrole 4.28
7 γ- terpinene 3.98
8 α- terpineol 3.11
9 α- terpinene 2.72
10 α-myrcene 2.38
11 isoeugenol 1.74
12 terpinolene 1.62
13 elemicin 1.42
14 α-thujene 0.78
15 methyleugenol 0.77
16 citronellol 0.77
17 linalool 0.75
18 Bornyl acetate 0.24
19 camphene 0.16
20 Myristic acid 0.11
21 Méthoxyeugénol 0.10
22 Ethyl palmitate 0.07
23 Hydrate cis -sabinène 0.06
24 Linalyl acetate 0.06
25 fenchol 0.05
26 Ethyl myristate 0.04
27 Palmitic acid 0.03
28 β-ocimene 0.03
29 β-asarone 0.03
30 Stearic acid 0.01
31 Ethyl oleate 0.01

Main properties: antiseptic , antiparasitic , analgesic , analgesic , tonic , neurotonic, carminative , uterotonic, emmenagogue .

Mainly prescribed for: digestive atony, enterocolitis spasmodic, infectious enterocolitis, diarrhea , parasitosis intestinal, childbirth (facilitates), rheumatism acute, chronic rheumatism, sprains, stiffness, asthenia .

Essential oil of nut shell, or mace

Composition: alpha and beta pinenes, myrcene, sabinene, alpha and gamma terpinenes, limonene, terpinen-4-ol , safrole, myristicin, elemicin.

Main properties: antiseptic, antiparasitic, analgesic, analgesic, tonic, neurotonic, carminative, uterotonic, emmenagogue.

Essentially prescribed for: digestive atony, spasmodic enterocolitis, infectious enterocolitis, diarrhea, intestinal parasitosis, childbirth (facilitates), acute rheumatism, chronic rheumatism, sprain, stiffness, asthenia.


Production in tonnes (2007-2008 figures) 
FAOSTAT data ( FAO )
Production (MT) Global share by weight Production ($ 1000) Global share in value
Guatemala 28,000 38% 27,265 29%
India 16,000 22% 22,960 25%
Indonesia 8,600 12% 12,341 13%
Nepal 6,792 9% 9,746 11%
Bhutan 5,800 8% 8,323 9%
Grenade 2,800 4% 4,018 4%
Laos 2,700 4% 3,874 4%
Other countries 4,190 4% 3,927 4%
Total 73,432 100% 92,454 100%


  1. ↑ Spices , Jean-Marie Pelt , ed. fayard, 2002
  2. ↑ [ archive ]
  3. ↑ Article Nutmeg E-santé.fr [ archive ]
  4. ↑ Muchtaridi; Subarnas, A .; Apriyantono, A .; Mustarichie, R. “Identification of Compounds in the Essential Oil of Nutmeg Seeds ( Myristica Fragrances Houtt.) That Inhibit Locomotor Activity in Mice. ” Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2010, 11 ( 11 ): 4771-81. DOI : 10.3390 / ijms11114771