Can Nutmeg be poisonous??

Here is an article title you don’t read everyday – Nutmeg Overdose Blamed for Swedish Man’s Spitting Attack. What the what?

Yes. You read that right. And what’s more – it could happen! Nutmeg is such a common spice that few people realize it contains myristicin, a natural compound that has mind-altering effects if ingested in large doses that can land you in the hospital.

While some people report a kind of out of body experience from ingesting too much nutmeg – more often the symptoms are nausea, dizziness, extreme dry mouth, and a lingering slowdown of normal brain function. According to a New York Times article called “A Warning on Nutmeg”, it is like a two day hangover. Fun.

How much nutmeg is dangerous? While the actual amount varies from person to person, it is often stated that 2-3 tsp start a “nutmeg intoxication” with more than two tablespoons being potentially fatal. That is a whole lot of nutmeg – but a very good reason there should never be a Nutmeg Challenge. (Though there shouldn’t be a Cinnamon Challenge either – but that’s another blog post).

The dangers of eating a massive amount of nutmeg has been known for ages.  According to Delish, as far as the 12th century, nutmeg has been used in waves as a drug, snorted, smoked, and eaten in large quantities to produce a hallucinogenic high. In that same NY Times article it spoke of using nutmeg for abortions and its ability to fight infection like the Black Plague.

Should you stop eating nutmeg? No. That’s not necessary. Most recipes call for a maximum of 1/4 tsp for the entire dish. And it’s a delicious and complex spice that also has several amazing health benefits (again, another post).

But please don’t eat an entire nutmeg in a sitting – no good will come from it.


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