Natural and pure nutmeg essential oil with its nutty, spicy and soft aroma is obtained through steam distillation from the dried seed of the myristica fragrans nutmeg tree species. Nutmeg oil is used in aromatherapy, ointments, fragrances, perfumes, soaps, candles, dental products and hair care products.
When a fresh whole nutmeg fruit ripens, it breaks open and reveals the pericarp or nutmeg pod and a lacy, web like red color tissue called mace or aril that surrounds a brown shell which encases a seed. The seed which is the nutmeg contains essential oil. Two of the major chemical compositions of the nutmeg oil are eugenol and isoeugenol.
The nutmeg pericarp also contains volatile oil but is lower in content compared to the mace and the nutmeg. The fresh pericarp is not eaten raw because it's bitter but is made into pickles, syrup and jam.
In Malaysia, besides eaten as pickles the pericarp of the nutmeg or buah pala is sliced, dried and added with sugar and eaten as snack. The dried grounded aril is used to add flavor to sauce and ketchup while the nutmeg powder is used to spice and add aroma to sweet dishes. The nutmeg oil has been used traditionally used as a rub or ointment.
The mace or aril contains volatile oil with spicy aroma and is used in men's spicy fragrance. The grounded mace is used to add flavor to sweet and savory dishes. It has similar flavor to nutmeg and is often used to substitute the use of nutmeg.
Always use nutmeg essential oil in moderation as a high dosage is known to provide a toxic and hallucinogenic effect. This is due to the presence of myristicin in the oil. According to a study conducted by the Division of Toxicology, National Food Administration, Uppsala, Sweden, several intoxications were reported after an ingestion of 5g of nutmeg corresponding to 1-2 mg myristicin/kg body weight. Vivo and vitro studies show that myristicin, when taken internally in small dosages, has the potential to prevent tumor formation.
When using pure nutmeg oil topically, make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil such as almond oil, grapeseed oil, jojoba oil or olive oil. Nutmeg oil blends well with other essential oils such as cinnamon bark oil, clary sage, clove oil, geranium oil, orange oil, rosemary oil and vanilla oil.
If you are pregnant or nursing, avoid using nutmeg oil or any other essential oils before seeking advice or opinion from a doctor or professional aromatherapist.