Nutmeg has been used for its medicinal properties for more than 5,000 years for everything from breathing difficulties to low libido. For the ancient Arabs, nutmeg benefits included treating nausea, shortness of breath and even skin disorders.
What is nutmeg?
The nutmeg we know as a baking spice is the seed of the nutmeg tree. This tropical, evergreen tree is native to Indonesia’s Spice Islands.
It is typically sold as a ground spice. Most recipes call for nutmeg powder. But you can sometimes purchase whole nutmeg seeds. Grinding nutmeg yourself offers a fresher flavor but it does require more work. According to Erotic Cuisine, in previous centuries it was the practice to carry around a tiny silver box with a grater so that fresh nutmeg could be grated into ground nutmeg and added to tea or snacks.
Nutmeg is a spice with a strong aroma and a slightly bitter taste. It is used in both savory and sweet foods. But it is most often used in collaboration with other spices.
Is nutmeg a narcotic?
Although it’s clear that nutmeg is an aphrodisiac for some, this baking spice may be better known as a narcotic.
Nutmeg contains myristicin, which has narcotic properties. In large doses, it can be hallucinogenic. In even larger doses, it is fatal. Nutmeg poisoning is associated with the death of several individuals who used the spice for its potential psychoactive properties.
So if you are interested in using nutmeg for libido, it is best to stick with traditional recipes that incorporate the spice or perhaps steep it as a nutmeg tea, rather than trying to take large quantities on your own.
Is nutmeg an aphrodisiac?
The Hindus embraced this spice for its more sensual properties as a stimulant. For them, it was a treatment to raise body heat. They also used it to sweeten their breath.
But both cultures were also known to tap into the benefits of nutmeg sexually.
In other parts of the world, like Zanzibar, it was at one time fed to brides, according to The Aphrodisiac Encyclcopaedia, to “make them loose.” Even the English adopted nutmeg as an aphrodisiac. In the seventeenth century, a doctor and author of medical texts, Willian Salmon, recommended nutmeg oil applied to the nether regions as a quick fix for boosting libido.
The evidence-based benefits of nutmeg sexually for men
Although the Hindus could not have known what modern science has allowed us to discover, it seems their use of nutmeg as a sexual stimulant for men was on the mark. A scientific study published in 2005 demonstrated that, in the proper dose, nutmeg increased libido in male rats. The implication is that, with further study, this spice can be used as a powerful, natural treatment for sexual disorders in men.
This wasn’t the first study of its kind on nutmeg and men’s sexual function, nor the last. But it still isn’t really clear exactly how nutmeg’s effect on libido actually works or specifically how it can be harnessed. But for those with curiosity, it can’t hurt to add nutmeg as an aphrodisiac to your cooking.
Sexual benefits for women & men
Nutmeg has anti-inflammatory properties and it may support heart health. This has the potential to benefit not just men but could be one of nutmeg’s benefits for female sexual health. Studies show that taking high doses of nutmeg may reduce risk factors for heart disease.
This is good news not just for the heart but also for sexual health as a strong heart and good blood flow are necessary for achieving sexual arousal and climax. (More research is needed to predict just how beneficial nutmeg may be to heart health and whether the results vary between men and women.)
Additional nutmeg benefits to overall health
Although it may sound intimidating to hear that nutmeg is a narcotic and even potentially poisonous, those who use nutmeg as it is intended shouldn’t fear its dangerous side. In fact, this baking spice has many benefits to overall health that will have you looking for more ways to cook with spices. Here’s a look at some impressive nutmeg health benefits.
You may be surprised to learn that nutmeg is high in antioxidants. In fact, it contains a remarkable number of different antioxidants including catechins, cyanidins, essential oils and ferulic and caffeic acids. And in studies, this health benefit of nutmeg proved to reduce cellular damage in rats. Not enough studies have been performed with human subjects to know just how beneficial nutmeg is in fighting cell damage but it certainly shows potential.
May boost mood
One of the most interesting healing properties of nutmeg is that it appears to have a positive effect on the mind. Initial studies also show that this warming spice may have mood-boosting abilities. In a controlled study, it proved to have antidepressant effects on rats.
Another nutmeg health benefit, it appears to have antibacterial properties and has proven effective in fighting gingivitis. A sexy lover is definitely one with good mouth health!
In the modern kitchen, we love nutmeg for its scent. The uses of nutmeg, particularly in baking evoke all the warmth and comfort of home. Think fresh-baked spice cake, long winter nights by the fire, snowstorms and sleigh rides.
Nutmeg’s aromatic properties connect us with the comforts of the kitchen and of Mom. Perhaps that explains why nutmeg is known to have more effect on men than on women!
This article was written in 2010 and most recently updated in April 2021.
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