With the recent listing of Nutmeg as a dangerous drug, it seemed appropriate to check it out, so I looked it up in my book on narcotic plants and here’s what I found:

Myristica fragrans is the botanical term for the nutmeg tree which grows to around sixty feet and bears scented yellow flowers which result in pendulous fruit that resemble an apricot. When split, the fruit reveals a seed about an inch in length which is covered by a crimson aril which in turn is easily separated from the seed and is known in the trade as ‘mace’, a delicate condiment. A whole nutmeg without the seed coat contains 15 per cent volatile oils, which imparts its characteristic flavour.

Native to the Banda or ‘Nutmeg’ Islands, it wasn’t until 1512 when the Portuguese reached the islands that nutmeg was became known to the western world. And then it wasn’t until 1576 that nutmeg was recorded as having hallucinogenic effects, when Lobelius in his Plantarum seu stiripium historia described a “..pregnant English lady who, having eaten ten or twelve nutmegs, became deliriously inebriated”. In 1829 the well known biologist Purkinje ate three nutmegs and compared the effects to that which is experienced after Cannabis – which means the guy obviously knew all about the latter! The Materia Medica published in 1883 indicates that “..the Hindus of West India take Myristica as an intoxicant”. Nutmeg is also mixed with betel and snuff in some parts of South India. In rural parts of East Indonesia too, we are told, that nutmeg is powdered and used as snuff.

Nutmeg was a precious commodity in the seventeenth century when the Dutch controlled the nutmeg market from Amsterdam. The seed was regarded as a medicine of great merit and was considered so valuable that carved wooden replicas were sold to the ignorant through a black market. Slaves on ships bearing nutmeg as cargo were often castigated for consuming the kernel of the seed, which obviously relieved the weariness, bringing on euphoric sensations and pleasant visions never experienced before. Nutmegs encased in silver were worn at night to induce sleep and also for the apparent aphrodisiacal qualities attributed to them and so became a common ingredient in love potions. It was also known in London as an effective abortifacient.

Two known hallucinogens, TMA (trimethoxy amphetamine) and MMDA (3-methoxy-4, 5-methylenodioxy amphetamine) are known to be possible to extract from the oil and it is recorded that laboratory animals that were given large doses of nutmeg were found to have highly diseased livers.

Now this interesting fruit (and nut) has been ‘illegalised’ – after what, five-hundred years since the western world got to know about it – and with no known user abuse? Sound ridiculous to you? Wonder what drives the folk that are into this kind of stuff, or is some insidious plot by those vested interests (read anti-drug law-enforcement and drug barons) to get nutmeg on the black-market for more money to be made by illegal trade – like Cannabis?

For more on this, check out https://javajones.wordpress.com/2007/03/26/nutmeg-%E2%80%93-of-all-things/

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