Beware, this Spice can be Poisonous
Nutmeg is a commonly used spice that comes from the nutmeg tree. Grown in Indonesia, the same tree produces the spices mace and nutmeg. Mace is produced from the red covering around the hard, inner seed that is turned into nutmeg. After drying, nutmeg can be sold whole or pre-ground. It's frequently used in spiced desserts and drinks like eggnog, and a pinch can be added to creamy and cheesy sauces and dishes. It can also be used as part of a spice mix in savory meat and vegetarian dishes.
Nutmeg contains a substance called myristicin, a narcotic with very unpleasant toxic side effects if taken in large quantities. Myristicin can be found in a number of other spices and plants but is present in higher amounts in nutmeg. Ingestion of small amounts of nutmeg is harmless to the body, including the amounts called for in all standard recipes. However, the consumption of more than 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg at once can cause side effects like wild hallucinations, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and irregular heartbeat within one to six hours after ingestion. Effects can last for several hours, and, when a large amount is used, can lead to organ failure.
Pregnant women should not ingest large amounts of nutmeg as they risk birth defects or miscarriage. Nutmeg can be especially dangerous when mixed with other drugs since it can change how drugs are processed by the liver. Combining large amounts of nutmeg and other drugs has, on rare occasions, been linked to death.
The effects of nutmeg have not been extensively studied and reported cases of nutmeg poisoning are rare. Individuals should refrain from ingesting more than a typical amount of nutmeg, not exceeding a teaspoon per person. Most recipes call for 1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg or less and feed multiple people, making these dishes perfectly safe without risk of side effects.
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