NUTMEG, Myristica fragrans

NUTMEG


Latin name:   Myristica fragrans

English name: Nutmeg, Mace

Sanskrit name: Jatiphala, Jatiphalam, Jatikosha, Jatipatri, Jatipatra

Indian name: Jaiphal, Jayapatri, Javitri

Medicinal parts used: Seeds

Nutmeg & Mace are two distinctly different spices produced from a fruit of an evergreen tree usually 9-12 meter high. Mace is the dried reticulated ‘aril’ of the fruit and nutmeg is the dried seed kernel of the fruit. The trees are normally unisexual, bearing either male or female flowers. The male flowers are born in clusters, whereas female flowers are often solitary. Fruit is a fleshy drupe, spherical in shape, pale yellow in colour with a longitudinal groove in the centre. When the fruit mature it burst open along the groove exposing the bright attractive mace, covering the hard black, shiny shell of the seed called nutmeg.

The plant is a native to Moluccas, now cultivated in many tropical countries of both hemispheres. The major nutmeg growing areas are Indonesia and Granada. It also grows on a smaller scale in Sri Lanka, India, China, Malaysia, Zanzibar, Mauritius and Solomon Island.

Both nutmeg and mace are used as condiment particularly in sweet foods. It is also used as a drug in Eastern countries because of its stimulant, carminative, astringent and aphrodisiac properties. Excessive doses have a narcotic effect.

Therapeutic use:

  • Nutmeg is reported to be an expectorant, vermifuge, aphrodisiac, and as a nervine used by psychiatrists.
  • It is used in tonics and electuaries and is recommended for the treatment of inflammations of bladder and urinary tract.
  • Mace is used in folk medicine for the treatment of rheumatism.
  • It has anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  • Used in small dosages, nutmeg can reduce flatulence, aid digestion, improve the appetite and treat diarrhea, vomiting and nausea.
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