The Spice That May Not Be So Nice This Holiday Season

the MPR take:

Nutmeg may be a nice addition to your eggnog, but ingesting too much of it may lead to very unpleasant consequences. While used medicinally for many years, the spice has been known to have hallucinogenic and psychotropic effects when consumed in excess. Some animal studies have suggested that myristicin, the chemical in the seed from which the spice originates, may be metabolized into MMDA, a hallucinogenic stimulant; it may also have similar effects to monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Toxicologists point out that too much nutmeg (two or more tablespoons) can cause a person to have an out-of-body experience, with the most common symptoms being tachycardia, emesis, and agitation. While nutmeg toxicity is rare, abuse of the spice is more common among adolescents. A review of the California Poison Control System database indicates 119 instances of exposure between 1997 and 2008 (86 intentional cases; 33 unintentional cases). The review however fails to mention how one unintentionally consumes too much nutmeg, so for this holiday season, it’s best to keep in mind that just a sprinkle of the spice is enough.

The Spice That May Not Be So Nice This Holiday Season
The Spice That May Not Be So Nice This Holiday Season

In these early days of the holiday season, as cooks begin sifting through recipes rich in spice and sugar, consider this small warning from toxicologists: Measure your nutmeg carefully. More recently, desperate prisoners embraced it as a rather miserable drug substitute. “It's not that nutmeg cases are that common,” said Leon Gussow, an Illinois toxicologist who publishes a blog for professionals called The Poison Review.

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