10 December 2021 / Caitlin Devlin
Nutmeg Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits
Nutmeg is a soothing oil most commonly used to relieve muscle pain and promote sleep.
Now a common festive spice, nutmeg was once so valuable that nations warred to control its trade.
Nutmeg essential oil is extracted from the dried kernels of the Myristica fragrans tree, which is native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Rumours of magical healing properties, mysterious spiritual effects, and even visions and hallucinations have surrounded the spice for centuries, although it is thought that some of these legends were invented to mask the location of the spice so that its benefits didn’t have to be shared. When nutmeg eventually did make its way to Europe, it was pronounced a cure for the Black Death and so was incredibly valuable. In the 1600s, an intense battle occurred between the English and the Dutch for control of the spice. These days, nutmeg is far easier to come by, and is often used to relieve cramps and insomnia.
Nutmeg essential oil can reduce pain and swelling.
Nutmeg has long been recognised to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It was used in ancient Chinese medicine to soothe sore and swollen joints, and is still employed for this purpose over a thousand years later. A study in 2016 displayed nutmeg’s impressive anti-inflammatory powers when it tested its effectiveness against inflammatory joint pain and the accompanying swelling. It was found that nutmeg was able to reduce inflammation around the area and relieve pain.
It can help to treat insomnia.
A relaxing oil, nutmeg is used by many to induce sleep and bring a feeling of a comfort and safety. An animal study that tested the effects of nutmeg on chickens found that nutmeg was able to increase both the quality and duration of sleep in the birds. More recently, a study in 2016 found that taking capsules containing nutmeg was an effective way to decrease symptoms of insomnia in participants. Diffusing nutmeg oil in the bedroom may be a great way to promote healthy sleeping patterns.
It can support digestion.
The soothing properties of nutmeg oil can also help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Nutmeg is found to settle the digestive system and reduce gastric distress due to its anti-inflammatory effects. A study in 2002 found that nutmeg’s gut-calming effects can even help to reduce symptoms of diarrhoea. Many people have also found nutmeg to have a healing effect on stomach ulcers.
To feel these effects, try diluting nutmeg oil with a carrier oil and rubbing it on the lower abdomen. We do not recommend taking nutmeg essential oil internally unless it is explicitly stated to be food grade.
It boosts heart health.
Inflammation poses a big risk to heart health. Thankfully, nutmeg oil’s strong anti-inflammatory effects can help to protect the heart and reduce the risk of serious diseases. A study in 2016 showed this when it found that nutmeg was effective at lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. There is also some evidence that nutmeg oil can reduce the risk of blood clots. A study in 1996 found that nutmeg helped back the aggregation of blood clots in rabbits, however no concrete human trials have since appeared.
Warm, comforting nutmeg has gone from being a rare and prized commodity to a kitchen staple. However, the benefits that once made nutmeg so valuable are still incredibly useful for us today, and we should be sure to take advantage of them.
Shop our nutmeg essential oil here.