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10 December 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Nutmeg Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Nutmeg is a soothing oil most commonly used to relieve muscle pain and promote sleep.

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Nutmeg in a white bowl, with a cracked nutmeg next to the bowl.

Now a common festive spice, nutmeg was once so valuable that nations warred to control its trade.

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.

These days, nutmeg is far easier to come by, and is often used to relieve cramps and soothe sleep issues as well as to scent seasonal deities.

What is Nutmeg Essential Oil?

Nutmeg essential oil is extracted from the dried kernels of the Myristica fragrans tree, which is native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.

These kernels can be found on the insides of the tree’s fruit, contained within an aril known as a mace. Nutmeg oil is extracted via steam distillation and has a nutty, spicy aroma with a warm woodiness.

Known for its culinary applications, nutmeg oil differs slightly from its grounded counterpart in that it has a richer scent profile, which allows it to work well as a base for other, lighter aromas such as floral or earthy essential oils.

What are the benefits of Nutmeg Essential Oil?

While you may only see nutmeg oil as something to be diffused in the heart of winter, there is more to this spicy little oil than meets the eye.

Aside from its warming properties, nutmeg can assist with several ailments including, but not limited to:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Digestive issues
  • Heart health
  • Reduced libido
  • Respiratory issues

Nutmeg piled on one another.

Can nutmeg essential oil reduce pain and swelling?

Nutmeg has long been recognised for its 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 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.

These pain-relieving benefits have also made nutmeg oil a famous remedy for treating menstrual cramps.

Its analgesic and emmenagogue properties have gained significant traction for helping to ease discomfort on top of regulating the menstrual cycle, controlling hormonal imbalances, and managing mood swings.

tested the effects of   and against primary dysmenorrhea when massaged into the abdomen. Each displayed positive signs of relief for cramps before and during the menstrual cycle.

Does nutmeg oil help with sleep?

A relaxing oil, nutmeg is used by many to induce sleep and facilitate an environment of comfort and safety.

As nutmeg is a sedative, it can assist in directly relaxing the nervous system, which in turn allows for the release of serotonin in the brain.

An that tested the effects of nutmeg oil on chickens found that it was able to increase both the quality and duration of sleep in the birds.

More recently, a 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, as well as reduce anxiety or restlessness before bed.

How does nutmeg help 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 as a result of its anti-inflammatory effects, as well as its powerful levels of phytonutrients that can help keep gastrointestinal organs working as they should.

A found that nutmeg’s gut-calming effects can even help to reduce symptoms of diarrhoea, and many people have also found nutmeg to have a healing effect on stomach ulcers, constipation, and nausea, as well as appetite regulation.

To utilise these powerful properties in your day-to-day, 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.

Using nutmeg essential oil to boost 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 demonstrated these protective properties when it discovered that nutmeg was effective at lowering ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and many have claimed that nutmeg’s distinct aroma can promote healthy blood circulation by helping to transport oxygen to the cells around the body.

There is also some evidence that nutmeg oil can reduce the risk of blood clots. A found that nutmeg helped back the aggregation of blood clots in rabbits, however no concrete human trials have since appeared.

Can nutmeg oil help to increase libido?

While research is still unsure exactly how nutmeg oil enhances sexual activity and performance, its invigorating aroma has certainly been revered for its strong benefits in both men and women alike.

A tested these effects in relation to male sexual disorders, finding that nutmeg oil had a strong aphrodisiac quality without any adverse effects. It is said that this may be due to the oil’s ability to stimulate the nervous system.

Nutmeg essential oil for respiratory issues

Medicinally, nutmeg can be found in a number of cough syrups and cold rubs due to its supposed effects on the respiratory tract.

In spite of its spicy scent profile - which often does not facilitate these types of benefits – nutmeg oil is said to be an effective decongestant, largely due to its expectorant properties that can help loosen respiratory secretions. 

An older found that inhaling nutmeg successfully helped to decrease respiratory tract fluid in rabbits as a result.

How to use Nutmeg Essential Oil

Aromatherapy

The sweet, spicy, and woody scent of nutmeg essential oil is a seasonal staple, so is a great choice for diffusing around your home during the festive period as a way to set a joyful atmosphere – as well as ward off any winter colds!

Nutmeg oil’s sedative qualities also make it a great oil to diffuse before bed. Simply add 5-7 drops to your diffuser or oil burner and let the pungent aromas lull you to sleep.

Alternatively, if you prefer to set a different vibe in the bedroom, nutmeg can help to stimulate your libido and act as an effective aphrodisiac.

Bath

Nutmeg essential oil can also be sprinkled into your bath as an alternative method to aromatherapy.

Taking a warm bath before bed using nutmeg will help to increase the oil’s sedative effects even further, as well as reduce feelings of restlessness or stress after a long day.

Massage

As nutmeg is so versatile in its benefits to the body, massaging the oil into your skin with the help of a carrier oil is a great choice for a number of bodily ailments.

If you’re suffering from menstrual cramps, nutmeg oil’s anti-inflammatory effects can help to reduce this discomfort by being rubbed gently onto the lower abdominal area.

These same effects can be used to help soothe swollen joints or muscles, as well as ease gastric stress.

Candle and soap making

The warm spiciness of nutmeg oil makes it a fantastic ingredient for seasonal candles, soaps, and other scent-related projects.

We recommend following a tested recipe, or checking out some of our own ideas over on the Make At Home section of our blog.

History of Nutmeg Essential Oil

Nutmeg’s mystical myths and spiritual connections meant that the plant was not actually known to Greek or Roman civilisations, and instead gained most of its use in Ancient Egyptian societies as an important part of the mummification process.

When nutmeg eventually did make its way to Europe, it was highly treasured as a supposed cure for the Black Death, which doctors claimed was the only antidote at the time.

This led to the spice’s value increasing even further and, in the 1600s, an intense battle occurred between the English and the Dutch for control of the spice as a result – known as the “Nutmeg Wars”.

    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.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Nutmeg Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Myristica Fragrans
    Scent Type Spices
    Benefits & Uses Anti-Inflammatory, Pain relief, Sleep Aid
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this nutmeg essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this nutmeg essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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