When You Eat Too Much Nutmeg, This Is What Happens

We all have our favorite associations with nutmeg. Christmas cookies, sausages, or perhaps a fun cocktail? The sweet, warming spice has made its way into a lot of our favorite nostalgic foods. According to The Spice House, nutmeg is the seed of the evergreen tree, Myristica fragrans. The tree grows best in a tropical climate, and is native to the Indonesian Banda Islands. This centuries-old spice is often the extra hint of taste we want on our palettes, but is it possible to consume way too much of it? 

Medical News Today claims that there are effects of eating too much nutmeg, a term known as "nutmeg high" or "nutmeg intoxication." This occurs because myristicin, a chemical found in the spice, creates a compound that affects the sympathetic nervous system. So what happens while under the influence of too much nutmeg and are the side effects serious?

A nutmeg high has been described as feeling like you are encased in mud

Healthline explains that a person experiencing a nutmeg high can have hallucinations, drowsiness, dry mouth, and confusion lasting up to ten hours. Edward Boyer, M.D., a professor of emergency medicine and chief of the division of medical toxicology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School shares with The New York Times how some have described this nutmeg high. "People have told me that it feels like you are encased in mud. You're not exactly comatose, but you feel really sluggish. And your remembrance of events during this time period is incomplete at best," he says.

It may appear that getting high from a spice might be a safer alternative to other drugs, but this is not the case. In fact, there have been multiple cases linking toxic amounts of nutmeg to organ failure. And as Medical News Today claims, cases studies have revealed that too much nutmeg taken with other harmful drugs can be fatal. 

However, don't let us scare you away from this aromatic spice. Dr. Boyer explains to The New York Times that there are very few cases of nutmeg intoxication, and most of those were intentional. Your typical holiday recipes don't call for nearly enough nutmeg to be harmful. In fact, most sweet treats, cocktails or other foods with nutmeg have just 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per batch. Studies show that two teaspoons is enough to send you into a nutmeg high, but again, it's impossible that could happen with regular use, unless you're eating it by the spoonfuls.