A to Z Herbarium: Nutmeg



Luck, Money, Health, Fidelity


Fun fact: Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree native to the Banda Islands of Indonesia. The seed, while still in its husk, is shrouded in a lacy red covering. This covering is dried to become the spice mace.

Carry a whole nutmeg seed to bring good luck. It will also ward off rheumatism, cold sores, neuralgia, boils, and sties. (I’m not sure how it does all that from your pocket, but OK.)

According to an old Creole spell, if you sprinkle nutmeg into a woman’s shoe at midnight, then she will fall in love with you.

To ensure the fidelity of a loved one, cut a nutmeg in exactly four pieces (good luck with that). Bury one part in the earth, throw one off a cliff, burn the third, and boil the last piece in water. Take a sip of the water and carry the nutmeg piece with you wherever you go. Even sleep with it under your pillow (seriously, it is a part of you now). Your loved one will apparently stay true to you as a result.

Nutmeg is calming and can help one sleep. Sprinkling it in some warm milk with honey is supposed to be especially helpful. It also aids in digestion and whets the appetite. It reduces gas and excess acid in the stomach, and can help with discomfort caused by diarrhea. Nutmeg oil helps with joint and muscle pain.

Interestingly, in large doses nutmeg is hallucinogenic. However, taking such large doses of the spice results in vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal distress. It can also lead to heart and nerve problems. (So, you know, don’t party with the nutmeg). Nutmeg intoxication epidemics were apparently a thing in the early 1900s and then in the 1960s

Pregnant women shouldn’t take nutmeg medicinally, and one should not consume more than one teaspoon.



Cunningham’s Encylopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham, 2016, Llewellyn Publications



ABC News



  1. I love to sprinkle nutmeg on my pumpkin and the taste is to die for. I didn’t know about the milk and honey and nutmeg drink before bed will help one sleep, will have to give that one a go next time I’m counting sheep.

    • Sara C. Snider

      It’s worth a shot! I also love the taste of nutmeg. I like to put it in banana smoothies. 🙂

  2. Hi Sara – I love nutmeg … and use with our English ‘junket’ – which I’ve written about; and use it in Spanokopita – which I’ve also written about. Nutmeg is often recommended with spinach … but I love the uses you’ve given us – not sure how many I’ll try?! Cheers Hilary

  3. Interesting attributes of nutmeg — not sure about the carrying and burying, but would try it for sleeping 🙂

  4. I have to say, spells with nutmeg seem to be quite complicated.
    Didn’t know it is hallucinogenit.

    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir

    • Sara C. Snider

      I didn’t know it was hallucinogenic either. Crazy stuff! 😛

  5. One of my favorite dishes (Georgian turkey) involves nutmeg 🙂 Also, I used to live in Connecticut, where the state symbol is the nutmeg…

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF – Weird Things in Folktales

    • Sara C. Snider

      I had no idea nutmeg was the symbol for Connecticut. I wonder what the history behind that is.

  6. Deborah Weber

    I hadn’t realized nutmeg and mace come from the same nutmeg fruit. I do know freshly grated/ground nutmeg is infinitely more aromatic and wonderful than the pre-ground packaged variety.

    And now I’m wondering if I’ve ever been the recipient of nutmeg in my shoes. 🙂

    • Sara C. Snider

      I didn’t know either prior to writing this, I thought it was a cool fact. 🙂 And yeah, I keep whole nutmeg around. It’s so much better than the pre-ground stuff!

      Have you ever fallen in love and been confused about it? 😉

  7. I love the taste of nutmeg but I did not know these other things about it.

    Melissa @ My Creatively Random Life

  8. It has so many culinary uses – I get through loads! I knew nothing of it’s medicinal or fortune changing uses!

    Another day in Amble Bay!

    • Sara C. Snider

      I don’t use it a lot in cooking, so little stash of nutmeg usually lasts a while 🙂

  9. I haven’t had the hallucination-thing with nutmeg. Yet. But I’m sure those sprinkling it in shoes have 😉 Happy A-to-Z-ing.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah, I think you need to eat quite a lot. Which would be gross to start with, since nutmeg has such a strong flavor. And then, of course, you’d probably get sick… 😛 Hehe! Delusions of love grandeur?

  10. I enjoy nutmeg on the top of a South African Meltert, or on custard. Thanks for sharing. N is for Nuggets and News as you Build a Better Blog. #AtoZchallenge.

    • Sara C. Snider

      I had to look up the South African Melktert–looks like a custard pie (and therefore yummy!). Thanks for swinging by, Shirley. 🙂

  11. Didn’t know nutmeg could be so dangerous! I love the stuff – prefer it over cinnamon any day.

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah, it’s pretty crazy, really. Though, if eating it as a seasoning I don’t think it’s a concern given how strong it is. A little goes a long way! I love it too. 🙂

  12. Interesting about the nutmeg/mace connection. Learned something new! Also good to know about the arthritis help with nutmeg oil. Will definitely try that!

    • Sara C. Snider

      Yeah, I thought that was neat. Hopefully the oil will help you out.

  13. Okay, the image of people partying with the nutmeg has just made me laugh out loud – who knew it had such dodgy properties. I love nutmeg and regularly use it in baking and in soups, so hopefully I’m absorbing some of it’s useful benefits.

    Highlands Days of Fun

    • Sara C. Snider

      I know, right? Pretty crazy that there would be epidemics, too. Then again, knowing humans, I guess maybe not so crazy. 😉 Nutmeg is delicious!

  14. I like to use nutmeg in cooking but obviously haven’t yet ODed on it! I’ve learned a few new things!


  15. I love nutmeg – gives a great edgy taste to cappuccino, and in warm milk and honey at night it really helps a good dreamy sleep. Thanks Sara! All those extra benefits!

  16. We use nutmeg in Indian cuisine. It is called “jai-phal” here. I’ve heard of its effects on our GI tract and the sleep benefits, but didn’t know of all the other uses. Sprinkling it in a woman’s shoes! Really? 😀

    Btw, I’m lagging behind. But will catch up. Do visit my N post.
    Happy AtoZing!
    Chicky @ http://www.mysteriouskaddu.com

    • Sara C. Snider

      I thought the shoe thing was funny. Maybe try cooking for her with that nutmeg, eh? Probably would have better results. 😉

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