Nutmeg. Exotic spice, bogus plague cure, and a gateway to hellish hallucinations and paranoid ideation. Though most are familiar Nutmeg for providing a delightful garnish to a cup of hot chocolate, some particularly jaded stoners know high doses of Nutmeg can cause psychoactive effects ranging from mild euphoria to terrifying, disassociative hallucinations.
Nutmeg was first introduced to the West during the spice craze of the late Middle ages. Since trade with the far East in those days involved long sea journeys or overland caravans, exotic spices were extremely rare and expensive in European courts, and it became a symbol of wealth and status to load up a guest’s meal with spices, particularly Nutmeg, which was prized for the flavor it imparted to savory meats and it’s rumored(though completely non-existent) ability to ward off the plague. Nutmeg was so valuable that the first colony established by England was a small Island in the Indian Sea that the British promised to protect from the Dutch in exchange for some of that sweet, spicy brown powder.
Even at the time the ability of Nutmeg to produce a high was well known among Hindu mystics, who would snort it up through their nose along with other plant-based intoxicants such as Betel Leaf. However, it wasn’t until the wild, heady days of the 1960’s that Nutmeg intoxication became a recognized phenomenon in the US.
Nutmeg contains Myristicin, which is chemically similar to Mescalin, the psychoactive ingredient in Peyote. But it’s similar in the same way that taking a sleeping pill to fight insomnia is similar to having a friend bash you in the head with a baseball bat. The intent is the same, but one method leaves you in a peaceful slumber and the other has you waking up in an MRI machine.
Whereas Mescaline can trigger some powerful, and in many cases frightening, hallucinations, Nutmeg bears only a passing relation to Mescaline. If Mescaline is your friend with white-guy dreads who can get you a sheet of LSD for the Phish Concert, Myristicin is his foreign cousin pressuring you to give him $60 for some drug cooked up in a lab in Malaysia. He just picked it up down at the docks. It doesn’t have a name in English yet.
A few grams of Peyote might have you driving out into the desert to commune with the spirit of the fox, only to wake up the next morning with your pants on your head wrapped up like a turban and a jar full of scorpions you somehow collected. Taking a bunch of Nutmeg will have you spending the next few days trying to figure out why that piles of clothes in your bedroom keeps turning into a dragon.
That’s right, days. A Nutmeg high can last anywhere from 24 to 100 hours though the intense hallucinations might only last 5-14 hours, which is still way longer than you want to spend dealing with the conviction that your face is melting.
Nutmeg is usually taken in powdered form though some people try to smoke it, which is said to be less effective. The dosage varies depending on a variety of factors, such as how fresh the Nutmeg is (generally the fresher the more potent). It takes a significant amount to get high, anywhere from a tablespoon to an entire container of powder, or 3-4 whole fresh nuts. If you’ve ever seen a youtube video of the “Cinnamon Challenge” you can see why choking down four tablespoons of Nutmeg might prove challenging.
Most accounts of the side effects include pounding headaches, red eyes, serious dehydration, memory loss, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts. Remember, these effects can last for days, along with the mind-shredding hallucinations I mentioned earlier. Quite a few accounts from people who have tried it have focused on the fact that they were convinced while they were high that these effects were going to last forever. Here’s one such account for your consideration:
“I ate four nuts at 4:30pm. For the first four hours I just got a little sweaty and felt weird, but nothing abnormal, suddenly, at 8:45pm or so, I started seeing things in an unreal way, I felt like being extremely stoned. A lot of ideas and thoughts moved through my mind. At 9:30pm I looked in the mirror and I notices my eyes were extremely red, nothing like they had been before, my mouth was very dry and I felt really crazy, my head and parts of the body moved without me wanting to, I felt sudden chills out of nowhere and had odd closed-eyed light visuals. Around 12:30 y felt terribly confused and very, very, very stoned. My stomach hurt and I had terrible nausea, I wanted it all to end but I couldn’t the effects were controlling me, I couldn’t do anything, so, I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t… discomforting thoughts and convulsions didn’t let me sleep… I saw my thoughts pass by and I couldn’t catch them. I managed to sleep around 2:00am. The next morning I woke up at 9:00am and effects were still very intense, I wanted to die, I felt terrible, Everything was awful and my eyes were still very red. That same day, around 7:00pm I felt suicidal, effects didn’t go away and I thought to myself they were never going to go away, but I managed to sleep and the day after I woke up feeling better. I felt that I hadn’t done what I did the day before, It was a weird confusing sensation.”
All of this is exacerbated by the fact that the amount of Nutmeg you would need to take to get high is very close to the amount needed to contract Nutmeg Toxicity, side effects of which are convulsions, nausea, and burning pain in the abdomen. The only recorded incident of someone dying from Nutmeg was an 8-year-old boy who had ingested just 14 grams.
So if all of that still has you curious about Nutmeg, it probably won’t kill you but could easily send you to the hospital, where most Doctors agree that people they treat for Nutmeg intoxication generally don’t try it again.
Food for thought.