Nutmeg is a spice that is often used in eggnog and cakes, but when smoked or ingested at high doses, this tangy spice can be toxic.

Hallucinogenic Effects of Nutmeg

People have used nutmeg to achieve hallucinogenic results for at least a century if not longer. Primarily known as a cooking spice, nutmeg is produced from the seed of a nutmeg tree.1 According to Illinois toxicologist, Dr. Leon Gussow in an article for the New York Times, “Nutmeg experimenters have compered it to a two-day hangover.”

Other reported side effects of nutmeg—in amounts of two tablespoons or more—include the following:
 

  • Abdominal pain
  • Feelings of agitation and irritation
  • Chest pains
  • Extreme coldness
  • Deliriousness and delirium
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Feelings of fear, including fear of dying
  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid pulse
  • A feeling of restlessness2
  • Out-of-body sensations
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • eExtreme dry mouth
  • An extended slowing of normal brain function.3

Nutmeg Intoxication from Ingestion

Nutmeg intoxication can last up to 24 hours, but the “nutmeg high” which is similar to a hangover can last as long as two days. And some symptoms don’t appear until several hours after the spice has been ingested. This can increase the risk of accident or injury since activities like driving while under the influence of nutmeg are likely.

Ingesting large amounts of nutmeg, more than two tablespoons, can result in hallucinations and delusions and feelings of extreme heaviness in the arms and legs. could result in psychotic episodes that include delusions and hallucinations. Repeated use of nutmeg to get high can also lead to chronic psychosis, characterized by impaired thinking and emotions.4

Nutmeg Inhalation and the Body

Once a person has smoked nutmeg, the symptoms are similar to ingesting it. The substance affects the body’s central nervous system as well as the gastrointestinal system. Similar to the symptoms of intoxication from ingesting nutmeg, the following symptoms are signs of nutmeg poisoning or toxicity from inhalation:

  • Central nervous system effects, including euphoria, giddiness, anxiety, hallucinations (visual, auditory or tactile), apprehension, detachment, headache, dizziness and drowsiness
  • Cardiovascular effects, including tachycardia, hypotension and flushing
  • Gastrointestinal effects, including nausea, pain, gagging and vomiting
  • Peripheral effects, including numbness, blurred vision, hypothermia and sweating

In the early stages of poisoning, a person may also seem to be experiencing a psychotic episode.

Potential for Nutmeg Abuse

The potential for nutmeg abuse is fairly low compared to the abuse of other household items like inhalants and prescription drugs. However, it is important for parents to keep all potentially harmful or addictive substances out of the reach of children and teens to prevent addiction and accidental overdose.

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here for you. Call our toll-free helpline, 855-317-8377, 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.


Sources

1 Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Nutmeg." Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 6 Dec. 2017.

2 Foxx, Richard. "A Nutmeg High? Side Effects of Getting High on Nutmeg." Doctors Health Press - Daily Free Health Articles and Natural Health Advice, Doctors Health Press - Daily Free Health Articles and Natural Health Advice, 23 Feb. 2016.

3 Blum, Deborah. "A Warning on Nutmeg." The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Nov. 2014.

4 Foxx, Richard. "A Nutmeg High? Side Effects of Getting High on Nutmeg." Doctors Health Press - Daily Free Health Articles and Natural Health Advice, Doctors Health Press - Daily Free Health Articles and Natural Health Advice, 23 Feb. 2016.