Type of plant: Small evergreen tree growing to around 50 feet high with small, bell-shaped, waxy, creamy-colored flowers and large fruits
Part used: Nut/fruit
Method of extraction: Steam distillation
Data: Native to the Moluccas Islands in Indonesia, the nutmeg has a long history of use. Wars were fought over access to nutmeg, with the Portuguese trying to keep its source a secret until it was discovered by the Dutch, and then the British, who introduced the plant to the Caribbean, where it is now widely grown. The tree produces nuts after 9 years and is fully productive after 20 years. The fruit opens to reveal a single nut/seed, recognized as nutmeg, around which is a red filamentous material, mace, which is itself distilled into an essential oil. Nutmeg is now distributed around the world and plays an important part in cuisine from the Americas to Asia.
Principal places of production: Indonesia, Grenada, Sri Lanka
When buying look for: A colorless to pale-yellow liquid with a warm, sweet, rich, spicy aroma
Therapeutic properties: Analgesic, anti-infectious, antiseptic, calmative, carminative, digestive, nervine, sedative, spasmolytic
Therapeutic uses: Gastrointestinal spasm, nausea, upset stomach, rheumatism, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, muscular injury, menstrual cramp, insomnia, restlessness, nervousness, tension
Blends well with: Basil linalol, bay (West Indian), bergamot, cananga, cardamom, carnation, clary sage, coriander seed, galbanum, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, jasmine, lavandin, lemon, lemongrass, lime, mandarin, marjoram (sweet), may chang, neroli, orange (sweet), petitgrain, rose absolute, ylang ylang
Precautionary advice: Best avoided during pregnancy and while breast-feeding. GRAS status.