Does Nutmeg Make You High?
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Posted by Eric Troy on 05 May 2016 21:13

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Before you begin reading about nutmeg, I am assuming that you are not here looking for information on how to get high and that you are not interested in using recreational drugs. This site does not promote the abuse of drugs, even if they are "legal." This article is for education purposes only, intended for the curious. It is not instructional or even remotely to be seen as promoting drug-use! Now, on with some very interesting information about that common household spice, nutmeg.

Nutmeg is great in warm milk, as a spice in pumpkin pie, and a little bit in a bechamel goes a long way.

It's similar to other spices such as cinnamon and cloves, sharing some of the same terpenes, but it has a unique flavor all its own.

Like any spice, it's got some strong chemicals in it.

Some creative stoners may tell you it will get you high. And not just high but very high, producing hallucinogenic effects. It is supposedly a psychedelic drug you can get from the grocery store spice aisle (but you would be stupid to try to use it, as you'll find out if you keep reading!)

Sounds a bit far-fetched, don't you think?

Let's examine the reality behind these rumors about nutmeg.

Yes, nutmeg gets you high. It's not a rumor. It does. Nutmeg produces a high similar to mescaline, actually, the active drug in peyote. Peyote was long used by certain Native American peoples to obtain a mind-altering hallucinatory experience…a very spiritual experience. Like LSD, you trip. And that experience is unique to the user and influenced by the setting.


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Nutmeg itself was introduced to Europe by the Arabs as a drug. As a recreational drug, it is chewed or snuffed along with tobacco. The small amount we use in cooking has no appreciable effect on the body.

It takes a very large amount to make you high, at least 1 to 2 full teaspoons of the stuff, which is a LOT. The chemical responsible for these effects seems to be myristicin.

Nutmeg is the seed from the fruit of the Myristica tree. Mace also contains myristicin and this makes sense as mace comes from the same tree and is derived from the lacy membrane around the seed.

If you get enough of the active chemical, it produces a time-dilation effect, visual distortions, and a sense of detachment from reality.

Researchers have tried to figure out how this chemical produces these effects. It may directly affect the body by binding to the same receptors that psychedelic drugs bind to. Or, it may undergo a change in the liver to another hallucinatory substance.

Some research has indicated that myristicin is converted in the liver to a psychedelic amphetamine called MMDA. But, other studies seem to show that it's converted into other non-hallucinogenic compounds.

These studies, of course, were not carried out in humans. They were done on rodents or were simply ex vivo experiments.

So, nutmeg makes you high and gets you trippin, but we don't know exactly how.

The question then, is, why aren't many people using it? One reason is that you have to use so much, which is unpleasant in itself. As well, it takes so long to get the effect, up to 2 to 5 hours.

The biggest reason is that the amount needed to produce the high produces a host of extremely unpleasant side-effects. We're talking nausea, vomiting, severe headache, rapid heartbeat, and unpleasant sensory distortions. After it's all done you have the worst hangover ever.

If you take enough or are sensitive to it, these side effects can send you to the emergency room!

You really don't want to try this at home. So don't. Just because we use herbs and spices in our foods do not think that some of them cannot severely injure you if you ingest too much.

They contain active chemicals and we do not always know the potential effects of large amounts.

So, don't do drugs, and don't do nutmeg! Unless, of course, you use it in small amounts in foods. Nutmeg packs a heck of a punch in cooking. Its flavor is so strong that too much will overwhelm pretty much any dish. However, a tiny amount adds a punch of interest and helps bring out other flavors.

© 2016 by Eric Troy and CulinaryLore. All Rights Reserved. Please contact for permissions.