Medicinal benefits of Nutmeg | Myristica fragrans Houtt

Medicinal benefits of Nutmeg | Myristica fragrans Houtt

Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt) is one of the commodities which highly economic value, Indonesia is a major producer and supplier needs nutmeg and mace nutmeg. 80% of the world nutmeg from Indonesia, 20% from Grenada and the rest from Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago( as up to 2016)

Medicinal benefits of Nutmeg | Myristica fragrans Houtt

However the reality Indonesian nutmeg commodity prices is quite low, because the low quality of nutmeg, about 55% of the seeds with the quality of BWP (Broken Wormy Punky) and mace with Broken II quality that reaches 77%. Efforts to increase the sale value of BWP quality nutmeg can be done by processing nutmeg into essential oils, nutmeg’s oleoresin, and nutmeg butter.

Botanical Description

Common Name: Nutmeg

Scientific Name: Myristica fragrans Houtt.

Botanical Family: Myristicaceae (nutmeg)

Myristica fragrans Houtt. (Nutmeg) of the family Myristiceae is a spice seed from the fruit of an evergreen tree called M. fragrans Houtt. tree (Gils and Cox, 1994). Both M. fragrans (nutmeg) and mace (its sister spice) are native to tropical Asia and Australia. Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, while mace is the dried “lacy” reddish covering on the seed. Nutmeg and mace taste similar though nutmeg is sweeter in flavour and mace more delicate

Medicinal benefits of Nutmeg

Antiangiogenic Activity

Compounds like myristicin, limonene, eugenol and terpinen-4-ol of nutmeg essential oil attribute antiangiogenic activity. Myristicin have been reported to induce cytotoxicity in human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells by mean of apoptotic mechanism (Lee BK et al

., 2005).

D-limonene is a chemo preventive agent in hepatocellular carcinoma models(Parija T et al., 2000., DK Patel et al., 2010 and terpinen-4-ol and Eugenol showed that they can induce apoptosis in human melanoma cells(Calcabrini A et al., 2004) (Hussain A et al 2009).


Extracts of nutmeg showed antimicrobial activity against gram positive (Bacillus subtilis and S. aureus) Orabi et al., 1991; De et al., 1999; Dorman and Deans, 2000, gram negative (Pseudomonas putida and P. aeruginosa) bacteria and pathogenic fungi (Aspergillus fumigatus, A. niger and A. flavus) .Ethanol extract of fresh, seed and mace of Myristica fragrans is a classic remedy for the periodontal diseases that occurs by accumulation of Actinomyces viscosus, Porphyromonas gingivalis, Streptococcus mutans and streptococcus sanguis in the form of an adherent plaque (Zaleha Shafiei 2012) these properties are attributed by myristin and triglyceride Trimyristin


Anti-oxidant properties has been determined by the ferric reducing antioxidant power and trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (Tan KP et al 2013). Anti-oxidant property of nutmeg is contributed by various phytochemicals, mainly vitamins, carotenoids, terpenoids, alkaloids, flavonoids, lignans, simple phenols and phenolic acids (Tan KP et al 2013),caffic acid and catechin (Shan B2005)(Gowri Pendyalan et al.,2008)


Since 18th century, the spice is being used to treat male sexual dysfunctions it is clinically proved by Orabi et al., 2000 (Tajuddin et al. 2005).


Triglyceride Trimyristin of nutmeg oil shows anti-inflammatory properties and is used as local message to reduce muscular pain and rheumatic pain of joints (Pamphona-Roger, 1999).It reduces joint swelling and treats rheumatic fever (Duke and Edward, 1985; Ernest, 2002).

Antidiabetic activity

Macelignan present in the seeds enhanced the insulin sensitivity and improved lipid metabolic disorders by activating peroxisome proliferator receptor and attenuating endoplasmic reticulum stress, suggesting that it is an ant diabetic agent for the treatment of type 2 diabetes (Han et al., 2008).

Dental Care

Eugenol of nutmeg relieves from toothache (Duke et al., 2002; Kokwaro 2009), prevents bad breath (Barceloux, 2009)

Memory enhancing activity

Parle et al. (2004) have investigated the effect of M. fragrans seeds on learning capabilities and memory level in mice. Administration of the n-hexane extract of M. fragrans at the lowest dose of 5 mg/kg body weight for 3 successive days significantly improved the learning and memory level of young and aged mice.

The extract said to have reversed scopolamine and diazepam-induced impairment in learning and memory of young mice. The observed memory enhancing effect of M. fragrans may be attributed to a variety of properties (individually or in combination) such as antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or procholinergic activity.


The decoction of the nutmeg is used for the treatment of flatulence, nausea and vomiting (Kurian, 2010).External application of the oil relieves the stomach pain. Freshly prepared decoction with honey has been used to relief of nausea, gastritis and indigestion ailment (Doman et al., 2000).

Heart Functioning

Nutmeg proves to be an excellent tonic for the cardiovascular system. It increases the blood circulation and stimulates the heart functions (Balick and Paul, 2000).


Essential oils of nutmeg possess antifungal properties against Colletotrichum gloeosporoides, Colletotrichum musae, Fusarium oxysporum , Fusarium semitectum , Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus glaucus (V. Pooja .,2012)


Nutmeg is helpful in clearing up the congestion resulting from cold and thus, is widely used in cough syrups. It’s even helpful in aroma therapy (Gill, 1992; Iwu, 1993).


Nutmeg is said have good carminative properties (Seenivasan et al., 2006)


Morita et al. (2003) have reported that myristicin from M. fragrans (nutmeg) possessed most potent hepatoprotective activity to rats with liver damage induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) plus D-galactosamine (D-GalN). It was reported that myristicin markedly suppressed LPS/D-GalN-induced enhancement of serum TNF-alpha concentrations and hepatic DNA fragmentation in mice.

These findings suggest that the hepatoprotective activity of myristicin may be, at least in part, due to the inhibition of TNF-alpha release from macrophages. Sohn et al. (2008) observed that the hepatoprotective effects of macelignan, isolated from M. fragrans is related to activation of the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, especially JNK and c-Jun.



Nutmeg seeds increase the levels of serotonin that brings the relaxation of the body.(Pandey, 2005).


Extracts of nutmeg suppressed the growth of human lymphoid leukaemic cells, Molt 4 B (Moteki et al. 2002). Myristicin, present in the volatile oil of M. fragrans is a potential cancer chemo preventive agent (Zheng et al., 1992). The essential oil is reported to modulate the formation of DNA adducts by aflatoxinin vitro (Hashim et al., 1994). The dihydroguaiaretic acid from M. fragrans mace suppressed leukaemic cells, colon cancer and lung cancer cells in vitro (Park et al., 1998).

The mace of M. fragrans protected from bone marrow genotoxicity in male Swiss albino mice (Kumari 1992). It also significantly protected from methylcholanthrene-induced carcinogenesis in uterine cervix of mice (Hussain and Rao 1991) and had chemo preventive effects on dimethylbenz anthracene (DMBA)-induced papillo-magenesis in the skin of mouse (Jannu et al. 1991).



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