Nutmeg evokes memories of the fall. We associate the pungent spice with pumpkin pie or perhaps hot cider. Maybe we like a dash in our coffee.
For centuries, the Chinese have used it for digestive health. In the Middle Ages, it was used to treat Black Death. It turns out that the essential oils in nutmeg repel the fleas that carry the plague.1
But nutmeg may also have a place in modern medicine. A new study shows that it can restore liver health.
Chinese scientists tested nutmeg in mice whose had chemically induced liver damage that mimics human liver disease. They took baseline readings of liver function. After introducing nutmeg, they repeated their analysis.2
Nutmeg Helps Your Liver Work Better
The researchers found that the nutmeg quickly restored the mice’s levels of compounds called acylcarnitines. They are protective substances that prevent liver disease in both mice and humans.
Acylcarnitines increase the liver’s ability to break down and get rid of waste products and toxins.
The researchers discovered that a bioactive compound in nutmeg called myrislignan was largely responsible for the improved liver health. The compound seemed to cause the genes controlling liver cells to more efficiently metabolize toxins.3
When researchers removed these genes from liver cells, the nutmeg treatment had no effect.4
The study concluded, “This data demonstrates that nutmeg alleviates liver injury.”
The research was led by the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing. It recently was published in The Journal of Proteome Research.
Getting Nutmeg into Your Diet
Nutmeg is the seed of the Myristica fragrans tree. It is native to Indonesia. For better liver health, simply put a small amount of nutmeg in your food or drink.
But don’t go overboard… Nutmeg can be toxic at doses starting at 2 teaspoons. So make sure you keep your intake well below that level.5
Pregnant women should avoid nutmeg in any amount. In medieval times, nutmeg was used to induce abortions.6
And you’ll want to be careful if you’re taking blood thinners, tranquilizers, or muscle relaxants. Nutmeg can amplify the effects of these drugs.7