Nutmeg (Rou Dou Kou)
Botanical Name: Myristica fragrans
Nutmeg is famous as a warming aromatic herb used in cooking. It is also a medicine. A little nutmeg goes a long way. Nutmeg isn’t really a nut, but a kernel of an apricot-like fruit. In China, it used more as a medicine than as a food to aid digestion and stop diarrhea.
Below is an overview of Nutmeg (Rou Dou Kou), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Nutmeg (Rou Dou Kou).
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Western Name: Nutmeg
Also Known As: N/A
Organs/Systems: Stomach, Large Intestine, Skin
Key Actions: Sedative, Warming, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, Digestive, Antiparasitic
Medicinal Uses: Pain, memory loss, bad breath, mouth sores, poor appetite bloating, kidney stones, skin, arthritic aches and pains.
Pin Yin: Rou Dou Kou
Also Known As: Translates as “fleshy cardomon.”
Meridians: Large Intestine, Spleen, Stomach
Key Actions: Warms the Spleen and Stomach, Promotes the Circulation of Qi, Stimulates the Stomach, Binds the Intestines, Moves Blood, Relieve Pain
Medicinal Uses: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, gas due to cold in the Middle Jiao (Triple Warmer), diarrhea, support digestion, increase appetite, aches and pains associated with blood stasis, such as arthritic pain and other rheumatic conditions.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Seed
Flavors/Temps: Pungent, Acrid, Warming
Caution: Safe, unless taken in large doses.
History/Folklore: Nutmeg is called Pala in Indonesia. The general name, nutmeg is actually used for several trees in the Myristica family of trees that grow in Indonesia. The nutmeg tree is unusual in that it is the source of two separate spices, nutmeg, and mace. Nutmeg is from the aril, which is the reddish seed covering. It takes 7-9 years for nutmeg trees to produce their first crop of nutmeg and 20 years before the trees are at their full production.
Until the mid-19th century, the Banda Islands (also known as the “Spice Islands”) in Indonesia, were the only location nutmeg was produced.
The red covering of the nutmeg seed is called mace and is a separate spice. It colors whatever food it is added to a bright orange and has a subtler flavor than nutmeg. Mace and nutmeg have the same medicinal properties.
Small, round, heavy nutmeg is the best quality. The larger, longer, lighter, drier, and less marbled seeds are inferior. Be aware there is a lot of fraud in the nutmeg industry. The best oil of nutmeg, or nutmeg butter is imported from the East Indies in stone jars.
The constituent myristicin is effective against Alzheimer’s and other memory-related conditions. In high doses it causes hallucinations, convulsions, palpitations and nausea. It is also an anti-inflammatory. The constituent methanolic is thought to help fight against certain leukemia cells.
Nutmeg is thought to remove toxins from the kidneys and the liver. Nutmeg may help remove kidney stones, allowing them to pass naturally.
Nutmeg is calming and mixed with warm milk or coconut milk can help you sleep.
In India, nutmeg is said to be an aphrodisiac and to increase sexual stamina.
Used in large doses nutmeg can be harmful to the fetus, and it was once used as an aborticant, even though large doses can be poisonous and toxic.
The essential oil is used in toothpastes, cough syrups and to treat nervous disorders and digestive system disorders.
Nutmeg butter is made from the nut. It is a reddish-brown color and tastes and smells like nutmeg.
Nutmeg seeds can be carried in the pocket to bring luck during games of chance. An old Creole spell recommends sprinkling nutmeg in a woman’s shoe at midnight as it will encourage her to fall deeply in love with you.
Drinking some nutmeg before meditation and divination can enhance clairvoyance and encourage visions.
One nutmeg will make about 3 teaspoons of grated nutmeg and will stay fresh for about three years. Avoid irradiated nutmeg as it breaks down the fatty acids that give nutmeg its aroma and flavor.
The Chinese use nutmeg to treat people suffering from pain or inflammation.
Nutmeg is one of the ingredients in the famous Chinese five-spice powder use in Chinese cuisine. The common mix contains: star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper and fennel seeds. Other recipes might contain ginger root, turmeric, cardamon seeds, orange peel or licorice. The spice is used as a rub for chicken, pork, duck or seafood.
Prized in Medieval Cuisine
Nutmeg was prized in medieval cuisine as a flavor, medicine, and preservative. Believed to ward off the plague, its price soared.
Toxic to Dogs
Nutmeg is toxic to dogs causing seizures, tremors, and nervous systems disorders that can be fatal. Eggnog and other foods with nutmeg should not be given to dogs.
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