Nutmeg (Rou Dou Kou)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, so only a little needs to be used medicinally or as a spice. 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, where it is commonly used 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 Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Sedating, Warming, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, Digestive, Antiparasitic. 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 TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Warms the Spleen and Stomach/Promotes the Circulation of Qi: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, gas due to cold in the Middle Jiao (Triple Warmer). Stimulates the Stomach/Binds the Intestines: diarrhea, support digestion, increase appetite. Moves Blood/Relieve Pain: aches and pains associated with blood stasis, such as arthritic pain and other rheumatic conditions.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

Derived from several trees, Myristica fragrans, is an evergreen tree that can grow to be 30- 60 feet tall. Its oval leaves can be up to 10 inches long, the flowers are both male and female. The trees bears flowers and fruit year-round. The trees have a greyish-brown bark that is full of yellow juice. The branches spread in whorls. The fruit is a pendulous, globose drupe. The tree will not bloom until it is 7-9 years old and will then bear fruit for up to 75 years.

Native to Indonesia.

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 halucinations, 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 you to pass them 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.

Key Constituents:

Myristicin, Methanolic, Potassium, Calcium, Iron, Manganese, Essential oil (including Camphene, Terpinene, Limonene, Myrcene, Geraniol, Termineol, Eugenol).


Did you know?

A Perfume

The essential oil obtained from ground nutmeg is used in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries.


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.

Fun fact!

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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ATENCIÓN: Todo el material proporcionado en este sitio web es sólo con fines informativos o educativos. No es sustituto del consejo de su profesional de la salud o médico. Esté sano. Sea feliz. Siéntase completo. Sea libre.

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