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Killing yourself with nutmeg

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You will not enjoy it, and you could easily hurt yourself.

I am quite fond of nutmeg, and I use it regularly in my cooking.  With this being the Christmas season, I'm drinking eggnog; probably more than I should, judging by its nutritional profile.  To this, of course, I add nutmeg.

Perhaps too much nutmeg.  Tonight I decided to have a cup full and began grating a nutmeg into it.  Soon the cup contained half a grated nutmeg.  I stirred it, added a small splash of brandy, and began sipping it.  Halfway through the cup it occurred to me that this could be a very dumb idea: I knew nutmeg could be hallucinogenic or toxic in relatively small quantities (neither of which effects I wanted), but I had no idea what "small" meant.  A gram?  10 grams?  50 grams?  I put down the eggnog and performed a Google search for "ld50 nutmeg".  LD50 is a term that denotes the fatal level of consumption for fifty percent of the population (that is, if you have a group of one hundred people and give each of them the LD50 of a substance, around fifty of them will die.)  A very cool article debunking nutritional toxicology scares (showing that "natural" ingredients could be far more hazardous than "artificial" ingredients) that I read four years ago got me convinced that the LD50s of many common substances are well within reach.

So, to begin with, how much had I injested?  I had three nutmegs left, and weighed them on the finest-precision scale available to me, my postal scale.  The three nutmegs came in at a third of an ounce (or around 10 grams) total.  That meant that each nutmeg was a little over 3 grams, half a nutmeg was between 1.5 and 2 grams, and half a cup of eggnog containing half a nutmeg delivered under a gram of nutmeg, total.  I found a webpage that read "Even though there have been cases of narcosis and collapse with just one whole nutmeg, people universally use nutmeg as food seasoning."  This was not particularly good news.  The next source was also not very positive (intriguingly, this is from a book entitled Legal Highs: A Concise Encyclopedia of Legal Herbs and Chemicals with Psychoactive Properties by one Adam Gottlieb, self-proclaimed 20th Century Alchemist.  This is an interesting counterpoint to my position: I'm trying to make sure that I didn't do something very stupid and injest dangerous amounts of a substance while using it for flavoring, while there are apparently people who want to know if they can use it as a psychotropic drug without injesting dangerous amounts.)

"Possible nausea during first hour; may cause vomiting or diarrhea in isolated cases. Takes anywhere from one to five hours for effects to set in. Then expect severe  cottonmouth, flushing of skin, severely bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils. [...] "Intense sedation". Impaired speech and motor functions. Hallucinations uncommon in average (5-10 gm) doses. Generally followed by long, deep, almost coma-like sleep (expect 16 hours of sleep afterward) and feelings of lethargy after sleep. [...] Safrole is carcinogenic and toxic to the liver."

So, bad things can happen, and I was unsure how exactly to interpret this paragraph.  "Hallucinations are uncommon in average [...] doses", but what about the other effects?  Common?  Do they set in at a lower threshold than the hallucination?  The final source I found said this:

"The perceptible dose is 5 to 15 grams (1 to 3 ground nutmeg seeds). It is a carminative in a dose of 0.03 mL. It is used as a hallucinogen in doses of 2-4 teaspoonfuls or greater than 2 whole nutmeg or 18 grams of fresh ground nutmeg. Effects begin in 3 to 6 hours but may be delayed 8 hours after ingestion and the duration is up to 60 hours. Effects are similar to LSD. Toxicity produces dry mouth, GI upset, abdominal pain, agitation, tremors, feeling of impending doom, delirium, psychosis, and coma. It is reported to produce miosis or mydriasis, hypothermia, hypotension. Cardiovascular effects including chest pain, palpitations and mild hypertension have been reported. One fatality reported in an 8 year old boy who ingested 14 grams was reported in 1908. Severe reactions with shock, hypotension, cyanosis and hypothermia may occur with very large amounts ."  I had to look up carminative, miosis, and mydriasis, by the way.

OK, we finally have a definition of the perceptible dose, which is a factor of 4 to 12 above what I injested.  So it looks like I'm in the clear, although this safety margin is significantly lower than I would like.

Do we need a moral here?  Don't be an idiot like me: many herbs and spices contain dangerous chemicals in significant amounts.  Significant increases in their culinary usage should probably be investigated before ingestion, not after.

27 Responses to Killing yourself with nutmeg

  1. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Nutritional toxicology

  2. n/a says:

    Hi, i would agree with nearly everything in this article, i have tried Nutmeg before about a month ago, im 16. The reason why i did it was becuase it was legal to buy, it was said to give such effects of the drug 'speed', LSD, and it seems like everyones writen statements of the effect where all nealry different. Me and my mate brought 25grams of nutmeg which was 5 whole nutmegs (fresh) each containing 5grams each. my friend grinded all of the nutmeg up, and the next day, at lunch time, we both consumed (ramdom tablespoon amounts) problery 5 grams.

    The method we used was mix the fresh grinded nutmeg in water, stir, then down the drink as fast as possible. At the time, i was shaking becuase i wasn't really sure what was going to happen to me. We timed it right that in 6 hours time (which at the time we had read it takes to kick in) would be the time we were out at night walking and talking to the streets. After we got back from school, we both took some more Nutmeg, this time i problery did 5-7grams, this time i neally puked.

    Very quickly my eyes becasue blood shotted, and quite dry, and so was my mouth and throut.

    Me and my friend then watched "fear and loathing to las vagas" which at the time fully mucked up my head, as the nutmeg made me quite dizzy (not sick dizzy) and really tired. The film lasted for ages it seemed. I only slightly remember  going out of the house, and some main parts on our adventure in our city. My imagination was over the limit, this one point, on a shop wall, there were like lines on it, and my friends told me that i was saying that i thought it was a gun point, where in the second world war, they used to shoot out of  at the tanks on the other side of the road. It all got slightly weird after that, can't rememeber, but at the time i was having fun. 

    Some how we got home, we walked home some time pffft... dunno, and i rememeber just sitting on the arm chair, and when i closed my eyes, it felt that  my body was moving, not me thinking im moving, but i kept werving side to side, and i couldn't stop my self.

    I woke up next morning,  we the suprise that i though i didn't go to bed, i felt fine lining in bed, but as i got out, my whole face went complete num. It was the weirdest feeling EVER. i didn't eat or drink much as my friend stated that you don't want to eat/drink much incase it has a chemical reaction to nutmeg. So i couldn't sick, so i didn't feel sick.

    My experiance of nutmeg was alright, as that if i got court by the police, then they couldn't arrest me becuase they would of though i that i have been taking weed or something, but no its nutmeg.

    Im not sure if i will take it agian, the good thing about it that it makes your feel weird, its legal, cheap and you don't smoke it...

    the BAD things about it is that the effects are still vary with people to people, some people have been in coma's becuase of it, had fits, Nutmeg is a poison too at high levels, the dye eyes and mouth was quite irratating, but i could of got some eye drops or something.

    To be honest, who ever reads this, i don't think you should take Nutmeg, just leave it out, it's not worth the pain for the effect it gives. I tierd it becuase well, im slightly stupid, but i have that "i've tried it, and got high off it" under my belt.

    Just like to point out that im not a druggy, i have only taken one puff of weed before, it was stupid, becuase the effect was limited, i got drunk twice, and thats with a 2 year gap, so now you know where you stand with the nutmeg. Becuase my other mate, who is quite into his shit took 25 grams of Nutmeg, and it had no effect on him,  im not sure that the shit he has taken got his body up a level which shitty drugs like Nutmeg just doesn't make an effect or was it his size, i don't know, but its not worht the coma.

    so my english is not up to standards, but i thought i would share my expericance online to other who are thinking about nutmeg. Hope you learnt something from me and if you want any questions just email me and, thanks

  3. Cassie says:

    Hey is it anything like Trilpe-C

  4. Cassie says:

    (Coricidin Cough and Cold)

  5. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Nutritional toxicology

  6. dude says:


    U need to chill out.  Its just nutmeg.  You'll have to eat like 25g or maybe 8-10 whole nuts to make yourself really get physically ill or 'trip balls' if thats what you're into.

    On to that other post....

    Watching fear and loathing while tripping, like watching any movie while tripping, seems kind of silly to me.  Once I was on mushrooms and watched Star Wars Episode was a waste of time and felt very plastic and artificial as an experience.  Vision quests are to be a self-driven experience, possibly with a friend or shaman as a guide.  Being led around through someone else's plot line might get you confused or upset, or worse; you might waste a good opportunity to grow spiritually. 

    (one exception may be Dark Side of Oz or other video/music combinations, since you get to take away from it whatever metaphors work best for you personally.)

    I think if people want to trip on nutmeg and approach it patiently, cautiously at initially low doses, they should.

  7. Moeeeeeeee says:

    i took about 7 table spoon of it in about 4 hours ..
    my experience was beyond what i read on the internet ...
    my trip was SOO intense and severe ... that ... i can proudly say that the the English language limits my explanation of it

    i suggest non of you take this stupid ussles drugg
    and just stick to cronic ...  aka pot ...

    its better .. funner ... easier to get into the blood and  everyone knows it and does it

  8. Pingback: Killing While Tripping - Dogpile Web Search

  9. Pingback: if you injest safrole will you feel good - Web - WebCrawler

  10. emma says:

    i ate maybe 1 nut after drinking one night and woke up the next morning after sleeping 12 hours in the worst state.  i was in the washroom guzzling water and couldn't throw up or go to the bathroom.  i was boiling hot and feverish.  i woke up on the bathroom floor with a huge bruise on my head.  i just read the side effects and they were bang on.  bad idea..

  11. johncy says:

    me and my 3rd oldest brother dont get along. he hates me because i'm the screw-up in the family and he's the good guy but my parents and other brothers love and respect me more because i stoped all the evil ways to get a good career, so i could help out my parents with their house. my 3rd oldest brother been cooking everyday for the family for the last month and a half. everything he cooks smells great and tastes good,but he doesn't eat himself. we been getting into alot of pretty bad fights for the last 4 to 5 months. everyone in my family been getting pretty sick in the last month, but him. ever since he's been cooking i have seen him grind up 1 or 2 whole pieces of nutmeg into every dish. my 3rd oldest brother met up with this new friend of his a.k.a. his meth dealer about 3 months ago but doesn't know that his new friend was once one of my crime'meez. my old crime'mee called me and told me to watch out for my brother because he smoked out my brother and my brother told him he was ploting to poison someone

  12. Featherz says:

    We can do stupid things in our life. Like me, I ate like, 3 tablespoons of ground nutmeg and I didn't know how dangerous it could be. I'm 14.

    I guess at first it hadn't started to effect me because about an hour later I went to bed and slept normally. I wonder if being asleep helped reduce the effects of it? Didn't seem like it, I woke up feeling awful but didn't have a care in the world. Except that I was going out shopping with my mother, but I just laughed at myself and continued trying to make myself feel better. I drank A LOT. I mean, like, 16 glasses of water. Maybe more. But that's because of the damage being done to my kidneys.

    So I went out shopping with my mum, I couldn't help but tell her about what I did and how I felt. I can trust her very well. I looked in the mirror, my eyes were bloodshot and I felt drowsy but not really lethargic. My speech was extremely impaired, I felt like being drunk and having a double hangover at the same time.

    Apart from my communication difficulties I performed pretty well.

    At the end of the day (I was home alone) and I was still drinking large amounts of water but I was feeling noticeably better every few hours. I was feeling anxious and shivering and shaking a bit before my mother had phoned me. She googled the effects of nutmeg (trusting her) and read what I didn't see before. She told me that I would have to go to the hospital, and with a lot of worry and frustration I gave in to the fact that I should see someone. So, the ambulance came and they had no idea about the toxic effects of nutmeg. They were just like "Nutmeg, isn't that a spice?" so they phoned the poison center and took me to the hospital (dumbasses, well I guess I'm not one to talk).

    I had a very high heart rate but my blood test results were fine, I was very happy with that. After being on a drip for the long and nearly sleepless night everything was back to normal. I actually felt great after the drip so everything turned out to be a positive experience in the end. I don't suggest you do it though because it could be even more serious.

    It would have still damaged my organs and had some long term effects. I'm not sure if I should worry greatly about the fact that I regularly feel short of breath, that's what I'm trying to find information about.

  13. nuttynat says:

    ok well personally i think this is shit. I read that nutmeg can make u high blah blah.. so yesterday i grated 2 whole fresh nutmegs and mixed it with a vanilla and honey smoothie.. it tastes lovely.. anyways i didnt get high at all.. felt mild nausea, and then i fell asleep and for most of the day i stayed asleep.. and then through the night until 10am this morning.. i didnt feel any hallucinations or anything like a trip.. i just felt tired and thats it.. well i have loads of aches and pains and im not producing any salvia so when i swallow its literally air which is makin my throat incredibly dry n sore.. its a load of crap!

  14. I don't know how I can be clearer about this, but: there are much safer highs.  Even though the subject of my post was culinary usage, I cannot stress enough that this is toxic, and should be avoided in dosages recommended for recreational use.  Please be careful, everyone, and I wish visitors would read this page before they start ingesting large amounts.

  15. anynomous says:

    Fun fact: Nutmeg is a weak MAOI. So for all of those thinking about cheap legal high... Avoid cheese.

  16. Fun fact: Nutmeg is a weak MAOI.

    Huh.  Thank you.  I had no idea.

    Two things for the readers:

    1.  MAOIs are monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which I (unfortunately) know as someone who has been treated for depression for more than a decade.  This suppresses a liver enzyme necessary to metabolize a chemical that can have toxic effects when it builds up in your system, and can be found in cheese (as mentioned), chocolate, and red wine -- but if you're likely to be eating nutmeg as a high, you're unlikely to have legal access to red wine, either.  Seriously, you can fuck yourself up.

    2.  You know what else can fuck you up?  Trying to get high on nutmeg.  Gah.  Find a real hallucinogen, OK?  If you're scared of being locked up for the safest hallucinations (cannabis), go to a drugstore and buy generic "Tussin" capsules -- cough suppressants.  As a first-order approximation, anything that can suppress a cough reflex is going to be extremely pleasant to abuse, and while I'm not interested in the legal liability for derailing teenagers from the spice cabinet to FDA-approved cough therapies -- I want to take this moment to derail teenagers from the spice cabinet to FDA-approved cough therapies.  NB: Not the under-the-sink cabinet, either.  Just be sure to clear 36 hours from your schedule.  Yes, your parents will be able to tell if you've taken handfuls of DXM capsules, but they'll be able to tell when you've taken large amounts of nutmeg and you (literally) start psychotically attacking everyone around you because you (literally) think the world is about to end.  Or if you decide to huff, and they find you dead.  Guys, this is not a joke.  You get only one body, OK?

  17. You will not enjoy your attempted high, and you can easily hurt yourself.

  18. nicoman says:

    Overall, I have tried getting high on nutmeg three times.
    The first one was as described earlier by everyone, I have slept for 12-14 hours. After waking up my skin was incredibly pale, but I didn't have any other side-effects. Nor did I experience any positive effects.
    The second time I tried nutmeg nothing had happened.
    The third time I was experimenting with nutmeg, the way I felt was almost the same as being cross-faded (under influence of alcohol & cannabis). I felt incredible happiness, almost euphory, I felt deliriant, everything slowed down, my sense of hearing increased. I normally went to sleep after being high for over 4 hours and the next day after normally waking up I still felt the effects. However, the whole time I suffered from incredibly sore throat and had moderate 'munchies', but it didn't seem to bother me at all.
    I have also read that one shouldnt mix nutmeg with alcohol. The author of the original post drinks eggnog and brandy during the ingestion of nutmeg. Maybe that's why the effects were so unpleasant?

  19. says:

    Original post author here!  I did not have negative effects.  I was not trying to get high on nutmeg.  I was just pouring a holiday beverage, and worried about toxic levels.  And I stopped drinking it when I decided to research the LD50.  I really wish people would read this more carefully, but I expect people who try to get high on cabinet spices are not the best-skilled in reading comprehension.

    @nicoman:  You seem to be experienced in psychotropics.  Would you recommend nutmeg as a recreational drug?  Would you recommend it over cannabis?  No way, right?

    But.  For.  Every.  Teen.  And.  Other.  Young.  Person.  Here.  Neither "Hey, I did this and lolz I was fine chill out" nor "Dude I took this and got soooooo fucking sick zOMG" are as important as recognizing the actual, clinical dosage of a substance that can hurt or kill you.  I'm not an anti-drug stick in the mud who's trying to keep you from having fun.  But drug use is medicine, and medicine is chemistry, and chemistry works better if you bother to understand stuff first.  Graveyards are laden with people who thought "Oh, I'm sure this'll be OK!"

    Things to keep in mind:  The level of psychotropic compounds in various bottles and preparations of nutmeg vary widely.  People's livers differ widely.  A guy named Aaron might take five bottles of Brand A and not get high nor sick.  Another guy named Brent might swallow two nuts and end up in the E.R., possibly with liver failure.

    This is not propaganda.  These are not scare tactics.  Get high.  I don't give a fuck.  Actually, I think it's a good thing, when done right.  And, yes, it's beyond fucked up that marijuana is illegal but downing nutmeg is allowed.  But there has never been a documented fatality (kids, that means "something that kills you") from weed, and there have from nutmeg.  Don't choose nutmeg.  As @Moeeeeeeee wrote, get some pot.

  20. bebert says:

    all of u wrong, to try nnutmeg u shoult mix it whit banana aple and milk. that takes away the bad efects of the drug, Chek yogi bajan and numeg for more information.

  21. ell says:

    About 8-9 years ago when I was 13-14 years old, I tried nutmeg with my friend. I consumed 2,5 nutmegs and I can say...HUGEE MISTAKE!. It kicked in about 6 hours later and I felt very hot and dry. My eyes were red and I couldn't stand ,so I went to bed.My vision was blurry and I was constantly in between concsious and dreamlike state.I felt sick and started talking nonsense to myself. Then at somepoint my little dog jumped on the bed and it felt like a concrete wall fell on the bed.I looked at my dog and I heard it ask" are you okay?". So i kind of realised that it was unreal situation and i must be hallucianting.From there on I had the constant fear that "im going to die" because it felt sooo bad. I think i passed out and woke up 15 hours later. To my praents i told that I was sick,when probably i should have gone to the hospital. I seriously recommend to NOT EXPERIMENT with nutmeg. Its a very unpredictable and unpleasant substance, very bad for liver because of the toxines.And ofcourse the hangover can last for a week.

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  24. liam charter says:

    i used to do nutmeg like 6 times a month for about 2 years and i enjoyed it i did and nutmeg DOES NOT KILL. there is no record of death of nutmeg (except one which was a young child) and there no prove it does kill so dont believe this myth. but i do believe that nutmeg can damage your liver but you need to take a very large does. i used to do it for 2 years (im not proud of it) and my average does each time was about 30-40g and i always had very pleasant effect . i have notice after a couple of time trying it you don't get a hangover the next day which i find a bit weird. nutmeg as not done no damage to me at all but it does damage ur liver so please be safe when using it and do your research before trying. To be honest there need to be more research on nutmeg due to lack of information but there one thing i know that NUTMEG DO NOT KILL

  25. Dom says:

    Thresholds from person to person vary greatly.
    Confirmed. This is poison and hardly pleasant at all.
    Maybe it´s good (for health / mood) in VERY low doses. Everything is a poison in a high enough amount, so can good things be bad.
    For me 3-4 pinches were enough to get me to sleep for several days, not fun at all, just a waste of time. The dreams were more vivid though, sort of entertaining dreamworld. Nothing very special I´d like to repeat.
    "Similar to LSD" is a pale comparison. Nutmeg is a weak adversary to all other safer & funnier alternatives that CAN get you high, in a much cleaner way.

  26. Tyra says:

    I wasacturalky trying to fi d a painless way to kill myself, thank you for the deets.

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