Nutmeg Oil: Its Scientific Benefits and Drawbacks

The main use of Nutmeg oil is in flavor for food and beverages. Nutmeg oil can also be used in fragrance application. The major components of Nutmeg oil are terpene hydrocarbons (about 60-80%), such as sabinene, pinene, camphene, p-cymene, phellandrene, terpinene, limonene, and myrcene, while the aromatic ethers (myristicin, elemicin, safrole, eugenol, and eugenol derivatives) accounts for about 15% to 20%, and the oxygenated terpenes of the nutmeg essential oil (linalool, geraniol, and terpineol) accounts for about 5% to 15% [1].

Nutmeg Essential Oil

BENEFITS OF NUTMEG OIL


1. Powerful Antioxidant Activity to Fight Free Radicals


Nutmeg contains antioxidant compounds from its essential oil, phenolic compounds, and pigment [1]. Antioxidants are substance that can protect cells from free radical damage. Free radicals are unpaired molecules, therefore they are unstable and highly reactive. They can cause damage to cells and tissues in the body. Natural antioxidants in body are overwhelmed by these excess free radicals, triggering oxidative stress and contributing to cellular functional damage. When free radicals react with DNA components, they can cause gene mutations that trigger cancer. Consuming antioxidant in regular basis can help keep the free radical levels under control [2]. It is reported that the aromatic ring in Nutmeg oil, such as terpene-4-ol, elemicin, and eugenol, may increase the antioxidant activity [9].

Source: https://greatist.com/health/free-radicals#free-radicals-defined


2. Relieve Pain due to Anti-Inflammatory Properties


Nutmeg is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds, such as sabinene, terpineol, and pinene which are included in the monoterpene group. Pigments and phenolic compounds found in nutmeg (α-pinene and β-pinene) are also useful for overcoming inflammation [1] [4].

Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5222521/


3. Relax Nerves to Prevent Insomnia


Nutmeg oil has warm and soothing aroma that can relieve tension and induce a relaxing feeling. It can help create a calming and relaxing atmosphere which may improve sleep [4].


4. Fight Bad Breath and Oral Bacteria


Nutmeg oil has a sweet taste and smells good. This is why it is often used in oral breath freshener products. Moreover, Nutmeg, which has antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, has been shown to be able to fight oral bacteria, including halitosis or bad breath [6] [7]. One study also shows that Nutmeg oil has a positive effect to Streptococcus mutants and Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans which cause cavities and gum diseases. One of the Nutmeg oil components that has this antimicrobial activity is sabinene [8].


5. Active ingredients in skincare


The anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties of Nutmeg oil can be quite effective in fighting skin bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas putida [8]. In addition, the antioxidant properties of nutmeg are good for preventing skin damage or skin cancer caused by the sun. Other compounds of Nutmeg oil such as macelignan and lycarin E can help lowering levels of MMP-1 (matrix metalloproteinases-1), an enzyme that breaks down extracellular matrix and reduces signs of skin aging [9].


DRAWBACKS OF NUTMEG OIL


Unfortunately, Nutmeg oil is not perfect. Nutmeg oil contains some compounds that may have a negative effect when consume in excess. Here are some drawbacks of Nutmeg oil:


1. Hallucinogenic effects in high dose

Myristicin and elemicin in nutmeg and its oil are believed to cause hallucinogenic effects. This effect is followed by other unpleasant after effects, from hypertension, dry mouth, feelings of euphoria, unreality, delirium until tachycardia because both compounds can undergo metabolic conversion to compounds that are similar to amphetamine [7].


However, this effect will only occur when a person consumes a large dose of myristicin, at least 400 mg myristicin or 10-15 grams of Nutmeg. Nutmeg oil contains high concentration of myristicin, between 6-14% (average 9%), while elemicin is only about 1.5% of the Nutmeg oil [8].


Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5222521/


2. Genotoxic ad carcinogenic compounds

The Committee of experts on Flavoring Substances (CEFS, 1997) states that safrole (one of the compounds in nutmeg oil) is a weak hepatocarcinogen in rodents. Moreover, safrole, about 1-4% in nutmeg oil, is also genotoxic and carcinogenic [9, 10, 11]. This is because in the human body, safrole is oxidized to carcinogenic substance, which is 1-hidroxysafrole. Therefore, the maximum limit for safrole consumption in the European Commission (2002) is set to 1 mg/day [12]. Meanwhile, IFRA (International Fragrance Association) recommends the essential oils containing safrole should not be used if the concentration reaches 0.01% in consumer products. Because of that, consumer would need to be careful, especially when using Indian nutmeg oil, which has safrole up to 3.3% [13].


Another carcinogen in Nutmeg oil is methyl eugenol which is about 0.09% - 0.77% [9, 10]. Therefore, methyl eugenol levels in essential oil used in personal care products are up to 0.01% in fragrance, 0.04% in eau de toilette, 0.02% in a fragrance cream, and 0.0002% in other leave on products and oral hygiene products [14].


If you have any question, please contact us here or email us at info@ptmitraayu.com.


References

[1] Abourashed, E.A. and El-Alfy, A.T., 2016. Chemical diversity and pharmacological significance of the secondary metabolites of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt.). Phytochemistry Reviews, 15(6), pp.1035-1056.

[2] Zalukhu, M.L., Phyma, A.R. and Pinzon, R.T., 2016. Proses Menua, Stres Oksidatif, dan Peran Anti Oksidan. Cermin Dunia Kedokteran, 43(10), pp.733-736.

[3] Piaru SP, Mahmud R, Abdul Majid AM, Ismail S, Man CN. Chemical composition, antioxidant and cytotoxicity activities of the essential oils of Myristica fragrans and Morinda citrifolia. J Sci Food Agric. 2012;92:593–597.

[4] https://dupischai.com/nutmeg-health-benefits/

[5] Gupta, A.D., Bansal, V.K., Babu, V. and Maithil, N., 2013. Chemistry, antioxidant and antimicrobial potential of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt). Journal of Genetic engineering and Biotechnology, 11(1), pp.25-31.

[6] Tungare, S., Zafar, N. and Paranjpe, A.G., 2018. Halitosis.

1] Widelski, J. and Kukula-Koch, W.A., 2017. Psychoactive Drugs. In Pharmacognosy (pp. 363-374). Academic Press.

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8512857/

[3] Sudradjat, S.E., Timotius, K.H., Mun’im, A. and Anwar, E., 2018. The isolation of myristicin from nutmeg oil by sequences distillation. Journal of Young Pharmacists, 10(1), p.20.

[4] Ansory, H.M., Sari, E.N., Nilawati, A., Handayani, S. and Aznam, N., 2020, June. Sunscreen and antioxidant potential of myristicin in nutmeg essential oils (Myristica fragrans). In 2nd Bakti Tunas Husada-Health Science International Conference (BTH-HSIC 2019) (pp. 138-142). Atlantis Press.

[5] Subarnas, A., Apriyantono, A. and Mustarichie, R., 2010. Identification of compounds in the essential oil of nutmeg seeds (Myristica fragrans Houtt.) that inhibit locomotor activity in mice. International journal of molecular sciences, 11(11), pp.4771-4781.

[6] ECSCoF, S.C.F., 2002. Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on the Safety of the Presence of Safrole (1-allyl-3, 4-methylene Dioxy Benzene) in Flavourings and other Food Ingredients with Flavouring Properties. European Commission: Brussel, Belgium, pp.1-15.

[7] Saputri, F.A., Lestari, K. and Levita, J., 2014. Determination of safrole in ethanol extract of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt) using reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography. International Journal of Chemistry, 6(3), p.14.

[8] Clarke, S. ed., 2009. Essential chemistry for aromatherapy. Elsevier Health Sciences.

[9] https://www.ec.gc.ca/ese-ees/0129FD3C-B0FF-41C8-8BF5-7B2CD016AD36/batch9_93-15-2_en.pdf

[10] Widelski, J. and Kukula-Koch, W.A., 2017. Psychoactive Drugs. In Pharmacognosy (pp. 363-374). Academic Press.

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8512857/

[12] Sudradjat, S.E., Timotius, K.H., Mun’im, A. and Anwar, E., 2018. The isolation of myristicin from nutmeg oil by sequences distillation. Journal of Young Pharmacists, 10(1), p.20.

[13] Ansory, H.M., Sari, E.N., Nilawati, A., Handayani, S. and Aznam, N., 2020, June. Sunscreen and antioxidant potential of myristicin in nutmeg essential oils (Myristica fragrans). In 2nd Bakti Tunas Husada-Health Science International Conference (BTH-HSIC 2019) (pp. 138-142). Atlantis Press.

[14] Subarnas, A., Apriyantono, A. and Mustarichie, R., 2010. Identification of compounds in the essential oil of nutmeg seeds (Myristica fragrans Houtt.) that inhibit locomotor activity in mice. International journal of molecular sciences, 11(11), pp.4771-4781.

[15] ECSCoF, S.C.F., 2002. Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Food on the Safety of the Presence of Safrole (1-allyl-3, 4-methylene Dioxy Benzene) in Flavourings and other Food Ingredients with Flavouring Properties. European Commission: Brussel, Belgium, pp.1-15.

[16] Saputri, F.A., Lestari, K. and Levita, J., 2014. Determination of safrole in ethanol extract of Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans Houtt) using reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography. International Journal of Chemistry, 6(3), p.14.

[17] Clarke, S. ed., 2009. Essential chemistry for aromatherapy. Elsevier Health Sciences.

[18] https://www.ec.gc.ca/ese-ees/0129FD3C-B0FF-41C8-8BF5-7B2CD016AD36/batch9_93-15-2_en.pdf

Featured Posts
Recent Posts