Medicinal Values of Nutmeg and Mace: two spices from a single tropical fruit


This article explains medicinal values of two spices named nutmeg and mace which are obtained from tropical fruits of several trees belonging to the genus Myristica. Nutmeg is a hard kernel and mace is its outer covering.

Introduction

Nutmeg is an egg shaped seed of trees which comes under the genus Myristica. Trees are native to the islands near Indonesia. These are the only trees in the world which are the sources of two different spices. These trees are commonly grown in Kerala, tropical parts, Caribbean etc. Trees are also of great value because of essential oils which is extracted from leaves and from tree itself. Mace is an outer covering of nutmeg which is usually dried. Nutmeg weighs approximately 5 to 10 gm when dry and is found shelled underneath mace. These spices are now globally used. Nutmeg is a little sweet in taste and is slightly high in price. It is also known for its aroma and curative benefits. It is almost the size of an apricot and when it dries up, it reveals itself into a single hard kernel. Mace closely surrounds nutmeg and is usually reddish in color. It appears to be lacy or thread like. Taste is similar to that of nutmeg but also gives taste buds a hint of pepper.

Medicinal Values of Nutmeg

Pain Relief

Nutmeg has ability to relieve pain or reduce it to a large extent and thus regularly adding it to cooking can provide us relief from inflammatory conditions like arthritis. Also, it reduces pain caused due to trauma, stress, strains and wounds. It is also used to treat tooth related pain and heal mouth ulcers.

Healthy Skin

Nutmeg can greatly enhance appearance of skin as it has anti inflammatory properties. It helps to get rid of inflammation and irritation caused on the skin. It gradually reduces the marks caused by pimples, pox and boils. It helps to achieve even skin tone and provide smooth texture. It is usually applied in a paste form mixed with water. However, it can also be applied in the paste form mixed with rose water or milk. It locks moisture within the skin and improves overall texture, enhancing the inner glow.

Maintains Organ Functions

Nutmeg is high in mineral content like copper, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc etc. Potassium dilates blood vessels which is good for heart as it keeps blood pressure reduced to normal level. It also controls heart rate. It quickly facilitates absorption of nutrients from food enhancing working efficiency of digestion related organs. Calcium present in nutmeg keeps bone healthy and quickly repairs and promotes growth of bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Iron present is essential for red blood cells production and also for enzymes like cytochrome oxidases. It prevents anemia and helps to increase RBC count. For antioxidant enzyme and superoxide dismutase, manganese and copper are used as co-factors.

Maintains Overall Health

Nutmeg is rich in vitamin B-Complex, vitamin-C, vitamin-A, folic acid, niacin, anti-oxidants like beta-carotene etc. All these vitamins are essential for healthy working of an individual. Apart from the essential nutrients present in it , nutmeg also has anti-fungal and antidepressant functions.

Detoxification

Usually in liver and kidneys, toxins get accumulated and these toxins deteriorate health of these organs as well as deteriorates overall health. Nutmeg helps in detoxification process by removing the accumulated toxins from these organs. Toxins get accumulated due to excessive consumption of alcohol or may be due to drug intake. Even toxins from food and toxins from pollution also may get accumulated. Nutmeg frees body from these toxins and acts as a tonic helping to boost health. Also, it dissolves stones present in kidneys, improving their working efficiency.

Improves Digestion

Nutmeg is rich in fiber i.e., even when it is made into powder form or consumed in a paste form, it still retains its fiber content which is very good for stomach as well as intestine. This is because fiber bulk up bowel movements. It helps in peristaltic movements and thus provides a relief from constipation. It also helps to induce secretion of juices from stomach and intestine, improving working efficiency of these organs.

Oral Care

It increases immunity of oral cavity due to the presence of its anti bacterial components. Thus, gums and teeth remain healthy and disease free. Also, halitosis does not develop. Caries or cavity formations does not develop in teeth. Gums and underlying oral tissues do not develop gingivitis or periodontal infections. Nutmeg is used in manufacturing of various mouthwashes and toothpastes because of its antibacterial property. Nutmeg oil contains eugenol which is used to relieve pain from tooth and surrounding areas as it decreases sensitivity.

Brain Health

Nutmeg contains essential oils like myristicin and macelignan. These oils prevent neural pathways from degradation. Usually in Alzheimer's disease and dementia, degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function is seen. These essential oils slow down degradation process and helps in normal functioning of brain.

Sleeplessness and Insomnia

Nutmeg is rich in magnesium which is known for its property to release tension built in nerves. It releases serotonin which creates sedative action. This serotonin when reaches brain is then changed to melatonin. This melatonin is well known as a sleep inducer. This is the reason, nutmeg since ages has been used as a sleep inducer, helping all those suffering from sleeplessness and insomnia. Since old times, small amount of nutmeg is taken in warm milk at night that will release neurotransmitters, helping an individual to sleep and relax.

Medicinal Values of Mace

Better Digestion

Tea made from boiling mace in water is believed to relax indigestion, gastric troubles as well as stop nausea and vomiting. Not only this, oil extracted from mace is also known to stop diarrhea and helps in stomach spasms. Capsules containing nutmeg as main component is available and these capsules if taken twice a day are known to subside diarrhea. They ease stomach aches as well as flatulence.

Better Appetite

All those individuals who are weak and thin and want to gain weight as well as others who have lost their appetite as side-effects to certain medications or else due to some chronic illness should use a pinch of mace powder as a spice in their food. This will greatly help them in eating better as their appetite increases in turn making them healthy.

Safeguards Kidneys

When it comes to dealing with kidney care, mace is an exceptional cure. It prevents formation of kidney stones and the ones which are already formed get dissolved away. Also, it does protects kidneys by preventing any sort of kidney related diseases, disorders or infections from forming. All these result in better kidney care as well as their better functioning.

Improves Brain Health

Mace stimulates brain and eliminates stress as well as exhaustion. It is used to treat depression and anxiety. It makes dreams more colorful, intense and improves their quality. It increases the focus and enhances efficiency of brain. Oils like myristicin and macelignana decrease both cognitive function and neural pathway degradation and thus improves better functioning of brain. Mace is also a stress buster helping to get rid of stress and tension.

Oral Health

Mace spice is a natural cure used for all sorts of dental problems. It prevents bacteria from accumulating in oral cavity which give rise to foul smell known as halitosis. It also protects teeth and gums resulting in better oral health. Its oil contain eugenol which is again good for reducing toothaches.

Massage Oil

One of the best use of mace oil is that it can be used for massaging. It has many therapeutic values. It is known to reduce stress and soreness from the joints and helps them to relax. Particularly useful in relieving rheumatic soreness and muscle spasms. It has excellent sedative action and anti inflammatory properties. It not only brings relief in arthritis and rheumatism but is also known to bring relief in abdominal pain and inflammation, aching joints, bruises and sores.

Prevents Cancer

Oil present in mace suppress those blood vessels from developing which usually feed on cancer cells. In this way, mace oil prevents formation of cancer and also helps in its treatment. Compound myristic present in mace retards formation of cancer cells in colon.

Improves Blood Circulation

Mace increases blood circulation in body which overall improves health of body. Hair and skin too remains healthy. All the body organs receive nutrients in adequate amount and thus this increases their working efficiency. It also prevents infections or inflammation of any kind. It prevents diabetes and other diseases which are life-threatening.

Rich in Vital Nutrients

Mace is rich in many vitamins and minerals. Mace has abundance of copper, calcium, zinc, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese etc. Potassium controls heart rate as well as keeps blood pressure in normal range. Iron present in it helps in RBC's production. It contains various vitamins like vitamin-A, vitamin B-complex. vitamin-C, riboflavin, niacin etc. All these vitamins and minerals are essential for good health. Deficiency of iron causes anemia, muscular weakness, fatigue etc. and thus regular intake of mace will prevent all these conditions.

Common Cold and Cough Treatment

Mace increases immunity of body and helps prevent infections from developing. Commonly occurring cold and flu can be both prevented as well as treated. It is also very good for those individuals who suffers from asthma attacks. Thus, mace is used to prepare cough syrups and cold rubs.

Culinary Uses of Nutmeg and Mace

Both nutmeg and mace can be used in preparations of various recipes. Best thing about them is that they can be used interchangeably. However, mace has more intense flavor. It is thus more pleasant and when added to food gives light saffron color and thus preferred in light dishes. It also gives a hint of pepper. Nutmeg is slightly sweet spice and is used to flavor recipes. It is used in grated or powder form. Ground nutmeg is also used for smoking purpose. It is used in preparations of both sweets as well as main dishes, particularly in meat preparations. Both nutmeg and mace are used in various recipes like in preparations of soups, sauces, donuts, cakes, marinate meat etc. Nutmeg butter is also used to relish taste buds.

Conclusion

The two spices named nutmeg and mace, until mid-19th century were only limited to spice islands in Indonesia. However, today they are used worldwide. They are derived from several species of trees which come under genus Myristica. Nutmeg is the seed of the tree whereas lacy covering around nutmeg itself is mace. Nutmeg is usually used in powdered form and sometimes even in grated form. Tropical fruit so obtained from these trees is the only fruit in the world to be a source of two different spices. Both nutmeg and mace can be used interchangeably i.e., one can be used instead of other as very little difference can be noted in their tastes. Medicinal values of nutmeg and mace are simply great. Both of them have similar properties and most of the times serves for similar purposes. They are popular spices and have a long list of health benefits as they possess great medicinal values. They impact our health in many ways and are rich sources of essential vitamins and minerals necessary for our healthy living.


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