Spices Gone Wild: Nutmeg's Surprising Secondary Use

If you are still thinking about making this week's Rumbledethumps recipe, but you were looking around for a lower-cost spice to replace ground mace, I've found an extremely compelling reason for you to consider nutmeg as a substitute.

You see, in addition to deliciously spicing up your home-cooked recipes, nutmeg has an unexpected secondary use--as a hallucinogen. From Wikipedia:

In amounts of 10-40 g (~2-8 teaspoons) nutmeg is a mild to medium hallucinogen, producing visual distortions and a distinct euphoria. According to some, the effects have a striking similarity to cannabis intoxication, except with a longer duration, and more side effects.

Wow. So using the midpoint from the figures above, my 2-ounce jar of nutmeg should provide me with 2-3 trips! All for the reasonable price of just $4.99! Suddenly, spices don't seem like such a ripoff anymore. And better still:

A user will not experience a peak until approximately six hours after ingestion, and effects can linger for up to three days afterwards.

Time to fire up a few Google searches! It's amazing what you can learn on the Internets. However, as always, there's a catch:

...use of nutmeg as a recreational drug is unpopular due to its unpleasant taste and its side effects, including dizziness, flushes, dry mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and panic.

Uh, does anyone have an idea of what they might mean by "temporary" constipation? And it gets worse:

A risk in any large-quantity ingestion of nutmeg is the onset of 'nutmeg poisoning', an acute psychiatric disorder marked by thought disorder, a sense of impending doom/death, and agitation. Large doses of 60 g (~12 teaspoons) or more are dangerous, potentially inducing convulsions, palpitations, nausea, eventual dehydration, and generalized body pain.

Way to take the fun out of everything, Wikipedia!
Note: Casual Kitchen readers hereby indemnify and hold harmless the writer of this blog from any and all claims, damage, lawsuits, judgments, including attorneys' fees and costs, arising out of: bad spice trips, bad recipes, bad writing, and any other dumb idea acted on by said readers as a result of reading this blog.

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Melissa said...

I actually knew about that. I think of it every time I use nutmeg (though, in fact, you'd have to buy "pure" nutmeg and not what you typically use for baking). I smell it and think "there is no way I could eat 5 tablespoons of that." Gag.

I read about people's experiences and it struck me as interesting that probably 70-75% of those who tried it had a "bad trip" to varying and sometimes frightening degrees.

Those who didn't, though, said that they felt a sense of mental connection with their companion that was transcendental and amazing, that the sense of spiritual awakening and psychedelic effects were euphoric and long-lasting (as you noted, up to 3 days).

I suppose like anything else of this sort, it depends on the person and how well your mind and body can handle a certain stimulus.

Interesting the effects of simple herbs and spices, no? :)

Daniel said...

Great point about "pure" nutmeg. Any idea where you can get it in that form?

I'm just curious, of course. :)