Nutmeg is a spice that is often used in eggnog and cakes, but when smoked or ingested at high doses, this tangy spice can be toxic.
Hallucinogenic Effects of Nutmeg
People have used nutmeg to achieve hallucinogenic results for at least a century if not longer, according to a 2000 article on nutmeg in Clinical Toxicology. Primarily known as a cooking spice, nutmeg is produced from the seed of a nutmeg tree.
According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), it usually takes five or more grams of nutmeg to produce toxic effects. Signs of acute nutmeg poisoning usually begin three to six hours after the spice is consumed. If nutmeg is smoked or inhaled, the effects happen much faster, occurring in as little as 15 minutes. The following symptoms are typical of nutmeg poisoning, according to NTP:
- Feelings of depersonalization, such as a sense that surroundings are unreal or an out-of-body feeling
While most people overcome the effects within 24 hours, the symptoms may last several days or several months and, in rare cases, including death.
Nutmeg Inhalation and the Body
Once a person has smoked nutmeg, the symptoms are similar to ingesting it. The substance affects the body’s central nervous system as well as the gastrointestinal system. According to the Clinical Toxicology article, the following symptoms are signs of nutmeg poisoning or toxicity:
- Central nervous system effects, including euphoria, giddiness, anxiety, hallucinations (visual, auditory, or tactile), apprehension, detachment, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness
- Cardiovascular effects, including tachycardia, hypotension, and ﬂushing
- Gastrointestinal effects, including nausea, pain, gagging, and vomiting
- Peripheral effects, including numbness, blurred vision, hypothermia, and sweating
In the early stages of poisoning, a person may seem to be experiencing a psychotic episode.
Potential for Nutmeg Abuse
Nutmeg abuse is uncommon and unlikely to become a problem in the future, according to the Clinical Toxicology article. It takes high quantities of the drug to produce hallucinogenic effects, and most people are unlikely to eat or smoke such a large amount. In addition, nutmeg does not produce the same level of predictable results as other hallucinogens.