Kitchen Psychopharmacology

nutmeg is not a friendly drug

Nutmeg? Nutmeg?? The usual reaction to using nutmeg as an intoxicant is a combination of incredulity and pity. For the unhip, it’s as if those tomatoes atop the refrigerator began sharpening knives and studying you with sudden bloody eyes. For the hip, it’s rather like someone confessing an affection for the comic sans type font. And they are right. While nutmeg is a benign drug (it won’t kill you or enthrall you), it is not exactly a friendly drug. The trip begins by making you mildly ill. This can be panic inducing if you didn’t know it was coming and yes, people have shown up at emergency rooms for just that reason. Well okay: what part of intoxication do you not understand?

Probably the best account of the history, properties and effects of nutmeg is a post by Ibo Nagano, Do You Know About the Narcotic Effects of Nutmeg? Click on the link if you’re curious though most of you, dear readers, will be too lazy. But if you’re inclined to experiment with nutmeg, that article really is your homework.

Nutmeg is classified as a deliriant, a sub-category of hallucinogen, the other sub-categories being psychedelics and dissociatives. Unlike psychedelics, most deliriants are cheap and legal. If it’s time to feed your head and the shelf and wallet are bare, that is probably the best argument for using nutmeg as more than a flavoring.

But as I said, nutmeg is not a friendly drug. First off, a reasonable dose for someone not resembling a character from The Triplets of Belleville would be a heaping teaspoon. But if the nutmeg has been sitting on your spice rack or in a warehouse for some indefinite period of months and months and months, you may need more. Freshness matters. If you can buy the seeds to grate or grind (as is recommended for its use as a spice), you’re better off.

Now how does one consume this dose? As I said, nutmeg is not a friendly drug. Imagine a mouthful of sand. Or ground coffee. Real nice, eh? A mouthful of nutmeg is about like that. I found that placing the spoonful under the tongue, holding it there as long as practical then washing it down with a glass of water is actually palatable. But cooking with nutmeg is your best option. I modified a fairly standard recipe for corn bread to include a half cup of nutmeg and that worked just fine. Another advantage to cooking is that the main active ingredient, myristicin, is found in other foods and spices and these can be added to recipes as well. Consult Nagano’s article for more information.

Any drug orally consumed will take time to intoxicate; it’s not like inhaling. Nutmeg is slow. It may be an hour later but it could be four or five hours later. (Were you hungry when you ate it?) Taking more will not hurry things and it may make things uncomfortably weird later on. Be sure it is a free day for you. Do not operate heavy equipment. In fact, avoid heavy equipment the next day, too, as you may well be mildly incompetent for most of the next day. Need I repeat? Nutmeg is not a friendly drug but once you’ve invited it to visit, it hangs around like a needy acquaintance.

I’m not a big fan of nutmeg (though I do like comic sans) but being a penurious geezer, I partake now and then. It did occur to me to wonder if CBD would be useful in easing the onset of nutmeg intoxication.

CBD? That hemp extract that doesn’t get you high? Actually, that isn’t exactly true. It’s one of those things that is not quite a lie but maybe qualifies as sloppy journalism. Taking CBD is a bit like smoking what, back in the day, we would have called “ditch weed.” After the second joint, you’d be rather relaxed, ready for a nap perhaps. CBD is a chemical precursor to marijuana’s primary active ingredient, THC. In marijuana, CBD and a multitude of other related substances play a role in modifying the effects of THC. In its complexity, pot is pretty similar to coffee.

In experimenting with CBD, I had in mind easing the physically sour effects in the onset of nutmeg intoxication and the answer to that is… maybe. CBD seemed to abbreviate that early stage of nutmeg intoxication and the quality of the high had some weedy aspects. But how much of that is expectations? Don’t know but further experimentation by me is unlikely. CBD as an intoxicant costs a lot more than it’s worth.

It did, however, lower my blood pressure by about 15mm for two days after.*

Oh, and don’t let this stop you from using nutmeg as a flavoring. The quantities prescribed in recipes are not usually intoxicating… Or if you insist, think of it as “microdosing.” You’ll sleep and dream well tonight. Here, have some more eggnog.



* A formulation of CBD has been approved by the FDA as a drug to control seizures. It’s a pretty big dose compared to the tinctures on sale in stores. The anti-seizure qualities of CBD were noted as far back as the early 1970s, but cannabis was (and as of 2019, still is) one of those Schedule 1 forbidden fruits, making even research fraught.

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Directed & Animated by Valere Amirault, Jean Delaunay, Sarah Laufer, Benjamin Mattern.

These days, I mostly play Klondike Solitaire, but I did play various versions of the Mario game in decades past, when I had access to it. I still play, several times a year, a Pacman knock-off from the 1980s, “3-Demon”.