Reality is something you rise above.
Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg. N.O. Myristicaceae.
CLASSIFICATION The Nutmeg family comprises about 16 genera and some 400 species of trees with alternate simple leaves often borne on whorled, horizontal branches. The family is exclusively tropical, being especially well represented in Asia and South America. Nearly all members inhabit lowland rain forests. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, males and females being borne on separate trees. The leaves often have glandular dots containing aromatic oil. When wounded, the wood exudes a red sap. The principal commercial products of the family are spices and fatty oils, the latter being employed in perfumery, for making candles, and as a source of ‘butter’ for consumption. The family is so uniform in structure that for a long time all members were classified in the single genus Myristica [name derives from Gr. myristikos, smelling of myrrh]. More detailed study later resulted in its division into numerous genera, including Myristica and Virola, both of which contain members with hallucinogenic properties. Homoeopathy employs two species of this family, both belonging to the potentially hallucinogenic genera. The first is Myristica fragrans, the nutmeg tree. The second, ‘Myristica sebifera’, actually is Virola sebifera. According to Schultes, there are indications that the inner bark is dried and smoked, or used otherwise, by Venezuelan witch doctors “to drive away evil spirits” or “to dance and cure fevers.” This suggests that the tree has hallucinogenic properties. In homoeopathy, however, its application unfortunately has been limited to cases of whitlow and suppurative inflammations, giving it the reputation of the “homoeopathic knife.”
|Nux moscata women|
NUTMEG TREE . The spices nutmeg and mace are obtained from the nutmeg tree, Myristica fragrans. This species belongs to the largest genus, Myristica, which has about 125 species centered in New Guinea. The tree is a native of the Spice Islands [Indonesian islands of the Malay Archipelago called the Moluccas], but cultivated in many tropical countries. It is a slow-growing tree yielding after at least seven years the first small harvest. Male and female trees cannot be distinguished until they begin to flower, so that many of the former are weeded out at the age of seven since a single male tree is enough to fertilize ten to twenty female species. As the fruit develops, it becomes fleshy and on maturity splits into two or four valves, disclosing the large seed. The fruit contains a single large seed wrapped in a network of crimson coloured tissue, the aril [fleshy seed covering producing the spice called mace]. The seed is rich in fat and starch. Most productive are trees between 15 and 30 years old, but productivity may last for up to 60 years. The best quality is said to come from the Banda islands. The name nutmeg is also applied in different countries to other fruits or seeds: the Jamaican, or calabash, nutmeg derived from Monodora myristica; the Brazilian nutmeg from Cryptocarya moschata; the Peruvian nutmeg from Laurelia aromatica; the Madagascar, or clove, nutmeg from Ravensara aromatica; and the California, or stinking, nutmeg from Torreya californica.
SPICE A tree originally found only on the six small Molluca islands of Banda, it is its fruit from which were built the fortunes of Genoa, Venice, Lisbon, Madrid, and Amsterdam. While languishing in a Genoan jail in the years 1298 to 1299, Marco Polo ignited the first spark of European interest in this plant. What seized the imagination of his countrymen was his account, in his book Travels, of an island where a plant grew whose fruit approached the value of gold: nutmeg. The nutmeg trade started as early as the 5th century when Banda’s nutmegs reached India. “By the 9th century this trade had become more formalized as Indian traders based in Java established a monopoly. Arabian sailors started shipping nutmegs to Charx, on the Persian Gulf, and to Egypt through the Red Sea from India. The Arabians were very secretive about the source of the spice and soon built a flourishing spice monopoly that reached as far as Constantinople. Europeans’ contact with Arabia was limited during the early Middle Ages, but the Crusades reopened the trade routes between the East and the West, and nutmeg and cloves became extraordinarily popular. Merchants from Venice and Genoa resident in Palestine traded clothing and iron to Crusaders for spices. The resultant flow of spices northward became so copious that in 1191 the Romans fumigated the streets with nutmeg for the coronation of Emperor Henry VI. Both Venice and Genoa became enormously wealthy as nutmeg and mace flowed north from these cities throughout Europe, even reaching the British Isles. In 1284 a pound of mace sold for the value of three sheep in England, and in the 14th century Geoffrey Chaucer recorded the use of nutmeg to flavour English ale. Still the origins of nutmeg and mace were shrouded in mystery, until Marco Polo, from his prison in Genoa, described whole orchards of nutmeg trees growing on distant islands. His account spurred a search for these ‘spice islands.’ … By 1506 the European spice trade had shifted to Lisbon and Venice’s monopoly was shattered.”1 The Portuguese reached the Banda islands in 1512. In the 17th century the Dutch gained the lucrative monopoly on the nutmeg trade with the establishment of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie [V.O.C., or Dutch East Indies Company] in 1602, a monopoly that would last for nearly a century. In 1770 nutmeg and clove trees were smuggled by the French out of the Moluccas to Madagascar and Zanzibar, where they were successfully cultivated. In the period 1796-1806 the English transported nutmeg trees to British soil in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Trinidad, and eventually Grenada and Singapore. The Dutch spice monopoly was broken.
CONSTITUENTS Nutmegs are the dried ripe seeds of Myristica fragrans, derived of their seed coat and with or without a thin coating of lime. The seed contains 25-35% fixed oil and 5-15% volatile oils. The myristicin fraction of the latter, together with elemicin and safrol is responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of nutmeg seed. Other constituents include safrol, eugenol, and methyleugenol. The aromatic ether myristicin also occurs in some umbelliferous species, such as parsley, dill, and carrot. Myristicin serves as a starting point for the ‘love drug’ or ‘hug drug’ MDA [methylenedioxyamphetamine], and is related to another designer drug, MDMA, or ‘ecstasy’. Elemicin is chemically related to mescaline and the designer drug TMA. The fixed oil contains myristic acid to the extent of 70-80%. This acid predominates in the fats of the Myristicaceae, but it has also been found in palm seed fats, mainly coconuts [up to 20% of the total fatty acids], in milk fats [up to 8-12%], and in most animal and vegetable fats, with considerable amounts [up to 15%] being present in sperm whale oil. 2 Myristic acid is used in shampoos, shaving soaps, creams, lubricants, and in food flavourings [e.g. butterscotch, butter, cocoa, and fruit flavours]. Nutmeg spice is used in the manufacture of pickles and tomato ketchup, in meat and fish sauces, in chocolate dishes, and cherry pie. Nutmeg as well as mace are popular spices; the extract of the latter is moreover used as a spray to discourage attackers.
HALLUCINOGEN The spice nutmeg is one of the most widely known and most easily available plant hallucinogens. Psychotropic effects may be experienced from the ingestion of 5-20 grams of ground nutmeg, which then consist of a [mild] intoxication lasting up to two days and sometimes followed by deep sleep and/or a severe hangover. The effects are comparable to those of cannabis, but side effects may be serious and include dizziness, flushes, dryness of mouth, accelerated heartbeat, temporary constipation, difficulty in urination, nausea, and, sometimes, panic. Nutmeg is used most by underage students looking for legal means to experience ‘altered states’ and by prisoners who can acquire it more easily than illegal substances. “There is ample evidence that nutmeg is toxic, but notwithstanding vague rumours that the hallucinogenic effects of nutmeg have been employed by natives in parts of southeastern Asia, little reliable supporting evidence has been found. In the ancient Indian medical treatise Ayurveda, nutmeg is called madashaunda, a term meaning ‘narcotic fruit’; and nutmeg is often added, possibly in part for its intoxicating effects, to the betel chewed in contemporary India. Reports that nutmeg is added to tobacco and chewed or snuffed are common in modern India. Other vague reports indicate that natives in the hinterlands of Indonesia snuff nutmeg and that it may sometimes be employed in Egypt as a substitute for hashish. … The intoxication is extremely variable, ranging from no mental alterations to full hallucinogenic experiences roughly comparable to those induced by hashish. Unpleasant initial side effects such as headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea are almost always felt. This means that nutmeg is not a specific hallucinogen in the usual sense of that term. Its hallucinogenic effects are rather a manifestation of a general toxicity of this drug when employed in large amounts. … The toxic action of nutmeg must have been recognized as early as its use in medicine became popular. Reports of nutmeg poisoning go back to the late Middle Ages in Europe, when the stupor induced by its ingestion in large doses was often observed. Toxicological interest in nutmeg is of long standing. As early as 1676, van Leeuwenhoek noticed that a volatile constituent of nutmeg killed or repelled mites. The greatest number of reports of nutmeg poisoning, however, appeared near the turn of the century, when the spice enjoyed temporary fame as an emmenagogue and abortifacient, especially in the United States and England.”3
EFFECTS The intoxication is usually characterized by distortion of time and space perception and a feeling of detachment from reality. In many individuals visual hallucinations occur, although not so frequent as with LSD or mescaline. Auditory and other hallucinations are also common, as are sensations of floating or flying, and separation of the limbs from the body. The effects may be summarized thus: “The usual prison dose is a matchbook of ground nutmeg – about 20 grams. This amount can cause some very severe psychological and physiological effects. These effects may vary somewhat with the individual, the dose and potency of the material. Some people enjoy it, but most see it as a rather grueling experience. Many find it difficult to swallow the required dose. Some suffer nausea during the first 45 minutes. After that silly feelings and giggling often occur. This is soon followed by dryness of the mouth and throat, flushing of the skin, and reddening eyes. Occassionally a person will feel agitated and hyperactive, but more often he will feel heavy, intoxicated and unable to do anything but lie down. Motor functions may be confounded and speech incoherent. He may become overly conscious of his heartbeat and become concerned about the seeming gaps between the beats. Later he may enter a stuporous euphoric state in which he experiences profound peace of mind and dreamy visions. If he is able to move about he will usually feel like everything is in slow motion. … A person under the spell of nutmeg is likely to find himself unable to actually sleep, but also incapable of being really awake. Sleepless stupor is the most apt description of nutmeg narcosis. This condition may last for 12 hours followed by 24 hours of drowsiness during which he may sleep a lot. The after-effects are usually quite unpleasant: aching of the bones and muscles, soreness and aching of the eyes, running nose, tiredness, depression and possible headaches. One of the best things that can be said about nutmeg intoxication is that it is too unpleasant to be addicting.”4
CASE REPORTS A case report of nutmeg’s hallucinogenic effects appeared in the New York State Journal of Medicine of February 1, 1969. It concerns an eighteen-year-old student who ingested half a can [one fourth of a teacup] of commercially available nutmeg. He had taken marihuana on several occasions, but had never before experimented with nutmeg. Fifteen to twenty minutes after taking the nutmeg, ‘things went funny.’ “He felt ‘as if he had stayed awake for two days without sleeping’ and ‘things started to look unreal’ to him. His head shook back and forth, and when somebody said something to him, he could not see the connections between the sentences. He said he remembered that he ‘spoke up and nobody understood him’ either. About one and a half-hours after the ingestion, he started feeling ‘as though he had drunk fifty cups of coffee.’ He ‘could not stop shaking’, he ‘was giggling’, he ‘was saying stupid things’, things he would not have said otherwise. His friend became aware of the change in him. The patient remembered she asked him whether or not he felt all right. ‘Peoples’ voices appeared to come out of a porthole above my head.’ He ‘felt a tingling’ in his hands, and presently his ‘whole body felt numb.’ Friends laid him down on the floor, and he remained there for some time. Finally he opened his eyes, looked at the lights on the ceiling, and felt they were cylinder-shaped. He raised his hands, grabbed one of those cylinder light beams, and sat up, ‘pulling himself up by that beam.’ He was still aware of his surroundings and noticed that people were watching him. His heart was beating fast, he was breathing hard, and his throat felt dry. Fortunately, he was constantly accompanied by his friend who subsequently corroborated his recollections. He ‘felt as though he was floating’ but ‘he knew that in reality he was not floating.’ He knew that ‘friends were helping’ him. His ‘legs felt numb’ and as if ‘he was walking in a lake with the water up to his waist.’ His ‘hands appeared white and wrinkled’ to him. At that point, he started feeling as if he was in a trance, and it was the first time that he did not know that people were around him. As he gradually came out of the trance, he could feel a ball in his hands; this ball would expand and contract as he moved his hands, but he could not see the ball. His friend said, ‘Touch something real!’ He then touched the table and felt real again. Subsequently, he felt he kept going in and out of a trance-like state and could, on several occasions, even induce it himself. As he was walking, he felt that the floor was bow-shaped, and he had to hold on to the wall. He recalled that the following three hours were accompanied by these experiences: He would sit on a couch and he would drift away completely, ‘a great fog would be closing in’ on him, and when he was surrounded by this fog ‘everything would turn black.’ ‘Spots of colour, blue and red, would shine through this black cloud.’ Beyond the cloud, there seemed to him to be infinity. He ‘heard a massive confusion of sound’, although to his knowledge there was no one talking and there were no sounds of any other nature at that time. But, again, when his friend called his name, he ‘came out of it.’ At times he felt excited, at times he felt relaxed. He remembered that he would often ask his friend to talk to him to keep him in reality. He found that he could, in this way, practically control his state of mind; that is, whether he would be in a trance state or not. When he looked at the picture of a-countryside with deer in it, he felt as though he were floating into the picture and it took on a three-dimensional character. The deer were alive, the trees had shape. He started feeling everybody in the world could hear him. When he went out of the house and stepped onto the lawn, he anticipated that he would fall into it, as if into an ocean. He started writing in mirror writing, ‘Help! I’m trapped behind the world.’ He played a few notes on his recorder and felt that ‘each note was a brown disc.’ He then played a record; ‘the sound of music made a pattern of colour. There was a central colour and lines around it. The centre was composed of the low notes, the bass, and the high notes were on the periphery.’ He remembered that sound made by ‘cymbals were silvery.’ This configuration kept changing, beating, and throbbing. Finally, he could not stand it any longer, and he turned the music off. By this time, some eight or nine hours had elapsed from the ingestion of nutmeg. He started becoming confused, and memory [recall] became very poor. He fell asleep and seemed to realize that he could finally go to sleep without ‘dropping out’.”5 The British Medical Journal published a case report in the issue of 21 March 1970. “An intelligent 19-year-old female with a hysterical personality took one ounce of nutmeg in water and orange juice. She had five days previously taken LSD with very little effect. She had also experimented with cannabis, but the only noticeable effect of this was that she developed a dry mouth. In contrast to this the effects of nutmeg were marked. At first she felt no effect, but after four hours she felt cold and shivery. Six to eight hours later she was vomiting severely. She saw faces and the room appeared distorted, with flashing lights and loud music. She felt a different person and everything seemed unreal. Time appeared to stand still. She felt vibrations and twitches in her limbs. When she shut her eyes she saw lights, black creatures, red eyes and felt sucked into the ground. Her mood was one of elation. She was taken by her friends to be seen by one of us as an emergency. She was admitted and quickly fell into a sound sleep. For the next week, however, she felt that she was walking in a cloud and complained that her thinking was confused and she found it difficult to follow what people were saying. Her concentration seemed poor and lapses of attention were noticed.”
DREAM STATE Experimenting with nutmeg, Devereux took two teaspoons of ground nutmeg and sprinkled nutmeg essential oil on his pillow and sheets before going to sleep. He describes the result as follows: “I ‘awoke’ in a dream to find myself flying through a clear azure sky over a sun-drenched countryside of rolling hills and fields. I saw houses, people in one-piece greenish tunics, and unusually engineered tricycles, and was able to feel the waxy texture of leaves on trees as I floated by.” Devereux remained in full control over himself in the dream, so that, when he decided to terminate the journey, he just retraced his path to arrive back at his starting point, opening his eyes when he got there. The nutmeg gave him his first, lucid dream, being “a state of consciousness in which the dreamer achieves full awareness within a dream without awakening from sleep, causing the dream to take on such vivid realism that it becomes virtually indistinguishable in clarity and detail to the perception of normal, waking reality.”6
EXPERIENCES The internet site ‘Erowid Experience Vault’ contains about 50 case reports of the effects of nutmeg. These experiences are related pseudonymously. In terms of symptom value, 35 of these reports provide additional or confirmatory information to the drug picture of Nux moschata. [It should be noted that all ‘classical’ symptoms of this drug are derived from the crude substance.] What follows are extracts of the various reports. [i] The time that elapsed between the ingestion of nutmeg and the onset of symptoms varied from 20 minutes to 4 hours, and was described as: ‘light-headedness’, difficulties keeping a ‘train of thoughts, new thoughts seem to occur every 20 seconds’, ‘feeling drunk, couldn’t walk in a straight line’, ‘constant feeling of sinking’, ‘alcohol-like buzz’, and ‘strange feeling of something happening but didn’t know what.’ [ii] About 25% of the subjects mentioned getting into a ‘dream-like state’ after a couple of hours, which for some was more distinct or came exclusively when they closed their eyes. Remarks related to this reality of daydreams include: ‘These dreams are easy to control and are often whimsical. Unlike other drugs, the hallucinations/dreams on nutmeg never seem to be threatening or ego-damaging.’ ‘While listening to the music I felt a strange surge of euphoria coming on. Suddenly my head felt as if it were spinning into my chest, quite nice I might add.’ ‘I felt as if I could feel all my organs inside of me.’ ‘I didn’t know whether I was awake or dreaming, as if sounds and images from my head were materialising inside the room throughout the night.’ Suddenly I felt like I was sinking into the bed and then the floor. When I closed my eyes I felt like I was in an elevator. I put my hand behind my head but strangely enough, it felt like my hand wasn’t connected to my arm.’ [iii] Some 35% of the subjects experienced uncontrollable laughter. [iv] Five persons had what they called ‘shared out-of-the-body experiences’ or ‘shared auditory hallucinations.’ This was described as follows: ‘Nutmeg seems to initiate an other-wordly synchronistic effect of sorts. Dream and reality truly do overlap on nutmeg. But you’ll need another nutmegged friend to find that out.’ [v] Auditory hallucinations were reported by 30% of the subjects. For some these were pleasant, for others unpleasant. ‘Humming noise increasing until it became unbearable.’ ‘Mixture of a feeling and a sound, gradually growing louder and more intense until it was so loud that it hurt inside my head, it was splitting my brain in two. I then moved my head slightly and then: silence. It came back again, started to grow, grow … I kept twitching my head so it wouldn’t grow and so that the feel-sound would not take my sanity.’ ‘The music came alive, the sounds were like nothing I’ve ever heard before. High notes would hit you like pins, the bass would push you around, and every song was better than the last. The music fitted with the visual ‘video’ that was played, both fitted perfectly into each other.’ [vi] Visual hallucinations occurred in almost 50% of the subjects. ‘The roof opened over my head and let a strange colourful universe into the room.’ ‘Geometrical patterns in all colours.’ ‘Visuals of tiny dancing fairies.’ ‘My cot was full of gremlins.’ These hallucinations could be very unpleasant. ‘It was like I was watching movie-clips but somehow I was in them. It was very unpleasant.’ ‘I wandered around the house alone, thinking that I had completely lost it. That it wasn’t the nutmeg that was making me trip but that I actually had gone mad.’ [vii] Not more than three subjects reported that ‘ordinary things seemed more spectacular and beautiful than they normally are.’ One person noticed ‘a sense of heightened intelligence which allowed me to hold an intelligent conversation, bringing me closer to someone. All this without fear of being ridiculed or made to look like a nut …’ [viii] Six subjects experienced a distorted sense of time and space. ‘I was walking up the stairs, all of a sudden I was in his room, then back in the living room, then in the stairs, altering all the time.’ ‘I started thinking how nice it would be to be home on the couch with my cat, watching TV, then I was there. My cat on my lap, I could feel how soft her fur is, how much heat she generates, and how she purrs when you pet her. Never have I felt anything like this before, it was so real and at the same time dream-like.’ ‘Every five minutes I felt like I was in a completely new situation and place, and that of five minutes earlier seemed very foreign.’ [ix] The following ‘side or after effects’ were reported: Sleepiness with tendency to vivid dreams [7 subjects]. Achy, stiff muscles the day after the hallucinations . General tiredness, wants to sleep long . Vertigo with spinning sensation . Headache with a feeling that things didn’t quite stand still . Increased heart rate . Hot, red and sweaty . Extremely pale face with red eyes . Dryness of mouth . Nausea  and vomiting . Constipation  and urinary retention . Clouded memory and slowness of thinking . For about half of the subjects it was a one-time experience, not to be repeated. They found the physical effects ‘nasty’ or couldn’t get over the taste of the drug, which was described as a ‘combination of turpentine and soap’, making nutmeg ‘nicely self-limiting for any abuse.’ One person reported: ‘I truly believe that there are certain nutmeg-people for whom this drug was meant.’ Not uncommon is the advice ‘not to do nutmeg alone’, because ‘due to its effects it is very easy to wander off alone and you might find yourself waking up in a strange place.’ Another reason is that nutmeg apparently allows ‘shared experiences’: ‘nothing I have ever taken compared to a nutmeg-trip with a good friend.’ The effects of nutmeg get ‘significantly worse’ if another dose is taken while the first one is still active. They cannot be interfered with. This was experienced by various subjects. Homoeopathically, it perhaps presents an underestimated element of Nux moschata: rejection of interference. In Hughes’ Cyclopaedia [Vol. III] one can find the case of a man who, soon after eating half a nutmeg, felt dizzy and “an unaccountable derangement of intellect.” He was perfectly conscious of all he said or did, became remarkably loquacious, “seemed to be neither in this world nor in the other, and felt happy and free from any pain.” Greatly alarmed, his friends send in great haste for a doctor, but the man is “unwilling to submit” to treatment. This rejection appears to be unrelated to the internal state of the person. Hering relates the case of a woman with automatic behaviour who fell into violent convulsions if forcibly aroused and Hughes tells of a woman who was “petulant and irritable when roused.”
MEDICINE Nutmeg appears in the Hindu Pharmacopoeia as a treatment for fever, asthma, tuberculosis, and heart disease. The Arabians early reported the therapeutic value of nutmeg. As early as the 7th century, Arab physicians used it for digestive disorders, kidney troubles, and lymphatic ailments. Nutmeg and mace weren’t known to the Greeks or Romans. They were not introduced to the West until 1512, when the Portuguese reached the Banda, or Nutmeg, Islands. “So precious were nutmegs that carved wooden replicas were sold to the ignorant via a black market. Slaves on the ships bringing nutmeg to Europe were castigated for consuming parts of the cargo. They knew that a few of the large kernels of nutmeg seed would relieve their weariness and bring euphoric sensations of an otherworldly nature accompanied by pleasant visions. Nausea and dizziness followed as the price for this respite from reality. The more practical mind of the European saw this seed as potential medicine and did not hesitate to administer it in the event of severe illness. On that day in February 1685 when the feeble King Charles II was felled by a clot or haemorrhage, one of the numerous unsuccessful attempts to revive him included a decoction of nutmeg. His death a few days later did nothing to detract from the reputation of nutmeg as a useful drug. Nutmegs encased in silver were worn at night as an inducement to sleep, aphrodisiac properties were ascribed to them, and they became a standard element in love potions. In London, the rumour spread that a few of these nuts would act as an abortifacient.”7 The people of the Moluccas traditionally use nutmeg oil to treat flu by rubbing it all over the body to produce a warm, strengthening feeling. Grated nutmeg combined with eucalyptus oil is strapped on the abdomen to treat diarrhoea. Throughout Indonesia, grated nutmeg in warm milk is used to help infants and toddlers sleep. However, nowhere on the Moluccas, does it seem that nutmeg is used as an hallucinogen.
FOLKLORE According to folklore, the nutmeg has many virtues. In certain parts of England it is believed that carrying a nutmeg in the pocket is a cure for lumbago and rheumatism, or that a nutmeg threaded and worn on the braces will prevent rheumatism. But the folklore surrounding nutmeg started many centuries earlier. Its purported properties as an aphrodisiac led a Danish young man, in 1619, to the curious belief that he could get the better of an attractive yet unwilling lady by the magical employment of a nutmeg. Standing before the judge’s bench, the man revealed his magic. “The trick was, first, to swallow an entire nutmeg and wait for it to emerge at the other end. Thus prepared, the nut was grated and mixed into beer or wine. Once the object of lust had drunk this love-potion, she would become like wax in the hands of her seducer, not only offering herself ‘to whatever he might desire’ [as stated in the judgement book] but even paying cash for the service. … Three centuries later, in 1917, the military hospital of Copenhagen admitted an ailing soldier. When examined, he refused to give up a little cloth bag that hung on a strap round his neck. But at last he did so, and the bag was found to contain a nutmeg. Asked why he went about with this amulet on his chest, he replied that it protected him against boils and rashes! … The method of seduction reported in the first case was known and practiced in Germany as recently as the beginning of the 20th century. The two most important fields of use for nutmeg in popular superstition were, indeed, love-making and self-beautification. … Whoever received a nutmeg on New Year’s Day and carried it in his pocket could fall as hard as he wished during the coming year without breaking the smallest bone. Nor would he suffer a stroke or be afflicted by haemorrhoids, scarlet fever, or boils in the spleen. Likewise, if one kept a nutmeg in the left armpit when going to dance, the risk of being snubbed or wall-flowered was zero. But it only worked on Friday evenings, according to the cautious author of a black-magic book from Breslau, the source of this advice. Still, one might expect an entire weekend to be saved thereby, as long as one played one’s cards right. A further charm would then be worth knowing: if one smeared nutmeg oil on a certain part of the body [essential to the present topic], the latter would remain active for several days. So, at least, insisted a monk in the 16th century! … In the 16th century a famous Dutch physician, Levinus Lemnius, wrote a book entitled Nature’s Secret Powers. Here, nutmeg played a role in an argument – typical of those days – about the characteristics of men and women. By experiment, Lemnius had established that a nutmeg carried by a man would swell up and become juicy, pretty and more fragrant; whereas if carried by a woman, it would turn wrinkled, dirty, dry, dark and ugly. The reason was obviously that men gave off healthy, agreeable vapours, while those women were impure and tepid. As everyone knew, the same was true of coral, Lemnius hastened to add – for such a theory gained in credibility if one could cite parallels. The professor’s conclusion is not surprising: ‘Man stands above woman, since his nature is finer and nobler than hers. Not only do his spiritual and bodily qualities make him so strong and superior, but he has a physical energy which can even cause dead objects to sprout and grow.’ Nutmeg and coral, for instance!”8
NARCOLEPSY There is a striking similarity between the drug picture of Nux moschata and the clinical picture of narcolepsy. According to the Merck Manual, the neurological sleeping disorder narcolepsy usually begins in adolescence without prior illness and persists throughout life, without affecting longevity. [Under new ASDA classification narcolepsy is categorized as dyssomnia.] The disorder is equally common in both sexes. The cause is unknown, but genetics seem to play a role, indicating that narcolepsy is a familial disorder. Studies on the epidemiology of narcolepsy show an incidence of 0.2 to 1.6 per thousand in European countries, Japan and the USA. Narcolepsy is characterised by two primary or hallmark symptoms and four secondary or auxillary symptoms. The hallmark symptoms include Excessive Daytime Sleepiness [EDS] and Cataplexy. EDS occurs in attacks of overpowering sleepiness, with the attacks varying from few to many in a single day and lasting from minutes to a few hours. Merkc Manual: “The desire to sleep can be resisted only temporarily, but the patient can be roused from narcoleptic sleep as readily as from normal sleep. Attacks are apt to occur in the monotonous conditions conducive to normal sleep, but also may occur in hazardous circumstances [e.g. while driving]. The patient may feel refreshed on awakening, yet fall asleep again in a few minutes.” The “irresistible sleepiness” caused by nutmeg differs from the above in that it is more persistent: “she was then roused by her sister calling her by name; she heard the first summons and answered reluctantly, but could not rouse herself to a state of wakefulness.” [Allen]. Cataplexy is the second hallmark symptom. It occurs in approximately 60% of patients with narcolepsy and involves a sudden weakness ranging from a short-lasting partial muscle weakness to an almost complete loss of muscle control lasting for several minutes. The result is a collapse-like state during which the victim is unable to move or speak, although still conscious and at least partially aware of activities going on around them. Such an attack may, for example, consist of blurred vision, difficulty speaking, a sagging jaw and tilted head, a slight buckling of the knees, or convulsive, jerking motions. The drug picture of Nux moschata contains most of these cataplectic symptoms, e.g. “At this time she became utterly unable to reply to any questions, although her eyes were open and she apparently understood everything transpiring around her.” [Hughes]. And: a thick veil appears before the eyes, speaking becomes difficult or even impossible, the head seems ‘to drop off’, the jaws cannot be closed, the knees ‘knock together’, there are convulsive and chorea-like motions. The cataplexy occurs “in association with sudden emotional reactions, such as mirth, anger, fear, or joy. An element of surprise seems important. These attacks resemble the loss of muscle tone that occurs in REM sleep or to a lesser degree in many persons who become ‘weak with laughter’.” [Merck Manual]. For a person with narcolepsy, sleep begins almost immediately with REM sleep instead of with a ‘normal’ sleep period for 60-90 minutes of non-REM sleep. Causations listed for Nux moschata include anger, emotional excitement, fright, grief, disappointed love, mental exertion, and mental shock. Although laughing, giggling, and ‘seeing the ridiculous side of everything’ are frequently mentioned by the provers, these appear to be more concomitant than causative phenomena. Secondary symptoms of narcolepsy – that is, occurring less frequently – include disrupted nocturnal sleep, sleep paralysis, hypnagogic hallucinations, and automatic behaviour. Examples of the latter, as reported by narcoleptic patients, involve ‘waking up’ in the wrong section of town, parking on a wrong street, writing meaningless sentences, or interjecting unrelated subjects into a conversation. Hering gives a Nux moschata case which aptly exemplifies automatic behaviour: “The outer world had no existence for her; automatically she attended to her household duties, and on awaking from this condition she had not the slightest recollection of what she had done; if forcibly aroused she fell into violent convulsions; if unmolested she would usually, after finishing her work, go to bed and fall into a quiet sleep.” In addition, Nux moschata has the symptoms ‘losing one’s way in well-known streets’, ‘wakes up from his loss of thought and then has to recall to mind where he is’, and ‘gives answers which have not the least reference to questions put to him.’ One of Helbig’s provers produced such ‘blackouts’ to a remarkable degree: “He stood still in the street, made silly gesticulations, occasionally sunk in the completest absence of mind, and on collecting himself, everything that was around him appeared ridiculous.” Sleep paralysis is somewhat similar to cataplexy; it refers to the inability to move despite the desire to do so and occurs as the [narcoleptic] patient is just falling asleep or just waking up from sleep. Sleep paralysis [present in 30% of cases] may occur in conjunction with hypnagogic hallucinations [some 25% of cases], the latter being intense vivid experiences just before or after sleep in which any or all of the normal senses are involved, so that they are extremely difficult to distinguish from reality. These episodes are usually associated with a strong feeling of fear, and frequently relate to feelings of a malevolent, threatening or evil ‘presence’. Narcoleptic patients, however, also report auditory, visual, proprioceptive, and tactile hallucinations, as well as floating sensations and out-of-body experiences. 9 Apart from floating sensations, there is little evidence for the presence of sleep paralysis or hypnagogic hallucinations in Nux moschata. Nightmares and a fear of dying are occasionally mentioned, but more often fear is absent during the blending of reality and unreality. The last clinical symptom of narcolepsy, disrupted noctural sleep, is neither strongly represented in the drug picture of nutmeg. The closest is the symptom “inability to sleep in spite of drowsiness.”
AMPHETAMINES Although narcolepsy is considered a “life-long, potentially disabling disorder” by orthodox medicine, stimulant drugs such as amphetamines, metamphetamines or methylphenidate hydrochloride [Ritalin] may help to keep symptoms under control. Common side effects of these stimulants are headache, irritability, nervousness, insomnia, arrhythmias, and mood changes. “Although the stimulant drugs called amphetamines as such are not hallucinogenic, certain derivates containing methoxy subsitutes on the benzene ring have hallucinogenic properties similar to mescaline. Thus 3,4,5-trimethoxyamphetamine [TMA] is twice as psychoactive as mescaline. Among the more chemically interesting of the substituted amphetamines are the methylenedioxyamphetamines [MDA], which resemble myristicin of nutmeg.”10 Myristicin serves as a starting point for MMDA and MDA, and is related to another designer drug, MDMA, or ‘ecstasy’. Elemicin is chemically related to mescaline and the designer drug TMA. Amination [chemical introduction of an amino group – NH2 – into a molecule] of safrol, another constituent of nutmeg essential oil, yields MDA. The constituents of nutmeg thus resemble amphetamine derivatives.
PROVINGS ••  Helbig – 27 provers [19 males, 8 females], c. 1833; method: probably the tincture, either taken orally or rubbed on the abdomen; manner not stated; observation periods ranging from 1 to 14 days.
••  Hering’s Monograph on Nux Moschata contains nine additional provings by Helbig [with the tincture or by ‘holding nut in hand’] as well as a number of reports on the effects from taking the crude substance.
 Balick and Cox, Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany.  Merck Index.  Schultes and Hoffmann, The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogens.  Church of the Tree of Life, First Book of Sacraments; cited in Stafford, Psychedelics Encyclopedia.  Fras and Friedman, Hallucinogenic Effects of Nutmeg in Adolescent; New York State Journal of Medicine, 1 Feb. 1969.  Devereux, The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia.  Emboden, Narcotic Plants.  Swahn, The Lore of Spices.  Sleep Paralysis and Associated Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Experiences; Health Communities. com.  Lewin and Elvin-Lewis, Medical Botany.
SENSORIUM. Mind. NERVES. FEMALE ORGANS. Digestion. Mouth. Children and old women. * Right side. Left side.
Worse: Cold [bath; damp; drafts; wind; fogs; feet; food; water]. Pregnancy. Change of seasons. EMOTIONS. MENSES. Jar. Bruises. Slight causes. Mental exertion or shock. Lying on painful side. Spirituous liquors. After eating or drinking.
Better: Moist heat. Warm room. Dry weather. Wrapping up warmly. External heat.
c COMMON SYMPTOMS OF NUX MOSCHATA AND CANNABIS INDICA
Catalepsy. – Clairvoyance. – Confusion of mind, as if in a dream. – Delusions: being double; distances are enlarged; floating in air; familiar things are strange or ludicrous. – Fear of dark. – Foolish and forgetful. – Jesting and laughing. – Time passes too slowly. – Head seems enlarged. – Head as if separated from body. – Sounds seem distant. – Dryness of mouth and throat; but no thirst. – Sensation as if drops were falling from heart. – Sensation of lightness or heaviness in limbs.
M CHANGEABLE mood.
Laughing # crying.
M DREAMY, clairvoyant state.
SPACED OUT; fights to stay awake.
• “Sense of impending dissolution.” [Phatak]
Talks loudly to herself.
M CONFUSION; absent-minded.
VANISHING of thought on reading, while speaking, while writing.
• “Before answering a question, he has to think for awhile; often, in spite of every effort, he is unable to give a suitable answer; a kind of slow flow of ideas. He staggers when walking, and when thinking he has but one idea, until he wakes up from his loss of thought, and he has then to recall to mind where he is.”
• “She seemed to understand what was said to her, and would begin to reply, but forgot what she was saying in the middle.” [Hughes]
M GIGGLING AND LAUGHING.
• “Constant flow of merry conceits, and appears gay to himself, sees the ridiculous side of everything.”
• “Quite contrary to usual, everything makes him laugh, which is particularly noticeable as he is in the open air. He stood still in the street, made silly gesticulations, occasionally sunk in the completest absence of mind, and on collecting himself, everything that was around him appeared ridiculous.”
• “Disposition to laugh or jest at everything.” [Hughes]
Thinks everything changed; everything is strange, as if in dream.
Objects appear multiplied.
Feels as if floating in the air.
• “She performs all her duties and yet seems to be in a dream.”
Cloudiness of consciousness.
• “He would sit on a couch and he would drift away completely, ‘a great fog would be closing in’ on him, and when he was surrounded by this fog ‘everything would turn black.’ ‘Spots of colour, blue and red, would shine through this black cloud.’ Beyond the cloud, there seemed to him to be infinity.” [case report 1 – see above]
This resembles a symptom mentioned in a case report from 1683.
• “It seemed as if a thick veil were before the eyes, and that a multitude of sparks continually issued from them.” [Hughes]
Everything looks red. [In a woman after eating a whole nutmeg.]
M Distortion of space and time.
• “On waking the next morning he found that he could not appreciate distances, his workshop appeared so far off that he felt he could never reach it.”
• “Voices of persons in the rooms sounded far away; words spoken seemed as if spoken a long time before.”
• “On awaking, he went to a theatre. On the way, he lost all thinking power, and fell into a peculiar state of hallucination. He feared he had not taken the right road, felt it impossible to make out where he was, and found the distance and the time taken excessively long – thinking he had been an hour on the way and should miss the beginning of the piece.” [Hughes]
M Clairvoyant state; prophesying.
• “Accurately answers questions quite OUT OF HER SPHERE, and on returning to consciousness knows nothing about it.” [Clarke]
G DRYNESS, DROWSINESS and DIZZINESS.
• “Whole body seemed benumbed and dried up.” [Hughes]
G Ailments after mental shocks, grief [e.g. death of a beloved person], disappointed love, apoplexy.
G Very CHILLY.
G Cannot eat much.
Easy satiety; eating a little too much = headache.
G NO THIRST.
G Complaints accompanied by OVERPOWERING DROWSINESS.
G Great drowsiness but inability to sleep.
G < OPEN AIR. < COLD air. > WARM bed.
G < Getting WET. < FEET getting wet. G FAINTING. [pains, sight of blood, in a crowded room, after emotions, after excitement, before or during menses, from odours, during palpitation]. G PREGNANCY. MENTAL and physical affections DURING PREGNANCY. Complete CHANGE of the personality. Anger; excitement; fear; sadness; unconsciousness; difficult concentration, confusion. Cough during pregnancy; toothache; fainting fits; fullness stomach; nausea; vomiting; waterbrash; diarrhoea; coldness skin; sleepiness; menses during pregnancy. G Sensation of enlargement. P Head seems to expand, too large, bursting. > Hard pressure.
P [Sensation of] DRYNESS of MOUTH and THROAT.
Tongue sticks to roof of mouth; yet NO THIRST.
< Sleep; < during menses. Rubrics Mind Absentminded, stands in one place and never accomplishes what he undertakes [2; Med.]. Aversion to company during pregnancy . Confusion; knows not where he is ; loses his way in well-known streets ; from mental exertion . Delusion, everything is changed , parts are diminished, shrunken [1; Sabad.], being double , being double, his real conscious self seemed to be watching his other self playing [1/1], distances are enlarged , existence, surroundings did not exist [1; Agn.; Puls.], floating in air , flying [1*], having two heads . Everybody must hurry . Imitation . Laughing, before menses . Things seem ludricous . Vanishing of thoughts, before menses [2/1], while speaking . Time appears longer, passes too slowly . Yielding disposition . Head Sensation as if head were separated from body . Eye Strabismus < mental emotions or fear . Vision Colours before the eyes, objects seem red . Objects seem distant , in the dark [1/1]. Objects seem to be moving, floating [1/1]. Hearing Sounds seem distant . Impaired, before storm [1; Croc.]. Stomach Distension, after contradiction [2/1], after excitement [1; Arg-n.]. Sensation of fulness during pregnancy [3/1]. Nausea on touching lips [1; Cadm-s.]. Pain, pressing, before menses . Abdomen Flatulence during menses . Chest Sensation as if heart would cease to beat . Sensation of coldness in region of heart [1*]. Sensation as if drops were falling from the heart [1; Cann-i.; Cann-s.!]. Flushes of heat in region of heart , extending over body . Palpitation > walking .
Pain, scratching, dorsal region, between scapulae, as if someone were scraping her there [1*]. Tension, cervical region, in cold, damp air .
Bandaged sensation, upper arms [1*]. Sensation of enlargement, hands , legs .
Sleepiness after excitement , with inclination to laughter , during pain .
Falling from a height . Being pursued .
Convulsions when forcibly aroused from a trance [2/1]. Numbness > being touched [1*].
* Repertory additions [Hughes].
Aversion: : Bread; milk.
Desire: : Brandy; coffee. : Alcohol; juicy fruit [*]; nutmeg [*]; pungent; spicy.
Worse: : Alcohol; cold drinks; cold food; wine. : Beer; hot food; milk [= diarrhoea, especially boiled milk]; warm food; water.
Better: : Hot food; warm drinks. : Spicy.
* Repertory additions.