Can you get high off nutmeg?

Yes, you can get high off nutmeg. But nutmeg also causes hallucinations, delusion and even death. More on nutmeg’s psychotropic effects here.

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minute read

Nutmeg can intoxicate

Yes, you might be able to get high off nutmeg. But nutmeg intoxication is dangerous. If you are seeking the euphoric and hallucinogenic properties of nutmeg, you are warned to do so at risk of your mental health and even your life.

Although nutmeg may seem a low cost alternative to other drugs, it comes with high risks of psychosis and death, and can signal thrill seeking drug abuse behavior.  Learn how to help a drug addict if you’re reading this for someone else. Below, we review what happens to the body when you use nutmeg voluntarily to try to get high, how long symptoms last, and how medical professionals treat nutmeg intoxication.

What happens when you take nutmeg?

Experts have not yet methodically studied the effects of nutmeg on the body, in part, because of the infrequency of reported cases of intoxication and, in part, because of the danger associated with recreational doses of nutmeg. However, cases of nutmeg intoxication do exist and medical literature has tracked similar symptoms of nutmeg intoxication since the early 20th century (1908) and documented the toxic effect of the seed.

Some experts think that during metabolism, high doses of nutmeg form amphetamine derivatives from the volatile oils contained in nutmeg: elemicin (EL), myristicin (MY), and safrole (SA). Of particular interest is the compound called myristicin, which is metabolised to 3-methoxy-4,5 methylenedioxy-amphetamine (MMDA), a psychoactive sympathomimetic. Therefore, experts theorize that myristicin accounts for most of nutmeg’s toxic effects.

Not all of these effects are pleasant, either.

Symptoms of nutmeg intoxication

Ingestion of less than one tablespoon of nutmeg can produce symptoms similar to those of an anticholinergic toxic episode. Central nervous system operations are interrupted, affecting the function of neurotransmitters in the brain. In addition to the central nervous system, nutmeg also affects the cardiovascular system. So, high doses of nutmeg intake result in symptoms such as:

  • abdominal pain
  • agitation
  • chest pain
  • coldness of extremities
  • deliriousness
  • delirium
  • difficulty breathing
  • dizziness
  • fear of death
  • hyperactivity
  • increased body temperature
  • rapid pulse
  • restlessness

One of the most concerning and frightening symptoms of taking high doses of nutmeg are psychotic episodes such as delusions and hallucinations. Anxiety, fear, and a feeling of impending doom are all common during a nutmeg high. As are feelings of detachment from reality or visual hallucinations, taking the form of time, color, or space distortions. Nutmeg can also make you act hostile, combative, and agitated. Chronic psychosis has been reported in cases of prolonged use of nutmeg.

Duration of nutmeg intoxication

People who take nutmeg to get high usually experience symptoms of intoxication for at least 24 hours after taking nutmeg. Symptoms usually appear three to eight hours after ingestion and resolve within a day or two. But many of these symptoms can last longer, up to four days in one case.

Nutmeg intoxication treatment

The clinical course of treatment for taking high doses of nutmeg is mainly supportive, with regular assurance that acute psychotic symptoms will ease. Furthermore, doctors use sedation with benzodiazepines to calm these symptoms and to help reverse the amphetamine-like effects. Charcoal may also help decrease systemic absorption of nutmeg in the body. However, complications such as hypotension (low blood pressure), cyanosis (bluish skin coloration), acidosis (excessive acid in body fluids or tissues), and coma can be life threatening. This is why experts recommend cardio-respiratory monitoring for at least eight hours after ingestion.

Should you take nutmeg to get high?

Nutmeg may seem like a cheap thrill. But abusing nutmeg seeds for their psychotropic effects is clearly not safe or pleasant. Ultimately, high doses of most anything may produce an effect. But at what cost?  Furthermore, if you’re looking into nutmeg to get high, you may have certain personality traits typical of some drug addicts.  Drug addiction and personality traits such as risk taking, impulsiveness, and novelty seeking have been correlated in studies, and your interest in nutmeg may well signal an addictive nature.   In short, doctors suggest NOT taking nutmeg for euphoric effect, and we would like to concur.

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Please leave your questions and comments about getting high on nutmeg below.

Reference sources: The Use of Nutmeg as a Psychotropic Drug
Studies on the metabolism and the toxicologic detection of nutmeg
Low cost, high risk: Accidental nutmeg intoxication
Nutmeg intoxication
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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