Is nutmeg safe for us and our animals?

I was having a delightful conversation with an older lady from Jamaica (previously Bahamas) and asked if she was dealing with arthritis or other joint issues.  She laughed and said: “oh no dear child, I was raised using some stuff my momma made from coconut oil with nutmeg and West Indies bay soaking in it. We used it on us and our dog and horse when they were limping or had gotten in a fight.  My brothers used it a lot when they were teenagers but their dogs got it put on too.” Why the dogs? “Stupid guys would have their dogs fight until somebody yelled at them.  The dogs soon learned not to lick it due to the taste though.”

Nutmeg or myristica  fragrans, grows plentifully in the tropical areas and has a covering that is steam distilled or dried to make mace.  Same part of the plant with different compounds.  Most Aromatherapists are taught that nutmeg is to be avoided due to the narcotic compound, myristicin.  The concentration of this in the essential oil is about 5% making it fairly low as compared to the other compounds.

Some humans have decided to see if they could get high on the oil and/or powder.  Mind set being strange as it was, they did get somewhat high but also violently sick to the stomach.  Serves them right.

I have been using nutmeg oil when treating dogs who have hip dysplasia as well as arthritis or, as the poor beastie is getting old, the aches and pains that slow down fetching a ball or getting up the stairs. I usually combine the nutmeg with black pepper and lemon.  The combination decreases pain and increases mobility with concentration at about 2%.  I tend to keep my essential oil concentrations 2% or lower unless I’m putting yarrow on an open wound. Then it’s straight on, assuming you have a good quality essential oil and a beautiful dark blue colour.

For a time, at my clinic, I was wondering if the only beings I was treating were animals of all sizes – cats, dogs, horses and birds.

The birds were usually having breathing issues and so nutmeg along with black spruce, Canadian balsam and a touch of peppermint dripped onto a tissue in the cage made a world of difference. Since it wasn’t direct application onto the birds, the oil blend was neat.  This is very similar to what I use on humans for asthma.

Believe it or not, horses for all their great size, have a very touchy liver – about the same as a wee baby. Therefore, concentrations are kept low. An owner came to me with the problem that her “Baby” had gotten tangled in barbed wire and was most unhappy.  Baby was a Clydesdale and weighed 2500 pounds.  His blend was nutmeg, yarrow, copaiba and benzoin at a 2% concentration that she could spray onto the injured areas. Her comment was that the stuff from the vet made him angry and stung.  The blend didn’t sting and, in fact, made him very calm to be around for her grandchildren. The wounds healed so rapidly that she wanted to know if there was any danger if the blend was sprayed across his chest before the kidlets were going to be playing around him. Answer: no, not at that concentration.

I did have one person who had the essential oil of nutmeg for themselves after they had done the Grouse Grind (an extremely strenuous hike up a ski hill in summer) use the oil straight onto their horse’s strained fetlock.  They applied it 3 times a day with the vet just shrugging his shoulders.  Everything was healed within a very short time. I recommended that the oil should have been mixed into a lotion the next time since while it does help the digestive system and liver function, it’s usually best to keep concentrations lower just to be safe.

This is an oil that counters both respiratory and digestive spasms. So, for colic and gas from the horse eating too much oats or getting into something they shouldn’t have, use nutmeg oil along with copaiba and peppermint at about 1% concentration to calm things down. It can be applied to the chest and gut areas or go after the spine where the nerves are.  Bear in mind that the peppermint in cold winter might not be the best.

Overall, I feel this is a great oil to carry along for my humans as well as critters. Just please keep it of delicate tissues or around the face. The volatile compounds transfer through toilet paper I discovered when I had used it on my elbow and not washed hands properly before using the toilet.