Nutmeg is not a nut and does not pose a risk to people with nut allergies. Allergy to nutmeg does occur but seems to be rather rare. Nutmeg comes from Myristica fragrans an evergreen tree originally from Indonesia.
Nutmeg is considered to be one of the most tragic spices in history as many wars have been fought and many have died in an attempt to gain control over its supply. Rich people would use nutmeg grinders to grind this spice into alcoholic drinks. It was also baked into the pastries, pies, and cakes.
Nutmeg has a distinctive pungent fragrance and a warm slightly sweet taste. It is hallucinogenic. Grinding and eating one nut will have an effect and generally makes you sick and nauseated. Nutmeg helps with indigestion, bad breath, depression and may act as a sleep aid.
Nutmeg and mace have similar taste qualities, nutmeg having a slightly sweeter and mace a more delicate flavour. It is known as Jaiphal in most parts of India. It is also used in small quantities in garam masala. In soups it works with tomatoes, slit pea, chicken or black beans. It is an integral part of many Indian sweet dishes.
Nutmeg may help boost mood, enhance blood sugar control, and reduce risk factors for heart disease. Studies in humans are needed to further investigate these potential health benefits.
The essential oil is obtained by the steam distillation of ground nutmeg and is used heavily in the perfumery and pharmaceutical industries. The oil is colourless or light yellow and smells and tastes of nutmeg. The nutmeg tree is a small evergreen tree, usually 5–13 m (16–43 ft) tall, but occasionally reaching 20 m (66 ft). The tree may bear fruit for more than 60 years.