If you are looking to spice up your sex life, look no further than nutmeg, a commonly used spice with proven effects for increased drive, duration, and intimacy. Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this effect before, as it was only traditionally considered an aphrodisiac within Indian and Arab cultures. That is, until a recent study by Indian researchers brought this cultural lore into the limelight of scientific sexual research.
While you might roll your eyes when it comes to aphrodisiac foods, don’t be so quick to dismiss the potential of food to promote sexual desire. After all, nearly every culture around the world has its own traditions around what foods increase sexual activity and sexual desire. When the worldwide cultural evidence is taken in conjunction with scientific backing, it is quite possible to find that some foods (under some circumstances) can increase the libido.
The Sexy History of Nutmeg
Nutmeg originated in the spice islands, specifically one called Banda, where it was actually never used as a condiment. Once it was discovered by outsiders, it was spread by spice traders, and popped up as a culinary herb within India as far back as 700 B.C.E. It’s named for the extremely potent odor found most strongly in its fresh state. When ripe, fresh nutmeg was rumored to cause birds to fall from the sky. While this musky scent is still a primary reason it is used today for cooking, it’s unlikely the smell was the cause for the death of any birds. After its discovery by local traders, nutmeg’s origins were kept secret in order to control lucrative market shares. The secret was only kept until Portuguese traders discovered the island of Banda, and after they lost control to the Dutch in 1621, the availability and popularity of nutmeg quickly spread throughout the rest of the known world.
Outside of its culinary roots, nutmeg has long been used for its inebriating effects as well as for its aphrodisiac potential. While both effects have been documented, there is likely some overlap between the two. After all, many mind-altering drugs also increase sexual activity, the most famous example being alcohol. Many Arab nations have a long history of using nutmeg in lieu of alcohol for its drug-like effects, for example it was used in Egypt in lieu of hashish and is still used in Zanzibar (Tanzania) by local women before weddings. As the lore in Zanzibar maintains, consumption of nutmeg promotes sexual activity and is thought to loosen inhibitions.
The Science Behind Nutmeg as an Aphrodisiac
Like we mentioned earlier, there is some initial evidence proving the effectiveness of nutmeg as an aphrodisiac. This research was published in 2005, by the Aligarh Muslim University in Aligarh, India and titled An experimental study of sexual function improving effect of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg). The team of researchers conducting the study used an animal model to test for any apparent changes in sexual activity after a dose of nutmeg. The test lasted for seven days, and consisted of two groups of lab rats, one being the control and the other group was given a 50% ethanolic extract of nutmeg.
What the researchers discovered was that they had created much more sexually active and sexually interested male rats through the nutmeg therapy. That they looked only into the male rat population is interesting, as the aphrodisiac properties of nutmeg were traditionally used on women. However, what the researchers found was a wide variety of areas where the male rats showed increased libido. For example, male rats were found to have far more erections than the control group, and also engaged in mounting activity far more frequently. The male rats also left less time in between their sexual encounters than normal, and experienced a delayed ejaculation. These results sound extremely similar to the effects of Viagra on men.
Although it is hard to relate the sexual activity of rats to an enhanced libido (after all you cannot interview a rat about his sexual desires versus his sexual activities), the researchers of this study tried to perform a libido control. In a following trial, the researchers put local anesthetic on the genitals of the male rats, and still found increased mounting, leading one to conclude that nutmeg benefits go far beyond simply increasing sex drive.
A Word of Caution
If taken in reasonable quantities (some sources mention a mild dose as under 2-3 grams), the effects people have reported are those of relaxation, euphoria, mood elevation, and a mild dream like state. This is likely where the aphrodisiac nature comes into play. However, great care should be taken when consuming nutmeg in any abnormal quantity, as it can cause people to become delirious, to black out, to lose coordination, and require urgent medical care. The history of use as a second-class drug by prisoners, seamen and other soldiers does not mean it is safe to use in larger doses considering in the most severe overdoses, it can be lethal.