Mace (Myristica fragrans)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Aflatoxins, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpineol, basbas (Arabic), basbasah (Arabic), basbaz (Persian), beta-phellandrene, beta-pinene, bicuiba (Portuguese), borneol, buah pala (Malay), bunga pala (Malay), chan thet (Thai), chant heed (Laotian), cineole, dâu khâu (Vietnamese), diarylpropanoids, dihydroguaiaretic acid (DHGA), dilignan, dok chand (Thai), elemicin, estragole, eugenol, fleur de muscade (French), flor de noz moscada (Brazilian Portuguese), foelie (Dutch), gamma-terpinene, gerinol, industan djevisi (Turkish), isoeugenol, jaaiipatrii (Nepali), jaayphala (Hindi), jadikkai (Tamil), jaephal (Hindi), jaiphal (Bengali), jaiphul (Hindi), jaitri (Hindi), jajikaia (Telugu), jajipatri (Sanskrit), jajiphalam (Sanskrit), japatri (Telugu), jathi seed (Malayalam), jathikkai (Thai), jati pattiri (Tamil), jatikka (Tamil), javitri (Hindi), jayaphal (Nepali), josat al teeb (Arabic), jousbuva (Arabic), jouzboyah (Persian), jouzuttib (Arabic), kambang pala (Malay, Java), kembang pala (Malay), licarin-B, lignans (macelignan), ligroin, look jun (Thai), macia (Spanish), macis (French, Spanish), malabaricone B, malabaricone C, meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid (DGA), methoxyeugenol, methyleugenol, moscada (Spanish), moscadeira (Portuguese), moscadero (Spanish), moschokarydo (Greek), muscadier (French), Muskatbaum (German), Muskatblüte (German), muskatnii orekh (Russian), muskatnød (Danish), muskatnogo orekha (Russian), muskatnoi drechi (Russian), Muskatnuβ (German), Muskatnuβbaum (German), muskott (Swedish), myristic acid, myristica, Myristica argentea, Myristica cagayanensis, Myristica fragrans, Myristica malabarica, Myristica officinalis, Myristicaceae (family), Myristicae aril, Myristicae semen, myristicin, neolignans, nhuc dâu khau (Vietnamese), nikuzuku (Japanese), noce moscata (Italian), nogal moscado (Spanish), noix de banda (French), noix muscade (French), nootmuskaat (Dutch), nootmuskaatboom (Dutch), noz moscada (Brazilian Portuguese), nuez moscada (Spanish), nutmeg, nux moschata, nuz moscada (Portuguese), otobaphenol, pala (Indonesian), pala banda (Malay), pattiri (Tamil), pied de muscade (French), resorcinols, rou dou kou (Chinese), rou dou kou yi (Chinese), rou guo (Chinese), rou kou (Chinese), sadikka (Sinhalese), safrole, sekar pala (Malay), sushonaya shelukha (Russian), taiphal (Hindi), taipmal (Hindi), taukau (Chinese), terpene, terpinen-4-ol, terpineol, trimyristin, vicuiba (Telugu), volatile oil, yu guo (Chinese), yu guo hua (Chinese), zadeikpo (Burmese).
Note: This monograph focuses on mace, not nutmeg; mace is the aril (seed covering) of the nutmeg seed (Myristica fragrans).
Nutmeg and mace are two commonly used spices originating from the same tree, Myristica fragrans. Nutmeg is derived from the seed of the tree and mace from the seed covering.
Nutmeg has a history of abuse as a popular recreational psychoactive drug. However, mace does not have a history of this use.
Based on human study, mace extract, when used as part of a chewing gum, may decrease plaque and gingivitis. Although not well studied in humans, mace extract may also have antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects. Mace is a popular medicine in India to treat measles.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
In human study, chewing gum containing mace extract resulted in reduced plaque and gingival inflammation. Additional study is needed in this area.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Abortifacient (induces abortion), anesthetic, antibacterial, antifungal, antihistamine, antioxidant, antispasmodic (suppresses spasms), antiviral, anxiety, arthritis, bad breath, blood clots, breast milk stimulant, cancer, cervical cancer, childbirth (topical), colon cancer, dental caries, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, dyspepsia (indigestion), epilepsy, fever, flavoring agent, food preservative, gas, gastric cancer, gastritis, gastrointestinal disorders, hallucinogenic, heart disease, Helicobacter pylori infection, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hypnotic, immune function, inflammation, insecticidal, insomnia, kidney disease, leukemia, liver protection, lung cancer, malaria, measles, memory, menstrual flow stimulant, mouth sores, narcotic, nausea, nerve damage, osteoporosis, pain relief, preservative, psychosis, radiation protection, schizophrenia, sedative, sexual dysfunction, skin cancer, skin conditions, sleep, ulcers, vomiting, weight loss.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Various doses have been studied, but there is no proven effective dose for mace.
For gingivitis, chewing gum containing mace extract after every meal has been used.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for mace in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to plants in the Myristicaceae family, including mace and nutmeg. An immediate asthmatic reaction to mace, following inhalation, has been reported. Contact dermatitis has been reported in sensitive individuals.
Side Effects and Warnings
Mace may alter blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Drowsiness or sedation may occur. Use caution if driving or operating heavy machinery, or if taking sedatives or central nervous system depressants.
Mace may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, about possible interactions.
Avoid use of mace in doses higher than normally found in the diet. Toxic effects of a related herb (nutmeg), through accidental or intentional exposure, may result in severe cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurologic, ocular, and psychiatric adverse events. High doses of mace may cause euphoria and hallucinations.
Avoid large amounts of mace in pregnant women.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to plants in the Myristicaceae family, including mace and nutmeg.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Although normal dietary consumption of mace is likely safe in pregnant and breastfeeding women, medicinal doses are not recommended due to potential abortion-inducing effects.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Mace may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Mace may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs that use the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these drugs may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potential serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package insert and speak with their qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, about possible interactions.
Mace may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some drugs. Examples include sedatives, benzodiadepin (such as lorazepam (Ativan®) or diazepam (Valium®)), barbiturates (such as phenobarbital), narcotics (such as codeine), some antidepressants, and alcohol. Caution is advised while driving or operating machinery.
Mace may also interact with anesthetics, antianxiety agents, antibiotics, anticancer drugs, antifungals, anti-inflammatory agents, antiprotozoal agents, antiulcer drugs, calcium channel blockers, central nervous system depressants, cholesterol lowering drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors, dental and periodontal agents, immune system altering agents, pain relievers (analgesics), or weight loss agents.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Mace may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.
Mace may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements that use the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of these herbs or supplements may be increased in the blood and may cause increased effects or potential serious adverse reactions.
Mace may increase the amount of drowsiness caused by some herbs or supplements, such as herbs and supplements with antidepressant or sedative effects.
Mace may also interact with anesthetics, antianxiety herbs and supplements, antibacterials, anticancer herbs and supplements, antifungals, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiprotozoal herbs and supplements, antiulcer herbs and supplements, betel nut, central nervous system depressants, cholesterol lowering herbs and supplements, dental and periodontal herbs and supplements, immune system altering herbs and supplements, pain relievers (analgesics), or weight loss herbs and supplements.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Ballal, M., Pradeep, and Shivananda, P. G. Myristica fragrans [nutmeg] and its activity against the enteric pathogens. Indian J.Pathol.Microbiol. 2003;46(3):524-525. View Abstract
Burdock, G. A. and Carabin, I. G. Safety assessment of myristic acid as a food ingredient. Food Chem.Toxicol. 2007;45(4):517-529. View Abstract
Checker, R, Chatterjee, S, Sharma, D, et al. Immunomodulatory and radioprotective effects of lignans derived from fresh nutmeg mace (Myristica fragrans) in mammalian splenocytes. Int Immunopharmacol 2008; 8(5):661-9. View Abstract
Chung, JY, Choo, JH, Lee, MH, et al. Anticariogenic activity of macelignan isolated from Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) against Streptococcus mutans. Phytomedicine 2006;13(4):261-266. View Abstract
Forrest, J. E. and Heacock, R. A. Nutmeg and mace, the psychotropic spices from Myristica fragrans. Lloydia. 1972;35(4):440-449. View Abstract
Grover, J. K., Khandkar, S., Vats, V., et al, D. Pharmacological studies on Myristica fragrans--antidiarrheal, hypnotic, analgesic and hemodynamic (blood pressure) parameters. Methods Find.Exp.Clin.Pharmacol. 2002;24(10):675-680. View Abstract
Jannu, LN, Hussain, SP, and Rao, AR. Chemopreventive action of mace (Myristica fragrans, Houtt) on DMBA-induced papillomagenesis in the skin of mice. Cancer Lett 1991;56(1):59-63. View Abstract
Olajide, O. A., Ajayi, F. F., Ekhelar, A. I., et al. Biological effects of Myristica fragrans (nutmeg) extract. Phytother.Res. 1999;13(4):344-345. View Abstract
Park, E. Y., Shin, S. M., Ma, C. J., Kim, Y. C., and Kim, S. G. meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid from Machilus thunbergii down-regulates TGF-beta1 gene expression in activated hepatic stellate cells via inhibition of AP-1 activity. Planta Med 2005;71(5):393-398. View Abstract
Parle, M, Dhingra, D, and Kulkarni, SK. Improvement of mouse memory by Myristica fragrans seeds. J Med Food 2004;7(2):157-161. View Abstract
Sell, A. B. and Carlini, E. A. Anesthetic action of methyleugenol and other eugenol derivatives. Pharmacology 1976;14(4):367-377. View Abstract
Stein, U, Greyer, H, and Hentschel, H. Nutmeg (myristicin) poisoning--report on a fatal case and a series of cases recorded by a poison information centre. Forensic Sci Int 4-15-2001;118(1):87-90. View Abstract
Tajuddin, Ahmad, S, Latif, A, Qasmi, IA, et al. An experimental study of sexual function improving effect of Myristica fragrans Houtt. (nutmeg). BMC Complement Altern Med 2005;5:16. View Abstract
Tezuka, Y., Irikawa, S., Kaneko, T., et al. Screening of Chinese herbal drug extracts for inhibitory activity on nitric oxide production and identification of an active compound of Zanthoxylum bungeanum. J.Ethnopharmacol. 2001;77(2-3):209-217. View Abstract
Yang, S., Na, M. K., Jang, J. P., Kim, K. A., Kim, B. Y., Sung, N. J., Oh, W. K., and Ahn, J. S. Inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B by lignans from Myristica fragrans. Phytother Res 2006;20(8):680-682. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017