Is Nutmeg Safe During Pregnancy? Benefits and Risks

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Written by Amy Kaczor RDN

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Nutmeg is a warm and delicious spice, popular for use in desserts, teas, and more. However, is it safe to consume during pregnancy, especially in larger doses?

Overall, nutmeg is a safe and beneficial spice to use during pregnancy in food and culinary amounts. However, avoid consuming larger medicinal doses of nutmeg, including those found in nutmeg supplements, tea, and oil. 

Let’s dive into using nutmeg during pregnancy, including the benefits, drawbacks, and precautions to take!  

Is Nutmeg Safe When Pregnant?

Do you like sprinkling a bit of nutmeg on your dessert? Do you enjoy a nice warm mug of nutmeg tea? 

Nutmeg is a flavorful spice that many people associate with the coziness of wintertime. It is made from the ground inner seed of the nutmeg plant, which is an evergreen tree plant that is native to Indonesia.

In normal food amounts, nutmeg is likely safe and may even be beneficial for pregnant women. 

However, some may desire to get the most benefits out of nutmeg by taking medicinal doses and supplements of nutmeg. Unfortunately, there is not enough quality research-based evidence to demonstrate the safety of these larger amounts of nutmeg.

whole nutmeg seeds and nutmeg powder in a wooden bowl

A case study was published in 1987 regarding a pregnant woman who experienced adverse health effects after consuming excessively high amounts of nutmeg spice (Source: Journal of Reproductive Medicine). 

Therefore, to be on the safe side, stick with consuming your nutmeg in regular food amounts. 

Are There Benefits of Nutmeg During Pregnancy?

Nutmeg is well-known as a spice with antioxidant, antimicrobial, and even anti-diarrheal effects on the body (source: Phytochemistry Reviews). More specifically, antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals naturally occurring in the body. 

Additionally, nutmeg extract has been shown to improve blood sugars and fats and can potentially have a protective effect on the heart and cardiovascular system (source: Phytochemistry Reviews).

However, while using nutmeg in culinary amounts is unlikely to create a significant difference in your health, it can be part of an antioxidant-rich, balanced, and healthy diet. 

Can I Drink Nutmeg in Tea When Pregnant?

We have established that nutmeg is likely safe to consume in food amounts, such as a sprinkle on top of a dessert or as an ingredient in a sweet sauce.

However, nutmeg in tea is more concentrated than in food amounts. Therefore, many wonder if they can drink nutmeg tea or tea blends containing nutmeg during pregnancy.

Nutmeg and herbs such as parsley and dill contain a compound called myristicin (source: Forensic Science International). Studies have shown that myristicin intake in large amounts can cause uterine contractions and even miscarriage, though extremely unlikely (Source: BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine). 

Due to these potential effects that can harm a pregnancy, it is best to avoid drinking nutmeg teas or tea blends containing nutmeg, such as “winter-time” blends, during pregnancy. 

a transparent bottle of nutmeg essential oil with nutmeg seeds

Is Nutmeg Oil Safe During Pregnancy? 

When using essential oils during pregnancy, keep in mind that very limited research is available to determine essential oils’ safety and effectiveness.

Therefore, if you do decide to use essential oils during your pregnancy, it is recommended to start with just one drop and slowly increase up to five, monitoring for any adverse effects or irritation (source: Mayo Clinic). Do not place the essential oil directly on the skin. Instead, use a carrier oil to dilute it and protect your skin. 

With the lack of research on essential oils, specifically scientific research on nutmeg oil during pregnancy, it is best to avoid it while you are pregnant. 

Always speak with a physician before using essential oils during your pregnancy. 

Most information that is available is related to essential oil usage during pregnancy, but nutmeg oil can also potentially be found as an ingredient in food products.

Nutmeg oil in food is not addressed thoroughly in research studies or regulatory guidelines and therefore, it is best to avoid nutmeg oil. As nutmeg oil is more concentrated than culinary amounts of spice and may contain unsafe amounts of myristicin, this compound that may cause uterine contractions should be avoided.

I hope you found this article helpful in unpacking the use and safety of nutmeg during pregnancy!