This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Nux Moschata Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Nux myriftica fructu rotundo C. B. Nucifta. Myriftica officinalis Linn. Nutmeg: the aromatic kernel of a large nut, produced by a tree said to resemble the pear tree, growing in the Eaft Indies. The outer part of the fruit is a soft fleshy fubflance like that of the walnut, which spontaneously opens when ripe: under this lies a red membrane called mace, forming a kind of reticular covering, through the fissures of which is seen the hard woody shell that includes the nutmeg. Two sorts of this kernel are distinguished: one of an oblong figure, called male; the other roundish, or of the shape of an olive, called female: this last is the officinal species, being preferred to the other on account of its stronger and more agreeable flavour, and its being, as is said, less subject to become carious. The nutmegs are cured, according to Rumphius, by dipping them in a somewhat thick mixture of lime and water, that they may be every where coated with the lime, which contributes to their preservation.
The nutmeg is a moderately warm, grateful, unctuous spice; supposed to be particularly useful in weakness of appetite, and the nauseae and vomitings accompanying pregnancy, and in fluxes; but liable, when taken too freely, to fit very uneasy on the stomach, and, as is said, to affect the head. Roasted with a gentle heat, till it becomes easily friable, it proves less fubject: to these inconveniences, and is supposed likewise to be more useful in fluxes*
Nutmegs, distilled with water, yield nearly one sixteenth (a) their weight of a limpid essential oil, very grateful, possessing the flavour of the spice in perfection, and which is said to have some degree of an antispasmodic or hypnotic (b) power: on the furface of the remaining decoction is found floating an unctuous concrete matter like tallow, of a white colour, nearly insipid, not easily corruptible, and hence recommended as a basis for odoriferous balsams (a): the decoction, freed from this seba-ceous matter, and infpiffated, leaves a weakly bitter fubastringent extract. Rectified spirit takes up, by maceration or digestion, the whole smell and taste of the nutmegs, and receives from them a deep bright yellow colour: the spirit, drawn off by distillation from the filtered tincture, is very slightly impregnated with their flavour; greatest part of the specific smell, as well as the aromatic warmth, bitterifhnefs and fubaftringency of the spice remaining concentrated in the extract. The essential oil, and an agreeable cordial water, lightly flavoured with the volatile parts of the nutmeg by drawing off a gallon or nine pounds of proof spirit from two ounces of the spice, are kept in the shops. Both the oil, and the spirituous tincture and extracts, agree better with weak sto-machs than the nutmegs in substance.
(a) Hoffman, Obfewationes pbyfco-cbymica, lib. i. obf. I.
(b) Mi/cell. nat. curio/or. dec. iii. ann, ii. ebf. 120. Pontius, de medicina Indorum, p. 20.
Ol. effent. nucis mof-chatae Ph. Lond.
Nutmegs, heated, and strongly pressed, give out a fluid yellow oil, which concretes on growing cold into a sebaceous consistence. Rumphius informs us, that in the spice islands, when the nuts are broken, those kernels which appear damaged, carious, or unripe, are sepa-rated for this use, and that seventeen pounds and a quarter of such kernels yield only one pound of oil, whereas, when the nutmeg is in perfection, it is said to afford near one third its own weight.
Two kinds of sebaceous matter, said to be expressed from the nutmeg, are distinguished in the shops by the name of oil of mace: the best best sort, brought from the East Indies in stone jars, is somewhat soft, of a yellow colour, and of a strong agreeable smell greatly resembling that of the nutmeg itself: the other comes from Holland in solid maffes, generally flat and of a square figure, of a paler colour and much weaker smell. These oils are employed chiefly externally in stomach plasters, and in anodyne and nervine unguents and liniments. They appear to be a mixture of the gross sebaceons matter of the nutmeg with a little of the eflfen-tial or aromatic oil; both which may be perfectly separated from one another by maceration or digestion in rectified spirit, or by distillation with water. The spirituous tincture, the dis-tilled water, and the essential oil, are nearly similar to those drawn from the nutmeg itself, the pure white sebaceous substance being left behind.
spir. nucis mooch. Ph. Lond.
* (a) After a fluid essential oil had been procured from nutmegs by distillation, on repeating the process upon the residuum, an oil of a butyraceous consistence arose, which poffeffed the taste and odour of the nutmeg, and was perfectly soluble in alcohol. Gaubii Aaverfar.
Aqua nucis mooch. Ph. Ed.