Active Ingredients. - Nutmegs contain about 30 per cent. of a concrete oil, which, when extracted by means of heat and expression, receives the name of butter of nutmegs. In commerce it occurs in solid, oblong, brick-shaped cakes, of an orange color, and possessed of the agreeable and aromatic odor of the nut. Ordinarily they are wrapped in the leaves of some endogenous plant. This primary or concrete oil is soluble in four times its weight of boiling alcohol, and in twice its weight of ether.

Upon analysis it yields a fixed oil, or fat, which is solid and crystalliz-able, melts at 118° F., and contains myristic acid (C14H17OHO) in combination with glycerine. The myristic acid crystallizes in silky needles. In addition to the fixed oil, there is a volatile "one (the same as that obtained by distillation), which is colorless or pale yellow, and has the peculiar smell and taste of the nutmeg itself. Sp. gr., 0.95.

Physiological Action. - Nutmeg, like other spices, if taken in moderate quantity, is cordial and carminative, and has an agreeably stimulating effect. In excess, on the other hand, it proves narcotic, and causes giddiness, oppression of the chest, intense thirst, headache, delirium, and stupor. In particular constitutions, symptoms analogous to those produced by narcotic poisons are developed. Even apoplexy, with a fatal termination, is said to have resulted from the excessive use of nutmeg. Cullen is emphatic in his recommendation that persons who are believed to have a tendency towards apoplexy should abstain from the use of nutmeg as a condiment.

The volatile oil of nutmeg has been shown by experiment to possess rather powerful properties. Applied to the human skin it acts as a decided rubefacient: given to rabbits in doses of two to six drachms, it proved fatal, with symptoms of narcotic-irritant poisoning extending over a few hours or days; the urine had a peculiar smell, which was not that of the oil itself. When the dose was not quite large enough to kill, there was prolonged constipation after recovery from the acute symptoms.

Therapeutic Action. - On account of its cordial, carminative, anodyne, and astringent properties, nutmeg has been employed in diarrhoea and in dysentery, and to relieve nausea and vomiting. For these disorders it is best administered in wine or in brandy-and-water, and in the form of simple powder or grated nutmeg. In mild cases of diarrhoea nutmeg proves an efficient substitute for opium.

As an External Stimulant the oil is occasionally applied to the skin, especially in paralysis and chronic rheumatism.

Mace is in India a favorite medicine in low stages of fever, in consumptive complaints, and in humoral asthma; also (in combination with other aromatics) in long-continued and wasting bowel-complaints.

Preparations and Dose. - Myristica, gr. v. - xv. (.30 - 1.); Spts. Myristicae, 3 ss. - j. (2. - 4.); Oleum Myristicae, mjj. - v. (.10 - .25).