July 13, 2022
About 30% of Americans experience insomnia, and 10% claims it also triggers negative effects during the day. This is an indication that a third of the U.S. population suffers from insomnia symptoms, which negatively impacts their health in several ways.
Very often simple popular herbal remedies such as valerian, passionflower, skullcap, or Zizyphus seed (suan zao ren) are used for insomnia and are often effective. But when these herbs do not work, many turn to over-the-counter or doctor-prescribed sleeping pills, which can cause serious problems. But before taking pills, you might first try nutmeg.
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), a common kitchen spice with a warming, spicy energy, is used to add flavor to desserts and hot drinks. Called jaiphala in Ayurveda and rou dou kou in TCM, nutmeg is a well-known remedy for diarrhea in both these herbal systems, but lesser known is its usefulness in cases of insomnia. In fact, it is one of the best treatment for insomnia I’ve ever seen. Nutmeg is one of our most powerful herbal sedatives. It possesses potent medicinal properties that can help calm the nerve and release serotonin which induces sleep. In Pakistan, nutmeg is combined with poppy seeds for insomnia. The poppy is well known for its sedative properties, and Western herbalists have recently taken to using California poppy which has mild sedative effects for insomnia. Nutmeg is especially useful for people who tend to awaken too early or in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. Using nutmeg for insomnia can help to reset sleep patterns. However, there are usually other underlying reasons for the insomnia that also need to be addressed. A pinch of freshly grated nutmeg powder in a glass of warm milk before bedtime is a common natural remedy recommended to help treat insomnia and promote better sleep.
Several studies have focused on the insomnia-busting properties of this spice and demonstrated that it could be an effective remedy to help support better sleep. In one study, taking a capsule containing nutmeg for four weeks was found to improve symptoms of insomnia while also enhancing mood and decreasing weakness. Similarly, an animal study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that taking an extract of nutmeg helped significantly increase the duration of sleep in chickens.
Nutmeg takes 2–6 hours to go into effect, so it has to be taken hours before bedtime. The sedative effects of nutmeg last for 8 hours, so the effects need to go into place 8 hours before a person needs to be awake. If someone took nutmeg at 10 p.m., then its effects could last well into the morning hours.
Like all herbs, nutmeg is safe when used in appropriate dosage. The safe dosage of the powder ranges from a pinch (literally as much as you can grab of the powder between your first three fingers) to a teaspoon (about 2g). Nutmeg contains myristicin which strengthens the effect of tryptamine and moderately inhibits monoamine oxidases. Overdose can cause emesis, headache, tachycardia and dry mouth. Five tablespoons can be lethal. In an appropriate dose and a balanced formula, however, it is very safe.
Walk into any grocery store and you’ll find nutmeg in the spice rack. While this nutmeg may give your apple pie a nice taste, this isn’t medicinally potent nutmeg. If you want the best quality nutmeg, then buy the whole nutmeg seed and grate it up as needed. You can use a cheese grater for this or buy a specialty nutmeg grater. Once ground, nutmeg quickly loses its potency. I prefer to use up my freshly ground nutmeg immediately within a few days.
Here are a few other ways to use the wonderful nutmeg spice for the cure of insomnia and sleeplessness.
- Nutmeg and Honey Mix
Combine a pinch of powdered nutmeg spice with a teaspoon of raw honey into a sweet and spicy paste. Eat the paste at least 15-20 minutes before retiring for the day. The concoction will work wonders for your health by inducing sleep and restfulness.
- Nutmeg Tea
Nutmeg tea is an excellent cure for insomnia. Crush the nutmeg and add it to a cup of water. You can also add a teaspoon of nutmeg powder to the cup of water with gentle stirring until the powder dissolves completely. Put the water on the boil and then take it off the flame after a few minutes.
Strain the nutmeg tea into a cup and drink it with slow sips before going to bed at night. The tea will soothe your fatigue away and induce a sense of calmness and relaxation in your mind which will help you sleep at night.
- Milk and Nutmeg Mix
If you like a cup of warm milk before going to bed at night, then remember to add a teaspoon of nutmeg powder to it and stir well before drinking. The blend of milk and nutmeg is incredibly beneficial for the cure for sleep disorders.