I’m laughing but it’s not funny: a nutmeg warning

December 10, 2008

Nutmeg can be toxicYesterday morning I woke up early and did an hour of yoga before leaving for work. It was one of those days you just feel great. As I often do, I cooked up some whole grains for breakfast. I usually add cinnamon, raisins and fresh fruit. But I had the idea to include some nutmeg for a cozy, seasonal variation.

I was in a big rush so without looking I shook it in – but ooops! The nutmeg didn’t have a lid with holes, it was just an open bottle mouth and I’d dumped in a whole lot more than I wanted. I tried to scoop it out but finally just mixed it in and decided breakfast may taste a little bitter today, oh well.

I typically don’t do this, but I stopped for a small coffee on my way to work. At about 11am I noticed I was a little shaky and blamed it on the coffee.

Around 3pm I started to feel really weird. My boss came in and was talking to me and all I could think was “Are we really having this conversation right now? Is he HIGH?” I felt like things around me just weren’t right.

Then I started to get really lightheaded, nauseous, and freezing cold. I thought I might faint. Around 4:30 I dragged myself to a couch on another floor of the building (of course too embarrassed and discombobulated to say anything to anyone) and tried to sleep a little. But my sleep felt more like waving in and out of consciousness, waking up every few minutes with a start.

Finally, I went to the bathroom and noticed my eyes were bloodshot red and I had the worst cottonmouth. Every little noise sent me reeling and I felt like my chest was heavy and I might forget to inhale.

I called my husband and had him bring me to the emergency room, where we waited and waited to be seen. It must have been 8pm. By then, I started to come out of it a little. I felt like my eyes were focusing properly and I was fully conscious.

By the time we saw a doctor I had no visible symptoms. I recounted this tale to 3 doctors, they tested my blood glucose, did a pregnancy test (negative) and an EKG. Everything was fine. I declined an IV and we finally went home around midnight. They told me to eat chicken soup and drink a lot of fluids.

So that’s it, huh? Maybe a seizure, maybe a really crazy anxiety attack? Maybe it’s something I ate?

Which got me thinking, what did I EAT?? Maybe I’m not getting enough iron? Maybe it was that little cup of coffee? The only other thing I could think of was that mishap with the nutmeg. This morning I had to stay home from work so I did a very quick google search and found myself reading things like:

Nutmeg is perhaps the most readily-available psychoactive substance apart from coffee, alcohol, and chocolate depending on how you classify them…Since nutmeg is a deliriant and produces dizziness and disorientation at recreational doses, the nausea can be compounded and vomiting can occur. Perhaps the most difficult nutmeg side effects are those that involve drying of the mucous membranes. You are going to be in for the worst cottonmouth you’ve ever experienced…
– from http://psychoactivation.com/nutmeg-side-effects

One interesting footnote is that during the nutmeg high’s peak…nervousness manifested itself in alarm at sudden noises of any kind. If the clock chimed for the hour, or the refrigerator motor stopped, I turned my head quickly and shuddered in surprise which quickly dissipated. Silence and calm felt best for me. I had fears about losing control over my actions, or at one point of ceasing to breathe. To some extent this was simply inexperience with nutmeg and fear over its effects. However I did notice a few times that I had forgotten to inhale. I would nod my head forward, doze briefly and then open my eyes and realize I needed to inhale again.
-from http://www.truthtree.com/Nutmeg.shtml

There are a tons of links out there describing nutmeg’s psychoactive properties and side effects. According to health services at Columbia University, as little as 2 tsp. of ground nutmeg can do the trick. And apparently it’s a known fact that it takes a good 2-6 hours to start feeling the effects.

It all describes my experience perfectly. Unbelievable!! I don’t know if I feel like a moron for overdosing on nutmeg accidentally, or like a genius for figuring this out!

It’s now noon the following day and I still feel a bit off. The articles say it can take a few days for the nutmeg hangover to wear off. Seriously? A nutmeg hangover? So much for a real food breakfast…maybe I should stick to Dunkin Donuts. Haha.

Please share this information, especially in the fall and winter when everyone starts breaking out the nutmeg. You could save your friends and family from a very scary experience.