TikTok is a social media app focused on social networking via video-sharing.
Users can post short videos about genres like dance, comedy, and education with a duration of fifteen seconds to three minutes. TikTok has become increasingly popular within the last year. However, as entertaining as TikTok is for many, it’s also become a hub for drug-related trends and videos. One drug trend that’s become popular on TikTok is getting high off nutmeg. Nutmeg, or Myristica fragrans, is a common cooking spice used for its warm and sweet flavor. Nutmeg trees in Indonesia grow fruits that contain nutmeg seeds, and from there, the seeds are dried for some weeks and then used to create the spice we all know so well. And while this spice was once most common for its flavor-enhancing abilities, the nutmeg TikTok challenge illustrates other uses for it. But what is the nutmeg challenge on TikTok, and why are people doing it? Can you get high on nutmeg? Our Stuart rehab is laying out the facts.
Yes, nutmeg can make you high. The chemical responsible for a nutmeg high is myristicin, a compound naturally found in certain plants like parsley, dill, and, of course, nutmeg. A nutmeg high is the result of myristicin’s impact on the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system connects the brain to other organs via spinal nerves. When this system is stimulated, these nerves prepare the body for stress by accelerating the heart rate, increasing blood flow to the muscles, and decreasing blood flow to the skin.1 Similar to the compound mescaline found in Peyote, myristicin also affects the central nervous system (CNS) by enhancing a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. The impact of nutmeg’s compound myristicin on the CNS is what produces the high.
The nutmeg challenge originated from a hashtag created by TikTok, which referenced a soccer move, not the spice itself. The soccer more “the nutmeg” requires you to kick a ball between your opponent’s legs and reach it on the other side. As with many other hashtags and social media trends, the nutmeg hashtag was hijacked for videos about eating or smoking nutmeg to get high.
The TikTok nutmeg challenge is when a person consumes two tablespoons of ground nutmeg mixed in water. This concoction is said to produce a hallucinogenic high similar to that of LSD. Experiences of TikTok users who tried the nutmeg challenge ranged from seeing walls “melting” to a marijuana-like high. Others, however, reported less intense experiences characterized by milder side effects like lightheadedness. With so many people allegedly experiencing intense nutmeg hallucinations, it’s worth looking into the history of nutmeg and whether it was used as more than just a spice in the past.
TikTok drug challenges are particularly popular among teens and young adults, especially because the app caters to this age group. The impact of social media on substance abuse is evident in the influence these challenges have on users. These challenges tend to expand users’ curiosity and often encourage them to experiment with harder drugs. Physical dependence and addiction are real problems that often occur due to what’s believed to be casual drug use. Those who have found themselves struggling with a drug or alcohol problem can avoid further complications when receiving treatment, like our medical drug detox in Florida.
Before the 1600s, grated nutmeg was used as a sachet, which is a small perfumed bag used to make clothes smell better, as well as incense in Ancient Rome. The first claim of a nutmeg high or intoxication dates back to 1576 after a pregnant English woman had over ten nutmeg nuts. In the 1600s, nutmeg became an expensive and popular spice in the Western world and was the subject of much foreign trade among the Dutch, English, and French.2 Fast forward to the 19th century, the effects of nutmeg on the central nervous system appeared when Czech scientist Jan Evangelista Purkinje experienced lethargy after eating three nutmeg nuts. Nutmeg abuse has occurred since then; even Malcolm X mentions his using nutmeg to get high while he was incarcerated in his 1965 memoirs, The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He wrote that “nutmeg men'' would exchange their money or cigarettes for matchboxes full of nutmeg that was stolen from the kitchen inmate workers.3
A 2005 case study of an 18-year-old girl who consumed a milkshake that contained nearly 50 grams of nutmeg was released. According to the study, she was treated for side effects that included heart palpitations, nausea, dry mouth, and dizziness. She claimed she felt like she was in a trance but didn’t report any hallucinations.4 10 years later, a medical journal shared the experience of a 37-year-old woman who experienced similar side effects after consuming just two teaspoons of nutmeg.5 A more recent case published in 2019 reported that a 17-year-old boy was taken to the hospital after snorting a tablespoon of nutmeg. He claimed to have been in a trance-like state and experienced vomiting and involuntary muscle movements.6
But is nutmeg dangerous? While research on nutmeg intoxication is sparse, the information we do have points to its ability to produce adverse side effects when consumed in high doses. Because this spice creates a similar high to other hallucinogens like LSD, consuming large amounts of it can flood the central nervous system and produce uncomfortable and even life-threatening symptoms.
Some common side effects of a nutmeg high discovered through various studies include:
Nutmeg poisoning is another serious concern. Myristicin is an extremely potent compound that’s toxic in high doses. People also wonder, “Can nutmeg kill you?” Yes, it can. Nutmeg poisoning has been linked to organ failure and even death when combined with other drugs. According to case studies from the Illinois Poison Center, just 2 teaspoons (10 grams) of nutmeg Is enough to cause toxicity. At 50 grams or more, the symptoms can become life-threatening. According to the studies, there were 32 cases of nutmeg poisonings between 2001 and 2011. Of the 17 cases of unintentional exposures (53.1%), 10 people were under the age of 13 (58.8%).7 It’s understandable why recipes that include nutmeg usually only call for 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon.
A nutmeg overdose can occur no matter how it’s ingested; however, different methods of ingestion can affect when the side effects of nutmeg high begin and how long they last. In general, inhaling or smoking drugs is one of the fastest methods of ingestion. Intravenously injecting a drug is the second-fastest, and the slowest method is taking drugs orally. The risk of nutmeg overdose or poisoning becomes that much more likely in people who attempt to smoke or inject it. While death by nutmeg is rare, cases of poisoning and toxicity are more frequent. In a nutshell, nutmeg is best left for baking.
Experimentation with substance abuse among young teens and adults is a growing concern in the United States. Those who are willing to experiment with “TikTok drugs” and participate in drug-related trends or challenges are usually more open to trying more dangerous drugs. If you or a loved one has a substance abuse problem, call Banyan Detox Stuart now at 888-280-4763 to find out how our Stuart rehab programs can help.