Nutmeg (myristicin) poisoning--report on a fatal case and a series of cases recorded by a poison information centre

Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Apr 15;118(1):87-90. doi: 10.1016/s0379-0738(00)00369-8.


In literature, cases of nutmeg abuse have been described repeatedly, but only one fatal case of poisoning was reported [1]. In the present case, myristicin (4 microg/ml) was detected for the first time in the postmortal serum of a 55-year-old woman. Identification was achieved with the aid of UV-VIS spectroscopy and TLC; for quantification, HPLC was used. Because also flunitrazepam (0.072 microg/ml) was found, death had probably been due to the combined toxic effect of both substances. From 1996 to 1998, in a series of cases, seven poisonings with nutmeg were recorded by the Erfurt Poison Information Centre. Even where higher doses (20-80 g of powder) had been ingested, a life-threatening situation was never observed. In one of these cases, a myristicin blood level of 2 microg/ml was measured 8h after ingestion of two to three tablespoonful of nutmeg powder (approx. 14-21 g, or 280-420 mg/kg).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / blood*
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / poisoning
  • Benzyl Compounds*
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dioxolanes / blood*
  • Dioxolanes / metabolism
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Flunitrazepam / blood*
  • Flunitrazepam / poisoning
  • Forensic Medicine
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Poison Control Centers
  • Pyrogallol / analogs & derivatives
  • Spices / poisoning*
  • Stomach / chemistry


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Benzyl Compounds
  • Dioxolanes
  • Pyrogallol
  • myristicin
  • Flunitrazepam