TikTok: Nutmeg Challenge
By Carlos Franco — July 20, 2022.
Twitter: @itstechnical_cf | Glasp: @CarlosCFranco | BuyMeACoffee: @CarlosCFranco
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is for educational purposes only.
- Myristica oil
- TikTok Trend
- Myristica fragrans (Houtt)
Insider.com published an article on April 20, 2020, about the viral TikTok ‘Nutmeg Challenge’ (not endorsed by the social media company) in which people record themselves consuming large amounts of the spice nutmeg to achieve intoxication (1). This so-called ‘challenge’ first appeared in the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020–2021 (2). Newsweek.com included the nutmeg challenge in its 21 Dangerous TikTok Trends Every Parent Should Be Aware of on March 06, 2021.
What is Nutmeg?
Nutmeg is a common household cooking spice made from the seed of a native evergreen tree called Myristica fragrans (Houtt) (3,4). Although the plant is native to the Moluccas and Banda Islands in the South Pacific, it is rarely found growing wild. It is grown commercially in tropical regions like Indonesia and imported to the United States (4).
Nutmeg is most commonly encountered by Americans during the fall and winter when it is used as an ingredient in foods such as pumpkin pie and eggnog (5). However, most recipes that call for nutmeg use the spice sparingly. For example, a Today.com article titled Homemade Pumpkin Pie called for 3/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg for an entire pie meant to serve several people (6).
What exactly is the ‘Challenge’?
The nutmeg challenge is not a contest or game per se; instead, it should be interpreted as a dare or something posted to gain views and followers to the posters’ TikTok accounts. It essentially involves ingesting the spice (usually dissolved in a liquid and drunk) to achieve the hallucinogenic effects at intoxicating doses. Intoxication usually occurs after consuming five to twenty grams of ground nutmeg — depending on the individual (3). The intoxication results begin around three to six hours after consumption and last 12 to 24 hours (3).
What happens after someone takes that much nutmeg?
The side effects of taking a large amount of nutmeg can vary and are influenced by a couple of factors: the age, health, and size of the person taking it; and the amount taken. The compounds in nutmeg thought to cause the ill effects are myristicin and elemicin (7,8).
Side effects may include (Listed Alphabetically) (4,9):
- Abdominal pain
- Agitation & Anxiety
- Altered state of mind: confusion, impending sense of doom, hallucination
- Double vision
- Dry throat and mouth
- Eye irritation
- Flushed skin
- Profuse sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
What should I do if I or someone I know takes too much nutmeg?
Seek medical attention as soon as possible. Contact Poison Control: 1-(800)222–1222 and emergency services: (911), and provide them with the following information about the person who took the nutmeg (7):
- Person’s age, weight, and condition
- Name of the product (ingredients, if known)
- The time it was swallowed
- The amount that was swallowed
- webPOISONCONTROL® (1–800–222–1222) (https://www.poison.org/) The webPOISONCONTROL is an innovative, online triage tool and app that guides users faced with a poison emergency through a series of simple questions to determine the toxicity.
- SAMHSA’s National Helpline (1–800–662-HELP (4357)) (https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/national-helpline) The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA) Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1–800–273-TALK (8255)) or now (988)(https://988lifeline.org/) The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals in the United States.
See a list of the key highlights from the sources consulted and cited in this article on Glasp using the following link; or by searching the tag: H1 Nutmeg Challenge From the search bar on Glasp’s landing page.
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://www.insider.com/nutmeg-challenge-tiktok-dangerous-high-viral-2020–4
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32620571/
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://www.aacc.org/science-and-research/toxin-library/nutmeg
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://inchem.org/documents/pims/plant/pim355.htm
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://www.today.com/food/what-nutmeg-t245159
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://www.today.com/recipes/homemade-pumpkin-pie-t54811
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123864543007624
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/7824322
- Accessed on July 20, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002899.htm
Carlos is a technical and medical freelance writer who specializes in online education content. Copyright© 2022, 2023. All rights reserved.