Nutmeg is a spice in the Myristicaceae
family of plants. The spice is made from the brown seed kernel inside the fruit pit of the plant. The spice mace
is made from the same plant, but is from the red or purple lacy covering on the pit. If allergic to one, you would likely be allergic to the other.
Nutmeg is NOT a nut, so does not have to be avoided if you are allergic to tree nuts or peanuts.
Nutmeg contains isoeugenol which is a chemical compound which can cause contact allergies - it is found in nutmeg oil which can be added to foods and cosmetics for flavour or fragrance.
There are no recorded allergens for nutmeg by the World Health Organization (WHO), because there have not been enough study into allergic effects from this food. If you are interested in what is needed by the WHO before they add an allergen to their allergen database you can check that out HERE
Nutmeg is a low FODMAP food. FODMAP
stands for F
olyols. Foods high in FODMAPs can cause symptoms of food intolerance, affecting the gastro intestinal system and this can be mistaken for a true IgE food allergy.
Nutmeg is a food high in salicylates
. Salicylates have the potential to cause worsening of asthma, swelling, itching and hives as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to salicylates.
You can read more about Food Intolerances
on the dedicated Food Intolerance Page.
Nutmeg oils contain isoeugenol, which is a contact allergen which can cause contact allergic dermatitis.
Nutmeg and mace are made from the same plant, so if suffering from allergic symptoms to one it is likely that you will also be allergic to the other.
Other plants which contain eugenol include allspice, bay leaf, basil, cinnamon, turmeric, marjoram, mace, clove, pepper, ginger, oregano and thyme.
Note these food lists are not exhaustive, the most up to date information is on the Cross Reactivity Tool.
Allergen Encyclopedia - Nutmeg
Anaphylaxis Campaign - Nutmeg
Science Direct - Isoeugenol
Science Direct - Nutmeg
DermNet NZ - Fragrance and Perfume Contact Allergies
FODMAPedia - Nutmeg
Articles and Journals
Allergic reactivity for different dilutions of eugenol in repeated open application test and patch testing, 2023
Severe allergic reaction to allspice, a hidden food allergen, 2022
Systemic Contact Dermatitis to Spices: Report Of A Rare Case, 2021
Nutmeg overdose: Spice not so nice, 2019
Occupational exposure and respiratory health problems among nutmeg production workers in Grenada, the Caribbean, 2017
Bioactivities of Ethanolic Extracts of Three Parts (Wood, Nutmeg and Mace) from Myristica fragrans Houtt, 2016
Spice allergy evaluated by results of patch tests, 1993
Contact allergy to spices, 1990
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