Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nutmeg

I never think about nutmeg except briefly at Thanksgiving to once again note that I have none on my shelf when it's time to make pumpkin pie. Thanks to Dr. Jacob Schor, however, I must reconsider my nutmegless status in the interest of keeping my marbles intact.

This Denver naturopath is a wealth of knowledge about natural remedies of the herbal variety and their value in keeping body and mind intact. He muses over nutmeg whilst grinding same for his holiday recipes, and he includes both recipes and scientific abstracts in his current newsletter.

Of particular interest to me in my never-ending quest for brain protective strategies is news from India about the acetylcholinesterase inhibiting qualities of this spice. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter which allows neurons in charge of memory functions to communicate with one another in order to both make 'em and keep 'em (memories that is).* Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, and the inhibitor of same allows acetylcholine to work longer in the gap between memory-preserving neurons.

That is how current medications for Alzheimer's disease, including Aricept and Exelon, work. London pharmacologists screened a number of Indian herbs for this activity and found that even weensy bits of nutmeg extract diminished the activity of acetylcholinesterase inhibitor by 50%.

I don't even know if I really like nutmeg between never having it in the cupboard and not having a very discerning palate. I think I could learn to like it, however, if it supports my aging brain!
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*This is why anticholinergic medications like benadryl and other antihistamines (used for allergies and sleep), oxybutynin (used for bladder control), and amitryptilline (used for sleep and chronic pain control) can befuddle susceptible older persons and should not be used.

7 comments:

Mauigirl said...

Very interesting. Lots of spices used in India are thought to be beneficial. Curcumin, part of curry, is good against some kinds of cancers, I have read. I try to eat a lot of Indian food!

KGMom said...

So we should try to sprinkle nutmeg randomly here and there?
I have an acquaintance who makes mashed potatoes and adds a dash of nutmeg for a slightly mysterious flavor in the potatoes. It works! Delicious.

Femail doc said...

MG: Turmeric/curcumin (are they the same thing?) I know is good for the brain. I'm about to do a post on that.

KGM: I suppose nutmeg here and there would be a good thing. Maybe you have a recipe that uses it? Mysterious is not an adjective that I routinely associate with mashed potatoes. My husband and son would instantly reject anything mysterious.

dorsey said...

okay, two comments in one day, since I only recently discovered your second site. I make apple sauce through the winter, dump in cinammon,(buy it in bulk), will try to remember nutmeg, too (I read these things and forget, so the trick is to use it quickly and often enough to remember to keep using it). I have curcumin capsules on the kitchen table, waiting for me to take them again. (so, nutmeg to remind me to take . . . )
try nutmeg with yams/sweet potatoes, juice from a clementine, a little ginger.(and chinese five spice for special occasions) Not mysterious but good, don't tell them it's good for them.

Derek said...

do you have some information on where to purchase nutmeg?

femail doc said...

Spice specialty stores here in Denver sell whole nutmegs.

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