Nutmeg Psychosis

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When I was a youth, back in the Mesozoic Era (or as we used to say, "back in the Zoeys"), I was a card-carrying member of a small band of miscreants. We referred to ourselves as the "Original Cast." There were five of us: myself, Jake, Al, Harry, and Brian. Our interests included: smoking cigarettes, driving around in cars while smoking cigarettes, riding around in cars while smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes at a franchise diner in our neighborhood called Country Kitchen, stealing sundry youth-oriented groceries from the Shell gas station that Al worked at (mainly beef jerky, batteries, and cigarettes) and smoking cigarettes in one of several moist, cold basements or hot, dry attics.

One day, one of us — no one remembers exactly who, although I can tell you for damn sure it wasn't me — discovered girls. That miscreant told the other miscreants, and we spent the remainder of our youth faithfully and often tragically looking for ones that would let us stick parts of us into parts of them. We admitted a few dishy gals into our ranks. Clearly, they were batshit insane to hang out with us. We were ugly and smelly, with a penchant for flannel and an aversion to personal hygiene. Still, they saw enough redeeming qualities within us to offset those two boondoggles to our sexual exploits. We were grateful. And lucky.

One of those silly, silly girls was Jaime. Brian, being the most devastatingly handsome of all of us, wooed Jaime in short order. Expressed in AD&D terms, Brian had an 18 Charisma, a Flannel Jacket of Charming, and a Velvety Voice of Persuasion +5. No girl could make the saving throw necessary to resist him. He also had a car. To the teenage female of the species, in much the same way that strong birthing hips on a woman indicate fertility to the male, the car intimated that Brian could take her down the street to get cigarettes to get her through the long winter.

In any case, while Jaime and Brian were still in the beginning stages of their ballet of courtship, Jaime and I got high.

It's not what you think. A little healthy underage binge drinking was the extent of our mood or mild-altering substance use back in those days. Cheap beer and cigarettes were our poisons. No weed, no X, no crack rock. We were just old fashioned, I guess. Nope, it wasn't that at all. Jaime had heard, from a source that I don't think that either one of us can pinpoint today, that you could get high from nutmeg.

You have to remember the times we were living in back then. Times were tough. The factory had just shut down. Midterms were coming up. The drought had dried up all the crops. Momma had been real sick. Winter was setting in. Could you blame us for searching for something to take the pain away, just for a little while?

The last bit about winter was true. It was late November, and Jaime and I had a date with destiny. I struck out from my house, trusty blue flannel on my back and Marlboro Lights in my chest pocket, through the friscillating dusklight and the cold drizzle, over the glassy, flattened, dead leaves that paved the uneven sidewalks of North Hill, to Jaime's. To get high. On nutmeg. Seriously.

Jaime's mom was gone. It was just the two of us. There, in the dim light of her kitchen, we both probably managed to consume about half a teaspoon of nutmeg each. First, we tried just eating it off of a spoon, which was like trying to eat dense volcanic ash. Next we tried mixing it in milk, but it all just sank to the bottom of the glass before we could down it. After a few more failed attempts, we figured that what we had surely managed to ingest enough to take us on a wonderful journey.

What ensued next was a series of "I think I feel something" exchanges. Anyone who has experimented with substances of dubious origin, potency or effect knows exactly what I'm talking about. The conversation goes something like this:

Hopeful stoner #1: "Wait a minute… I think I feel something."

Hopeful stoner #2: "Yeah, I feel kinda <vague adjective>."

HS1: "Do you also feel sorta <other vague adjective>?"

HS2: "A little bit, yeah."

HS1: "Oh man, this stuff is totally kicking in now. I think."

HS2: "Yeah, I think I feel it now too, a little bit. Yeah."

Our great nutmeg experiment, as you might have guessed, turned out to be a dismal failure. After about half an hour, we gave up on hoping for an altered state to overtake us and put the nutmeg back on the spice rack. How we thought we could ever get high on something so wimpy that it came off of a spice rack, I'll never know.

The truth of the matter is this — neither of us really knew if you could get high off of nutmeg. It's the same as in grade school, when some kid on the playground tells you that babies come from women's belly buttons. You're young, you're gullible, and it sounds reasonable. You just roll with it.

Now we have the Internet. When recess is over, you can Google "babies + belly button" and learn the truth. Well, I Googled "nutmeg + belly button," then just "nutmeg," and guess what? You can get high off of nutmeg. Here are its effects at certain doses:

1 gram: mild to medium hallucinogenic effects, visual distortions, mild euphoria

3 grams: toxic effects become present, including dry mouth, fast pulse, fever, and flushing; possibly fatal

7.5 grams: convulsions, palpitations, nausea, dehydration, and generalized body pain

And get this: any large quantity ingestion of nutmeg can lead to Nutmeg Psychosis. In the words of Dave Barry, I must point out — I am not making this up.

The symptoms of Nutmeg Psychosis are — and these are just the neurological, or "fun" ones, mind you — severe headaches, drowsiness, fitful sleep, convulsions, hallucinations, delirium, unconsciousness, coma, agitation, disorientation, incoherence, euphoria, florid paranoia, vertigo, and a feeling of impending doom.

Oh, and here's a good one too, according to one Web source: "Sometimes unusual behaviour occurs during intoxication such as hysteria and wild thrashing of limbs, and behaviour resembling that of a snarling dog."

In the end, I guess we just didn't want it bad enough to eat what might as well have been heaping spoonfuls of sand. It would have been a letdown anyway, I bet. I'm disoriented, incoherent, agitated and drowsy most of the time anyway. And I always have a feeling of impending doom. I'm going to go grab a beer.

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About Tim Greathouse

During the week, Tim Greathouse is a freelance writer, father and homemaker. Each weekend he dons a suit and performs wedding ceremonies for remarkably cool couples all over his home state of Ohio.
  • Ashamed

    After doing nutmeg, I fell asleep and awoke near death. I crawled into the bathroom my skin sunken in with dark shadows around my eyes, I was completely dehydrated. I then drank water till I began vomiting the water. Luckily I didn’t get water poisoning. I feared my organs were shutting down. In the ER the doctors were researching about nutmeg online. My sister cried since her stupid brother almost died. I Had to get my heart checked by a specialist because my resting heart rate was 160 and the doctors were concerned about permanent damage. I used to be a good nerdy kid, my parents loved me and I gave them so much heartache. My friends made fun of me and I ruined my life with drugs because I didn’t listen. We need God in our lives please don’t repeat my mistake.

  • hugo

    I did this experiment twice with full spoons. It’s actually really hard to eat. But some water helped.
    The effects came as drymouth, irritated skin (like burning or scratching, especially around my face, but also all over my body) and having terrible nightmares everynight for a couple weeks.

    I hope I remember not to try it again…

  • john Anderson

    I did take 2 grams of nutmeg by packing it into gelatin capsules and washing it down with a six pack of coca cola. I had no awareness of anything changing until I went to sleep. That night, and for about three months afterwards, I would wake up in the middle of the night, able to see the room clearly though I was completely paralyzed. I would watch my mind as it examined the room for noises and images that could indicate some kind of problem, then watch as my mind would make it so. The blinds on the window became bars of prison, my room mates snoring became the sound of a huge bear smashing down the door to kill me. Mercifully, it ended after a few months.