Oleum Myristicae, B.P. Oil of Nutmeg.

Botanical name: 


Related entries: Nutmeg

Oil of nutmeg (Oil of Myristica, U.S.P.) is obtained by distillation from the powdered seeds of Myristica fragrans, Houtt. (N.O. Myristicaceae), a tree indigenous to the Molucca, Banda, and Sunda Islands, cultivated there and also in other countries. It occurs as a mobile, pale yellow, or nearly colourless liquid, becoming viscid with age, and having the characteristic odour of nutmeg, with a warm spicy taste. It should form a clear solution with its own volume of a mixture of equal parts of alcohol and absolute alcohol; on evaporating a little of this alcoholic solution on a water-bath and then cooling there should be no crystalline residue left, thus showing absence of concrete or fixed oil of nutmeg, which is sometimes carried over during the process of distillation. Specific gravity, 0.870 to 0.930 (B.P., 0.910), (0.862 to 0.925 at 25°); rotation, +13° to +30°. Expressed oil of nutmeg or mace (Adeps Myristicae; Oleum Myristicae Expressum) is a concrete oil of a bright orange colour, obtained from nutmegs by expression with heat; it acts as a mild stimulant when applied externally, and is sometimes added to plasters and hair lotions.

Soluble in alcohol (1 in 3), in all proportions of absolute alcohol.

Constituents.—The oil has been the subject of many contradictory statements regarding its composition, but oil from Ceylon nutmegs has been shown to consist chiefly of d-camphene, of which it contains about 80 per cent.; it also contains d-pinene, about 8 per cent. of dipentene, eugenol, isoeugenol, d-linalool, d-borneol, l-terpineol, about 6 per cent. of geraniol, safrol, about 4 per cent. of myristicin, an alcohol yielding a diketone, C8H14O2, an aldehyde resembling citral, myristic or myristinic acid, and small amounts of other acids-including formic, butyric, octoic, and a new monocarboxylic acid-in the form of esters. So-called myristicol is a mixture of alcohols, of which terpineol is the chief. On distillation, about 60 per cent. of the oil passes over below 180°. Oil of nutmeg closely resembles volatile oil of mace in all its properties, and is scarcely distinguishable from it; frequently no commercial distinction is made between the two oils.

Action and Uses.—Oil of nutmeg has the carminative properties of other volatile oils, and is used as a flavouring agent. It is administered on sugar, or as Spiritus Myristicae, and is added to purgative pills to prevent griping. It is mildly counter-irritant, and is sometimes used in liniments and hair lotions. After absorption, oil of nutmeg has greater stimulant properties on the cerebral cortex than any other oil except oil of wormwood; large doses may induce epileptiform convulsions.

Dose.—¼ to 2 decimils (0.025 to 0.2 milliliters) (½ to 3 minims).


Spiritus Myristicae, B.P.—SPIRIT OF NUTMEG.
Oil of nutmeg, 10; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Dissolve the oil of nutmeg in the alcohol, and filter, if necessary through powdered talc. Spirit of nutmeg is used chiefly as a flavouring agent and carminative. Large doses cause delirium and coma. Dose.—3 to 12 decimils (0.3 to 1.2 milliliters) (5 to 20 minims).

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.