This is really embarrassing.
Tuesday was going to be a long day at work, with that Youth Expo booth that I’d be working from 6-8pm. So I really wanted to get a good night’s sleep Monday night.
I’ve tried different sleep aids in the past. Melatonin gave me headaches the next day, exercise in the evening simply gave me a shot of adrenaline, and alcohol interrupted my sleep every single time. What to do?
Then, while washing and putting away the dishes after dinner, I remembered a yoga teacher in Austin (who had lived for years in an ashram, and has my respect) telling me years ago that nutmeg, the common kitchen spice, could make a person drowsy. My interpretation: “natural sleep aid”. I’d never tried it, though.
So Monday evening, standing in the kitchen, just before putting a tablespoon (or two? Maybe more? Not sure… just dumped the rest that was in the little plastic baggie I’d gotten at the health food store) of nutmeg in my water and drinking it down, I thought, “Maybe I should google this first…” But then I glanced up at our spice cabinet… salt, sugar, pepper… all just cooking spices. And I’d just been cooking with nutmeg on Sunday. What harm could nutmeg POSSIBLY do?
Tuesday morning, I learned.
Woke up about 5:30 to pounding heart, disorientation, dizziness, nausea, and a host of other side effects. But because I didn’t know this about nutmeg, I had no IDEA it was even related. I didn’t know what was going on.
Then it dawned on me that there might be a connection; and my heart sank. Stumbled over to the computer and managed to type in something coherent into the google search… And discovered that the awful side effects don’t begin to manifest until after 3 to 9 hours after ingestion. They were just beginning right then.
What I could expect: http://www.livestrong.com/article/408029-side-effects-of-eating-nutmeg/
After stumbling through the recorded menu of options (“if you’re freaking out, press one…”) I finally got connected with Pam, my new best friend in the world who was working the poison control emergency hotline. Explained my situation as calmly as I could. She started looking up information for me. The more she looked, the faster she talked, until I finally heard her mention the word “concern”. She had buried that word near the end of a very long string of words, but it jumped out at me like a neon sign in the darkness.
“‘Concern’?” I interrupted. That’s supposed to go at the very beginning, not somewhere down near the bottom of the verbal page, I thought. Like this: “I’m concerned. (pause for emphasis) I don’t want to alarm you but…” Didn’t she know the rules for crisis hotline engagement?
Finally, she was talking too fast. It was too much. I had to stop her if I was ever going to get to ask her my specific questions. You know, “Am I gonna die?” That sort of thing.
“Pam, I need your help, but you’re talking too much,” I said as calmly as I could. I was being rude… interrupting. This was no way to talk to someone I’d just met. She stopped and listened. She was kind and understanding; created space for me to ask my questions. Didn’t even seem to hold a grudge against me for cutting in.
For the rest of the conversation, I felt a little guilty for having interrupted Pam. How much of this had to do with being looped out of my skull when I was supposed to be getting ready for work, and how much with the nuns back in elementary school?
As long as I had someone watching me, it would probably be okay to stay home. Cheryl took the day off and stayed with me, calling and getting guidance from two family friends with nursing expertise. Aside from waking up every 2-3 hours, I’ve been mostly asleep for the past 24 hours. Mouth so dry it feels like cardboard. Stomach so numb it may as well be someone else’s. No appetite for the past 24 hours. That is NOT normal for me. And the constant feeling like I’m about to fall over. Again and again and again.
Apparently it can take 2-3 days to get over these side effects, and mine are mostly gone. I’m still feeling a little too woozy to drive and function today, but I expect to be okay tomorrow morning.
All this, courtesy of my kitchen spice rack.
No, that’s not true. Actually, all this, courtesy of my restless unwillingness to take 30 seconds to check out the effects of what I’m about to put into my body.
If you hear anyone talking about nutmeg outside the context of cooking, please send them my way.
For the past year I have (very carefully) experimented with taking 1/4 teaspoon (tsp) of ground nutmeg with water before bed. I have had consistently favorable results. No negative side effects, and improved sleep without added drowsiness the next morning. Note: I’m talking about one level measurement of 1/4 teaspoon only in any given 24 hour period.
When I used 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg in conjunction with 1 tablespoon of the over-the-counter magnesium supplement “CALM”, I experienced even better results.
At this point, having tested this for a year, I feel comfortable drawing the conclusion that ingesting 1/4 teaspoon (and no more!) of nutmeg in the evening is a good way to go in my life. As always, I’m only sharing my personal experience, and do not take responsibility for any results you may encounter. Please be very careful.
Here’s to your health!