December 10, 2008
I had an incredibly weird experience yesterday that I want to share as sort of a public service announcement. If you have nutmeg in your pantry, please read on...
Yesterday morning I woke up early and did an hour of yoga before leaving for work. It was one of those days you just feel great. Like I do every morning, I cooked up some whole grains for breakfast. I always add cinnamon, raisins and fresh fruit. But I had the idea to include some nutmeg for a real Christmas-y winter-y variation. I'm always in a big rush by the time I'm packing up breakfast, so without looking I shook my usual amount of cinnammon in, then the nutmeg – but ooops! the nutmeg didn't have a lid with holes, it was just an open bottle mouth. I dumped a fair amount into my breakfast so I tried to scoop it out but finally just mixed it in and decided breakfast may taste a little bitter today, oh well.
I typically don't do this, but I stopped for a small coffee on my way to work. At about 11am I noticed I was a little shaky and blamed it on the coffee. Then, around 3pm I started to feel really weird. My boss came in and was talking to me and all I could think was "Are we really having this conversation right now? Is he HIGH?" I felt like things around me just weren't right. Then I started to get really lightheaded, nauseous, and freezing cold. Sometimes I have a fainting tendency and thought maybe that's what was happening, although it didn't feel any better when I got on my office floor to lie down. And I never fainted. Around 4:30 I dragged myself to a couch on another floor of the building (of course too embarrassed and discombobulated to say anything to anyone) and tried to rest and maybe sleep a little. But my sleep felt more like waving in and out of consciousness, waking up every few minutes with a start. When I went to the bathroom I noticed my eyes were totally bloodshot red and I had the worst cottonmouth. Every little noise sent me reeling and I felt like I wasn't breathing, like my chest was heavy and I might forget to inhale. After an hour it wasn't getting any better so I called my husband and had him bring me to the emergency room.
Rush hour in Boston means I didn't get to the ER for another half hour, then we waited and waited to be seen. I started to come out of it a little, by 8pm. I felt like my eyes were focusing properly and I was fully conscious. Still a little shaky, but overall much better. By the time we saw a doctor I had no visible symptoms. I recounted this tale to 3 doctors, they tested my blood glucose, did a pregnancy test (negative) and an EKG. Everything was fine. I declined an IV and we finally went home around midnight. They told me to eat chicken soup and drink a lot of fluids.
So that's it, huh? Maybe a seizure, maybe a really crazy anxiety attack? Maybe it's something I ate? Which got me thinking, what did I EAT?? Maybe I'm not getting enough iron (but what about all that kale I had for dinner and lunch?). Maybe it was that little cup of coffee? The only other thing I could think of that was odd abount my meals lately was that mishap with the nutmeg. This morning I had to stay home from work so I did a very quick google search to find:
Nutmeg is perhaps the most readily-available psychoactive substance apart from coffee, alcohol, and chocolate depending on how you classify them...Since nutmeg is a deliriant and produces dizziness and disorientation at recreational doses, the nausea can be compounded and vomiting can occur. Perhaps the most difficult nutmeg side effects are those that involve drying of the mucous membranes. You are going to be in for the worst cottonmouth you’ve ever experienced...
One interesting footnote is that during the nutmeg high’s peak...nervousness manifested itself in alarm at sudden noises of any kind. If the clock chimed for the hour, or the refrigerator motor stopped, I turned my head quickly and shuddered in surprise which quickly dissipated. Silence and calm felt best for me. I had fears about losing control over my actions, or at one point of ceasing to breathe. To some extent this was simply inexperience with nutmeg and fear over its effects. However I did notice a few times that I had forgotten to inhale. I would nod my head forward, doze briefly and then open my eyes and realize I needed to inhale again.
There are a tons of links out there describing nutmeg's psychoactive properties and side effects. According to health services at Columbia University, as little as 2 tsp. of ground nutmeg can do the trick. And apparently it's a known fact that it takes a good 2-6 hours to start feeling the effects. It all describes my experience perfectly. Unbelieveable!! I don't know if I feel like a moron for overdosing on nutmeg accidentally, or like a genius for figuring this out!
It's now noon the following day and I still feel a bit off. The articles say it can take a few days for the nutmeg hangover to wear off. Am I serious right now? A nutmeg hangover?! Maybe I am better off eating a Dunkin Donuts breakfast sandwich in the mornings... In any case please share if you know anything about nutmeg! This is just incredible to me, it's like some bad joke. I will be tossing that jar of nutmeg out of my pantry, pronto!