Calabash nutmeg seeds belong to a forest tree that is native to West Africa but is also found in other parts of the world. Calabash nutmeg is in the same genus as mace but it is a cheaper substitute to its costlier cousin. Nearly all parts of the tree have some value, which is mostly medicinal. The wood of the tree is also used as firewood and lumber.
Calabash nutmeg is native to many African countries where it grows among various other forest trees. The seeds are used in place of nutmegs in culinary, soaps, and cakes. The seeds are also used as stimulants and for the treatment of headaches. Some people associate religious value to the tree and use its seeds as rosary beads. But commercial production of the tree is largely restricted to its medicinal applications.
African nutmeg or Calabash nutmeg is a tree that commonly grows in the rainforests of many African countries. Calabash nutmeg may be up to 30 m tall and has a dense crown. Its forage is thick and immense.
Calabash nutmeg leaves are huge and beautiful, having an oblong appearance. They are purple in color when they are small, becoming dark-green on maturing with a metallic green luster inside. Calabash nutmeg blooms in very fragrant and aromatic blossoms that are unsurpassed by their beauty and aroma.
The fruit is a 15 cm round, woody ball. The pulp is white and contains numerous seeds that are about 2.5 cm long. Ovoid fruits are also used in spices in some African countries.
The roots are chewed for toothache and arthritis.
The nutritional value of Calabash nutmeg centers around its usefulness as a seasoning due to its aromatic properties. The seeds that are embedded in the round fruits are of particular interest.
The traditional method of processing Calabash nutmegs
The traditional method of processing Calabash nutmegs and obtaining kernels involves roasting over the fire before cracking and size reduction. The notion behind this method is to cause easy seed coat rupture without paying attention to the alterations that roasting might cause in the seeds.
It is a sad truth that we rely largely on traditional methods of processing for Calabash nutmeg as we do for almond nuts, cocoa beans, coffee beans, etc.
Culinary & traditional uses of Calabash nutmeg
It is an entirely commercial plant and every part of Calabash nutmeg is sold. Calabash nutmeg’s seeds are, however, of immense importance due to a wide range of uses.
Calabash nutmeg seeds have nutritional value because they are rich in calories. They have an aromatic kernel inside that makes them very special to be used in spices and cuisines.
In Eastern countries, Calabash nutmeg is more valued for its medicinal qualities than as a condiment. Calabash nutmeg seeds are rubbed over the skin as a cure for skin diseases. It suggests that Calabash nutmeg seeds might contain germicidal and antibacterial properties. Calabash nutmeg is used for the treatment of constipation as well as a stimulant.
The essential oil from the seeds is used in dental and pharmaceutical preparations. The stem bark is used for the treatment of hemorrhoids, stomach ache, fever pains, and eye diseases. Ground seeds are used as laxatives and to control passive uterine hemorrhage in women after childbirth.
The seeds and seed coats are sold as nutmeg alternatives. They have an aromatic, pungent, and spicy overtone that is reminiscent of the actual nutmegs. They are cooked, fried, and used in various ethnic dishes in many African countries.
Nutritional value & benefits of Calabash nutmeg
Nutritionally, Calabash nutmeg is very rich just like all the seeds. Calabash nutmeg is not a nut, but it is rich in carbohydrates, proteins, energy, vitamins A, B, and C. Calabash nutmeg also contains electrolytes and minerals. It also does have a rich amount of phytonutrients such as carotene-B and crypto-xanthin-B. Calabash nutmeg also contains an abundant amount of dietary fibers that justifies its use for alimentary canal problems.
The flavor and many therapeutic actions are due to their essential oils. Calabash nutmeg oil is a colorless liquid with a characteristic odor.
Health benefits of Calabash nutmeg
These nutty, pungent, and spicy seeds have many medicinal properties, some of which are mentioned here. It is interesting to note that many of them are research-backed and have been confirmed repeatedly in various studies and publications.
The most stunning and astonishing property of Calabash nutmeg is that it is a brain booster. It enhances assimilation in the brain, probably by regulating the blood flow to the brain. Calabash nutmeg is used to treat anxiety and concentration problems. You should use Calabash nutmeg seeds occasionally to take the best out of them.
Calabash nutmeg seeds are good for the heart as they regulate blood function and empower the heart.
Calabash nutmeg seeds act as detoxifiers for the kidneys and liver. They detoxify kidneys and can remove stones formed inside them.
Calabash nutmeg is good for people who suffer from insomnia and may help them sleep earlier and better. Calabash nutmeg increases the level of serotonin in the body thus helping you relax and inducing sleep in turn. You can add Calabash nutmeg to your coffee or tea, and even sparkle some seeds on a regular meal.
Calabash nutmeg oil is antibacterial so Calabash nutmeg is used in many kinds of toothpaste. Calabash nutmeg also removes bad breath and treats various gum issues. You should incorporate it into your diet if you are suffering from issues related to teeth.
Calabash nutmeg is used in multiple cough syrups as it clears the congestion developed after receiving colds. The oil is also used in aromatherapy.
Other medicinal uses
Calabash nutmeg oil is an excellent pain killer. I oil helps reduce the swelling in the joints as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Calabash nutmeg oil is also used as an aphrodisiac in traditional medicine. A new study has confirmed its usefulness in erectile dysfunction disorder.
Calabash nutmeg is thought to relieve many stomach disorders including constipation, diarrhea, and flatulence. But, you have to be careful in its use and should use seeds in moderate amounts. It has been reported that consuming seeds in large amounts can lead to hallucinations, even to death.
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