Another week, another challenge on Tiktok that has users risking it all for a chance at internet fame. The latest TikTok challenge to go viral — the “nutmeg challenge.” In the challenge, participants dump an abnormally large amount of ground nutmeg into a cup of water and chug it down. The desired effect? Getting high.
Quarantine seems to be hitting people a little too hard as they go to their spice rack and mix nutmeg and water. Most nutmeg challenge videos advertise the effects of the concoction as vivid hallucinations and dizziness, with the effects lasting anywhere from six to thirty hours.
Is the Nutmeg Challenge “High” Real?
The chemical responsible for the “high” is myristicin, which is a compound found naturally in the essential oils of plants like parsley, dill and nutmeg. When ingested, the breakdown of myristicin produces a compound that affects the central nervous system (CNS) by enhancing the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. This creates noticeable side effects — hallucinations, dizziness and nausea.
Research on nutmeg intoxication is limited, but case reports and studies have found dangers in the side effects of consuming too much myristicin. One case report involved an 18-year-old female displaying nausea, dizziness, heart palpitations, dry mouth and a trance-like state. She had consumed nearly 50 grams of nutmeg accidentally just 30 minutes before her symptoms began.
The most common symptoms of Illinois Poison Center’s 10-year investigation included hallucinations, drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, confusion and seizures. Other side effects included respiratory, cardiovascular and gastric distress.
The Dangers of the Nutmeg Challenge
The nutmeg challenge definitely isn’t the first time that TikTok users took to their pantry to join in on a viral challenge. Just last month, people were pouring copious amounts of salt directly into their mouth as part of the “salt challenge.” While most spit it out, unable to stand the taste, the dangers of ingesting too much sodium were still there. How does the nutmeg challenge compare in danger?
Users that are documenting their experiences on TikTok are claiming they faced extreme anxiety on their “trips” despite never displaying anxiety symptoms before. They cautioned users with anxiety to avoid doing the challenge.
The nutmeg challenge has many thinking of the possible high — it’s accessible for most and cheap. However, the dangers of overconsumption are prevalent despite it being a household spice. Small amounts of nutmeg are used in cooking, but most recipes call for less than a single teaspoon of nutmeg per recipe. Each recipe is most likely split into multiple portions, so typical nutmeg consumption is very small.
Case studies from the Illinois Poison Center found that 10 grams (around two teaspoons) of nutmeg was enough to cause symptoms of toxicity. At doses of 50 grams or more, symptoms grew more severe and deadly. For the nutmeg challenge, teens are dumping nutmeg straight from the bottle, often without measurements.
“The safety and well-being of our users is a top priority at TikTok,” a spokesperson tells Parentology via email. “As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes, or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury, and we remove reported behavior or activity that violates our guidelines. To help keep our platform safe, we have introduced a slate of safety features geared towards enhancing our users’ experience, including tools for reporting inappropriate content and managing privacy settings.”
The bottom line? Skip the challenge and save the nutmeg for the quarantine baking endeavors.
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