Psychedelic Nutmeg: A New High in Holiday Cheer

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>Head feeling faint? Perhaps you're even seeing things? The effect might not be from the endless Christmas music. Large doses of the popular holiday spice nutmeg can, ABC News reports, induce a powerful high.

"Nutmeg intoxication epidemics were seen in the early 1900s," according to the article, "and a small resurgence was seen in the mid-1960s." The spice can be snorted, smoked, or eaten. The hallucinogenic effect comes from a chemical called myristicin, which acts like LSD. Poison centers have allegedly been receiving more and more calls related to this strange, often unpleasant nutmeg high:

About 30 minutes to an hour after taking large doses of nutmeg, people usually have severe gastrointestinal reactions, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But that's just the beginning. Hours into the high, people can suffer from heart and nerve problems as well.

"This is where people have to be really alert," said Gaylord Lopez, director of the Georgia Poison Center in Atlanta. "A person who has an unrecognized heart ailment could have problems that could lead to irregular rhythms. One plus one can add up to nine really quickly."

Visual, auditory or sensory hallucinations do not set in until hours after ingesting the spice, so there is also the worry that someone could overdose, thinking they haven't taken enough to feel anything.

Dr. Marcel Casavant, medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, said that it is fairly common for teenagers to experiment with household products to get high. And the results can be devastating.

Read the full story at ABC News.

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John Hendel is a writer based in Washington, DC, and a former producer at The Atlantic.

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