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NUTMEG (Myristica fragrans)

DESCRIPTION:


Botany: The nutmeg tree is an evergreen tree with spreading branches and dense foliage.  It grows up to 20 m high.  Leaves are coriaceous, elliptic-oblong and at times oblanceolate, cordate at tip, and acute at base. Flowers are bracteolate, fruits ovoid, subglobose or pyriform.  The dried brown seed, after the shell is broken and discarded is the nutmeg.
 
The nutmeg tree originated in the East Indian archipelago.  It is now cultivated widely throughout tropical areas.  Indonesia is the main supplier of East Indian nutmeg, but it is also produced in Sri Lanka.  The Federation of the West Indies are the main suppliers of West Indian nutmeg. 
 
History and/or folklore: It is said that the scent of the Nutmeg Islands is so powerful that birds of paradise become intoxicated.
 
Products: Myristica fragrans essential oil (Myristicae aetheroleum; Nutmeg oil): Nutmeg oil is a volatile oil obtained by steam distillation or steam and water distillation of freshly comminuted, dried nutmegs. The nutmegs should preferably be free from most of their fixed oil before distillation. The fixed oil can be alcohol extracted to yield a small amount of essential oil which has been dissolved in the fixed oil during the expression.
 
Nutmeg oil is a strong antioxidant with antimicrobial and analgesic properties.
 
Myristica fragrans botanical extract (Nutmeg extract): Nutmeg extract is prepared from the dried, ripe seed of the fruit from Myristica fragrans.  It is usually a dark orange, somewhat grainy, viscous mass of very warm, spicy balsamic and strongly aromatic odour.  The flavour is slightly burning, warm and spicy, reminiscent of nutmeg. 
 
Biochemistry: Nutmeg contains 2-16% (usually ca. 10%) volatile oil; 25-40% fixed (non-volatile) oils consisting of free myristic acid and triglycerides of lauric, tridecanoic, palmitic, stearic, and myristic acids as well as branched isomers of myristic and stearic acids; starch (ca. 30%); protein (ca. 6%); an oleanolic acid glycoside (saponin); sclareol; diarylpropanoides (dimeric phenylpropanoids) such as macelignan, meso-di-hydroguaiaretic acid, otobaphenol; catechins, proanthocyanidins and others
 

USES


Myristica fragrans essential oil (Myristicae aetheroleum; Nutmeg oil):
Traditional use: Nutmeg oil is used for liniments, hair preparations, soaps and scented powders. It is one of the components used in liniments and analgesic rubs.
 
Nutmeg oil is widely used as a fragrance component in soaps, detergents, creams, lotions, and perfumes at concentrations from 0.005% to 0.8%. Maximum use level reported is 0.3% for East Indian oil in perfumes (West Indian nutmegs yield slightly more monoterpenes by distillation than do the East Indian nutmegs).
 
Myristica fragrans botanical extract (Nutmeg extract):
The extract is now and then used in old fashioned types of oriental perfume where it produces pleasing effects in combination with sandalwood, vetiver, clary sage, oakmoss, lavender absolute, tonka absolute, labdanum extracts, bergamot oil, patchouli oil and geranium oil. Minute additions of nutmeg extract can have very interesting effects in rose bases.
 

TOXICOLOGY:


Myristica fragrans essential oil
 
Xi - irritant:
  • Irritating to skin and eyes.
  • May cause sensitisation by skin contact.
  • Avoid contact with skin.
 
Nutmeg oil is toxic if used in large quantities, and can be stupefying. Use with caution on the skin. No information on the long term toxicity of nutmeg oil is provided.
 
NETTLE LEAF (Urtica dioica)

DESCRIPTION:


Botany: Herbaceous perennial up to 30-150 cm. It is monoecious or dioecious.  Stems are four angled and have stinging hairs similar to the leaves.  Leaves are opposite, ovate to cordate oblong-lanceolate, and serrate. Flowers are green in axillary panicles; flowering from June to September.
 
History and/or folklore: Dried leaves are used as snuff to stop nose bleeds.  Inhalation of the fumes of burning dried nettle leaves is used to clear a chesty cold.  Nettle yields a grey-green dye. It is called the herb of Mars.
 
Products: A large number of compounds of different polarity and belonging to various chemical classes, including fatty acids, terpenes, phenylpropanes, lignans, coumarins, triterpenes, ceramides, sterols and lectins, have been isolated from Radix Urticae. Among these are oxalic acid, linoleic acid, 14-octacosanol, 13-hydroxy-9-cis,11-trans-octadecadienoic acid, α-dimorphecolic acid (9-hydroxy-10-trans,12-cis-octadecadienoic acid), scopoletin, p-hydroxybenzaldehyde, homovanillyl alcohol, β-sitosterol, stigmasterol, 24-R-ethyl-5α-cholestan-3β,6α-diol, campesterol, daucosterol (and related glycosides), secoisolariciresinol-9-O-β-D-glucoside, neo-olivil, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, Urtica dioica agglutinin and polysaccharides RP1-RP5.
 
The parts used are the herb, leaves and root. These have antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.

USES


Urtica dioica botanical extract:
Traditional use: Nettles are commonly included in footbaths to draw out impurities and ease tiredness. Extract of leaves has been used topically for the treatment of rheumatic disorders. Externally, it is used as a hair conditioner, and reputedly removes dandruff.
 
Nettle extract is reported to be used as a biological additive in shampoos, permanent wave treatment; hair conditioners; skin fresheners, and miscellaneous skin care products.
 

TOXICOLOGY:
Radix Urticae is contraindicated in cases of known allergy to plants of the Urticaceae family.

NEEM (Azadiatrichta indica or Melia azadirachta)

DESCRIPTION:

Botany:  Neem is a fast-growing tree that can reach a height of 15–20 metres, rarely to 35–40 metres.  It is evergreen, but in severe drought it may shed most or nearly all of its leaves. The branches are wide spread.  The fairly dense crown is roundish or oval and may reach a diameter of 15–20 metres in old, free-standing specimens.
 
History and/or folklore: The medicinal and antimicrobial activity of plant extract has been known for generations.  The earliest use of a plant being used as human medication is found on an Egyptian papyrus dated about 1550 BC (the Ebers Papyrus-ACD).  Almost every part of the neem tree is used in traditional medicine in India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Indochina, Java and Thailand.  The stem, root bark, and young fruits are used to treat malaria and cutaneous diseases.  The tender leaves have been used in the treatment of worm infections, ulcers, cardiovascular diseases and for their pesticide and insect-repellent activity.  Neem oil has been used in traditional Indian medicine for thousands of years, practically as a panacea for all ailments.  It is one of Indian’s most reverential treatments for problem skin.
 
Products:
Neem oil (Melia azadirachta fixed oil)
Melia azadirachta botanical extract
Melia azadirachta essential oil
 
USES:
Neem fixed oil
A very aromatic oil (neem also known as margosa or nimba).  There are many oils but few have as many therapeutic properties as neem oil.  Neem oil is known for its medicinal and cosmetic properties.  The oil has moisturizing, regenerating and restricting properties.  As an ointment neem oil can be used to treat wounds, boils and eczema. It can be used in massage to combat muscle pain, oedema of the joints and fever. It is an antifungal and antiviral agent and also combats lice and other parasites.  Applied to the scalp, it has the reputation of retarding baldness and the appearance of white hair.  In the form of soap, it can protect humans against pain, illness and the effects of aging. 
 
Melia azadirachta botanical extract
It is used to prevent pyorrhoea and skin diseases.  It acts as a vermicide, softens hard and rough skin, and is used as an antiseptic and in hair care as it checks hair loss, stimulates hair growth and darkens hair.  Neem also inhibits allergic reactions when applied to the skin. Neem compounds inhibit the stimulus produced by histamine and may be helpful in skin rashes and bronchial allergy.  Application of a neem-based cream or lotion will stop the itching and inflammation of rashes.
 
Melia azadirachta essential oil
It is used to reduce dental caries and inflammation of the mouth when used an ingredient in dental preparations. Naturally occurring oil (from seed of A. indica) has pronounced antimicrobial properties.
 
Neem bark and leaves
Traditional use: Neem is commonly used for toothbrushes for cleaning the teeth, mouth and hands.  Neem is one of the trees that are used in India for toothbrushes.  Chewing neem sticks is still common in India, although most modern Indian use neem toothpaste instead.  In the toothpaste neem leaf powders and extracts are mainly used.  The neem leaf is not the most effective neem product for dental care purposes, but manufacturers do not want to use the more effective bark in a toothpaste, because that would make it brown.
 
TOXICOLOGY:
Azadiatrichta indica essential oil
No important hazards found. However, advised to keep out of the reach of children, and avoid contact with eyes (Skin sensitization – Guinea Pig, Eye Irritation – Rabbit).
 
Not assessed for safety in cosmetics by industry panel.
 
Melia azadirachta botanical extract
Dermal toxicity is not determined.
 
Neem fixed oil 
The oil is non-toxic to bees, mammals, birds and earthworms.  It generally affects only plant sap-sucking insects.  It is also said that Neem oil is not entirely harmless for certain beneficial insects.  Spraying neem oil in the sun can cause leaves to burn.  Neem oil is biodegradable.