Nutmeg can protect the liver from damage, reports a new study. The findings of the study are reported in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.
Smelling nutmeg evokes images of fall, pumpkin pie, and hot apple cider. But the spice has been used for years in traditional Chinese medicine to treat gastrointestinal illnesses.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the world consumes 9,000 tons of nutmeg annually. Nutmeg is the seed of the Myristica fragrans tree, which is commonly found in Indonesia and has been used to treat asthma, rheumatic pain, toothaches and infections.
The researchers used a mouse animal model of liver toxicity to test the mechanism behind nutmeg's protective effects. Metabolomics analyses showed that nutmeg likely protected against liver damage by restoring the mice to more healthy levels of various lipids and acylcarnitines.
Gene expression studies showed that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) was modulated by nutmeg, and the spice didn't protect mice from liver injury if the PPARα gene was deleted. In addition, the team found that a specific compound in nutmeg, myrislignan, had a strong protective effect against liver damage.