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Forensic Sci Int. 2001 Apr 15;118(1):87-90.

Nutmeg (myristicin) poisoning--report on a fatal case and a series of cases recorded by a poison information centre.

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Department of Legal Medicine Erfurt, Institute of Legal Medicine, Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, Germany.


In literature, cases of nutmeg abuse have been described repeatedly, but only one fatal case of poisoning was reported [1]. In the present case, myristicin (4 microg/ml) was detected for the first time in the postmortal serum of a 55-year-old woman. Identification was achieved with the aid of UV-VIS spectroscopy and TLC; for quantification, HPLC was used. Because also flunitrazepam (0.072 microg/ml) was found, death had probably been due to the combined toxic effect of both substances. From 1996 to 1998, in a series of cases, seven poisonings with nutmeg were recorded by the Erfurt Poison Information Centre. Even where higher doses (20-80 g of powder) had been ingested, a life-threatening situation was never observed. In one of these cases, a myristicin blood level of 2 microg/ml was measured 8h after ingestion of two to three tablespoonful of nutmeg powder (approx. 14-21 g, or 280-420 mg/kg).

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