Mace Essential Oil (Myristica fragrans)

Mace Essential Oil
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Botanical name  Myristica fragrans

Family  Myristicaceae

Source  Aril (pericarp) which surrounds the ripe seed

Origin   Sri Lanka

Processing Method  Steam Distillation

Color/Consistency   A thin, Colourless to slight yellow clear liquid

Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma  A middle note with a medium aroma, Mace Essential Oil has sweet, spicy scent reminiscent of nutmeg.

Blends With  Lavender, Bay, Orange, Geranium, Clary Sage, Rosemary, Lime, Petitgrain, Mandarin and Coriander.

Product Abstract

The nutmeg fruit is pendulous and similar in presentation to a peach. When fully mature, it splits in two, exposing a crimson-colored aril. This is the mace which surrounds the nutmeg pit. Mace is a vibrant red-colored seed husk covering (aril). Mace Essential Oil has a history of medical use in combination with nutmeg. It has progressed over time and is added to soaps, perfumes and it is also used as a cooking ingredient. It smells like and is very close to nutmeg in its makeup.


Myristica fragrans is a small evergreen tree, usually 5–13 m (16–43 ft) tall, but occasionally reaching 20 m (66 ft). The alternately arranged leaves are dark green,5–15 cm (2.0–5.9 in) long by 2–7 cm (0.8–2.8 in) wide with petioles about 1 cm (0.4 in) long. The species is dioecious, i.e. "male" or staminate flowers and "female" or carpelleate flowers are borne on different plants, although occasional individuals produce both kinds of flower. The flowers are bell-shaped, pale yellow and somewhat waxy and fleshy.

Harvesting/Extraction Information

The oil is extracted from aril using steam distillation process. The oil is also added to a blend where mace oil is used as fixative. Further, its analgesic properties also make it useful for treating muscle fatigue and arthritis.

Common Usage

  • Analgesic
  • Anti-rheumatic
  • Antiseptic
  • Aanti-spasmodic
  • Carminative
  • Digestive
  • Laxative
  • Stimulant and tonic
  • Stimulate appetite
  • Assisting the reproductive system


Dilute before use; for external use only in small doses. May cause skin irritation in some individuals; a skin test is recommended prior to use. Contact with eyes should be avoided.

Key constituents

b-Pineneþsabinene 45.5%

a-Pinene 15.2%

1,8-Cineoleþ(þ)-limonene 7.0%

Myristicin 5.9%

Terpinen-4-ol 4.5%

a-Terpineneþp-cymene 3.5%

a-Phellandrene 3.2%

Elemicin  3.1%

Safety summary
Hazards  Potentially carcinogenic, based on safrole and methyleugenol content; may be psychotropic.
Contraindications None known.
Maximum adult daily oral dose (Sri Lankan mace oil)  73 mg
Maximum adult daily oral dose (Sri Lankan mace oil)  146 mg

Maximum dermal use level (Sri Lankan mace oil)
EU                        0.08%
IFRA                      0.2%
Tisserand & Young 2%

Our safety advice We recommend a dermal maximum of 2% for the Sri Lankan oil and a maximum oral dose of 73 mg based on 1.9% safrole and 0.2% methyleugenol content, and a dermal maximum of 4.1% and a maximum oral dose of 146 mg for the Sri Lankan oil based on 0.7% safrole and 0.2% methyleugenol. These are based on dermal limits of 0.05% and 0.02%, and oral dose limits of 0.025 and 0.01 mg/kg for safrole and methyleugenol, respectively.

Regulatory guidelines
IFRA and the EU recommend a maximum exposure level of 0.01% of safrole from the use of safrole-containing essential oils in cosmetics. IFRA recommends a maximum concentration of 0.0004% methyleugenol in leave-on products such as body lotions. The equivalent SCCNFP maximum is 0.0002%.

Organ-specific effects
Adverse skin reactions  Undiluted mace oil was moderately irritating to rabbits, but was not irritating to mice or pigs; tested at 8% on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing. It is non-phototoxic.

Neurotoxicity  Psychotropic effects have been reported for nutmeg in high doses. Myristicin and elemicin are thought to be responsible, but other synergistic elements may need to be present for a psychotropic effect to take place.

Systemic effects
Acute toxicity Mace oil acute oral LD50 in rats 3.64 g/kg; acute dermal LD50 in rabbits >5 g/kg.
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential: No information was found for mace oil. Safrole and methyleugenol are carcinogenic if the dose is sufficiently high; (þ)-limonene and myristicin display anticarcinogenic activity.

CO2 extract contained 0.2% safrole and 0.1% methyleugenol. It is feasible that the myristicin in mace oil might counter the potentially carcinogenic effect of methyleugenol and safrole.

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