UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Getting "high" on household spices.

Keywords: household spices, abuse, toxicity (PubMed Search)

Posted: 4/8/2021 by Hong Kim, MD, MPH (Updated: 10/16/2021)
Click here to contact Hong Kim, MD, MPH

 

There are three commonly household spices that can be abuse/misused or cause toxicity after exposure.

Pure vanilla extract contains at least 35% ethanol by volume per US Food and Drug Administration standards

  • Results in alcohol intoxication
  • Ingestion of 1.3 mL/kg in child will result in blood ethanol concentration of 100 mg/dL

 

Nutmeg contains myristicin – serotonergic agonist that possess psychomimetic properties. 

  • Typical recreational dose: 5-30 gm. (tablespoon of ground nutmeg: 7 gm).

Clinical effects:

  • GI symptoms: nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain
  • Cardiovascular: hypertension and tachycardia
  • CNS: hallucination, paranoia, seizure
  • Others: flushing, mydriasis

 

Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde and eugenol – local irritants.

  • Can cause contact dermatitis and ulceration from topical application
  • Inhalation of cinnamon can result in chronic and significant pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis

References

Johnson-Arbor K et al. Stoned on spices: a mini-review of three commonly abuse housenold spices. Clin Toxicol (Phila) 2020

https://doi.org/10.1080/15563650.2020.1840579