| 24 Feb 2024
TikTok's nutmeg challenge trends

MUMBAI: A popular TikTok challenge has re-emerged during the coronavirus quarantine, and it's one that could have deathly consequences.

For the popular nutmeg challenge, TikTok users drink a mix of two to four tablespoons of nutmeg with milk or water and document their reactions, as large amounts of the spice can lead to intoxication.

But the high that comes from the spice is actually pretty dangerous.

It takes five to 20 grams, or one to four teaspoons, of ground nutmeg to become intoxicated, according to the American Association for Clinincal Chemistry (AACC). This is an extremely large quantity of the spice. A typical pumpkin pie recipe, for instance, only calls for 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.

When that much nutmeg is ingested, symptoms begin within three to six hours, lasting for 12-24 hours. That period is "often followed by deep sleep," according to the AACC. Symptoms, which are dose-related, the AACC says, include dry mouth, agitation, hypothermia, hallucinations, among others — and in some cases, coma and death have been associate with nutmeg overconsumtion. Nutmeg's toxicity comes from myristicin oil, which is also found in anise.

One case study published by the Journal of Toxicology: Clinial Toxicology in 2000 reported that a 13-year-old female had ingested roughly 15 to 24 grams of nutmeg, in addition to smoking marijuana, and developed "bizarre behavior and visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations," along with nausea, blurred vision, numbness, muscle weakness, and more. 

Some users even said in their clips that they only tried the challenge because they thought people were "faking" their highs.

A representative for TikTok told Insider in a statement that the company is actively removing videos encouraging the nutmeg challenge. "The safety and well-being of our users is a top priority at TikTok. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that displays, promotes, or encourages drugs or drug consumption. We remove any such reported content," the spokesperspon said.

Still, as of Monday afternoon, the #nutmegchallenge hashtag page has 46.4 million views, and pages upon pages of clips showing young people ingesting the spice.