Linschoten's Description of a Nutmeg Tree


Three spices, nutmeg, mace and clove, dominated the European imagination and drove a sustained pursuit that saw European ships traverse thousands of miles. Here we have a description of the wondrous properties of nutmeg, which could cure all manner of diseases and ailments.

The Nutmeg comferteth the braine, sharpeth the memorie, warmeth and strengthneth the Maw, driveth winde out of the body, maketh a sweet breath, driveth down Urine, stoppeth the Laske (diarrhoea), and to conclude, is good against all colde diseases in the heade, in the braine, the Mawe, the Liver and the Matrice. The Oyle thereof is better than the rest, for all the aforesaid infirmities. Mace is specially good for a colde and a weake maw, it procureth digestion of the meate, drieth up all evill humors and breaketh wind.

The Voyage of John Huyghen van Linschoten to the East Indies, Arthur Coke Burnell and P.A. Tiele, eds., London, Hakluyt Society, 1885
1. Why was nutmeg so profitable in this period? 2. What kind of ailments could nutmeg cure?