The Eggnog Ingredient that Shows Promise against Colon Cancer

There might be more reason than ever to enjoy a holiday favorite, eggnog, this time of year. A critical ingredient in the egg or egg-less varieties of this seasonal beverage may help protect you against colon cancer. That’s great news considering that colon cancer is the most common type of cancer and the third leading cause of mortality.

According to a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research scientists found that eggnog’s signature spice, nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), significantly reduces harmful precursors of colon cancer. The study also found a little-known connection between the toxins secreted by harmful gut microbes and colon cancer, suggesting a possible link between gastrointestinal (GI) tract infections and colon cancer.

The researchers identified four toxic substances found in the gut, likely secreted by infectious bacteria. The toxic substances, which formed inflammatory compounds known as cytokines, were found in the blood of animals with a genetic mutation for colon cancer. Cytokines are immune-regulating substances that can have inflammatory effects in the body.

Nutmeg, which exhibited a strong antimicrobial effect, is believed to work by eliminating or reducing the infectious bacteria in the GI tract, resulting in the reduction of toxic substances secreted by the harmful bacteria, and ultimately resulting in fewer inflammatory compounds in the gut.

Microbial imbalances in the gut have been linked with dozens of other serious health conditions ranging from arthritis and depression to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. While it’s too early to determine whether nutmeg will also benefit these conditions, the researchers who conducted the above study indicated that managing gut bacteria may be effective as a preventive approach for colon cancer.

In a study published in the medical journal Archives of Pharmacal Research researchers identified a substance called meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid (DHGA) which showed significant anti-tumor properties, suggesting that nutmeg may offer additional anti-cancer benefits. This study is also preliminary, but the findings of both studies suggest nutmeg warrants additional research into its potential against cancer.

Nutmeg has other health benefits as well. In a study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, researchers found the spice also boosted mood and showed comparable antidepressant activity to the drug imipramine—a drug used to treat depression. Check out my blog, “The Holiday Spice that Boosts Mood, Fights Depression” to learn more about nutmeg’s antidepressant properties.

As with most subjects, the internet is packed with misinformation about nutmeg’s safety, mostly due to a couple of self-reported cases of high doses of nutmeg leading to nutmeg toxicity, but it appears that neither of these cases have not been properly investigated to rule out other causes. While we await investigation, avoid doses of two to three teaspoons of nutmeg daily—an amount that even nutmeg’s greatest fans would probably find excessive due to the spice’s pungent flavor.

There are plenty of ways to obtain the health benefits of nutmeg in moderation in your diet. Add a sprinkle of the spice to your favorite latte or in some almond or coconut milk as a vegan eggnog alternative. You can mull apple cider with nutmeg and cinnamon or add some freshly-ground nutmeg to your favorite holiday cookie recipe. Nutmeg is also great in savory dishes like soups and stews. Use up to one-half teaspoon daily.

Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM, is an international best-selling and 18-time published book author, whose works include: The Probiotic Promise: Simple Steps to Heal Your Body from the Inside Out (DaCapo, 2015).


natasha p
Past Member 11 months ago

i mean can not stand eggnog

natasha p
Past Member 11 months ago

I stand stand eggnog

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Nell N.
Past Member 3 years ago

Remember that the cinnamon sticks is not allowed to be there more than 20 minutes. After that all the detrimental stuff are coming out from the spices and herbs. With Pepper I make an exeption while making peasoup which I make in owen. It's there whole evening and night.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

I enjoy nutmeg. We put it on our french toast, and in and on sweet potatoes too.

Angela K.
Angela K3 years ago

Thank you

James Maynard
James Maynard3 years ago

I even put a sprinkle of nutmeg in my coffee from time to time....

Trish Kendall
Trish K3 years ago

I knew it had to be the Nutmeg . . . so nice

Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

LF F3 years ago

You could probably put them in the empty gelatin capsules also too. Eggnog would have a bunch of excess calories and sugar.