Dose/Ines Vuckovic

Watch out though: The effects might last until New Year’s.

Boozy hot chocolate, mulled wine and spiked eggnog get all the credit for being iconic holiday intoxicants. But there’s an alternative way to get through those awkward family gatherings around Christmas-time — nutmeg. That’s right: the aromatic spice next to the cocoa and cinnamon at your local grocery store can get you high, even hallucinating.

Nutmeg is the seed of an evergreen tree that’s native to Indonesia, but it wasn’t used by Westerners until the 12th century, when Europeans used the stuff to end unwanted pregnancies and fight the black plague.

Not surprisingly, neither of those efforts were successful. But those Dark Age societies noticed something else about nutmeg: its ability to induce hazy, drug-like hallucinations. Nutmeg soon became popular among prisoners and peasants alike for its psychotropic properties.

‘Parks and Recreation’

Through the centuries, the tradition of getting high on nutmeg endured. In his famous autobiography, Malcolm X details how his fellow prisoners would buy the spice and stir it into water for a cheap buzz. From time to time, poison control centers report cases of nutmeg overdose, mostly involving teenagers who are looking for an affordable and accessible way to get fucked up. ?

A sprinkle of nutmeg in your eggnog isn’t going to make you trip. Experienced nutmeg users recommend first-time users start with 1.5 tablespoons (21.5 grams). You won’t feel the effects for 4–5 hours, so don’t get impatient and take more before that amount of time has elapsed. Taking more than 3 tablespoons (43 grams) isn’t necessary or safe.

First of all, good luck consuming that much of the bitter, dusty power. Ew. If you insist on consuming this stuff, at least mix it into a glass of chocolate milk first.

Secondly, know that the effects can last as long as 5 days, so make sure you don’t have to do anything important during that time.

Once the effects finally wear off, you may be in for the worst hangover of your life. I’m talking about the kind where you can’t get out of bed and you question every decision you’ve ever made in your life. Medical toxicologist Leon Gussow, who wrote a paper on nutmeg toxicity in 2011, compared the after-effects to a “two-day hangover.” Yikes.

People have also compared consuming too much nutmeg to a bad case of the flu, with symptoms of nausea, dizziness, cottonmouth and panic.

So while it’s tempting to go hard on the nutmeg this year — especially if you have to sit through your uncle’s tedious political rants — you may want to stick with the spiced cider instead.