Jatamansi (Spikenard) – Nardostachys Jatamansi

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Jatamansi (Spikenard) – Nardostachys Jatamansi
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Jatamansi (also called Spikenard in English and botanically, known as Nardostachys Jatamansi) is antidepressant, anxiolytic, anti-stress, anti-fatigue and neuroprotective herb, which is commonly used in Ayurveda. The roots are main medicinal part, which contains aromatic compounds responsible for its therapeutic effect in mood and stress disorders. It is used in the treatment of mood and stress disorders including mental fatigue, tension, anxiety, depression, panic disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Spikenard (Nardostachys Jatamansi) is commonly found in parts of India, China and Tibet. It belongs to the Valerianaceae family. It is perennial herb having aromatic characteristics.

Common Names

Botanical NameNardostachys Jatamansi
Botanical SynonymNardostachys Grandiflora
English NameSpikenard Muskroot
Hindi NameJatamansi

Botanical Classification (Plant Taxonomy)

KingdomPLANTAE
Sub-KingdomVIRIDIPLANTAE
Infra KingdomSTREPTOPHYTA (LAND PLANTS)
Super DivisionEMBRYOPHYTA
DivisionTRACHEOPHYTA (TRACHEOPHYTES OR VASCULAR PLANTS)
Sub DivisionSPERMATOPHYTINA (SPERMATOPHYTES OR SEED PLANTS)
ClassMAGNOLIOPSIDA
Super OrderASTERANAE
OrderDIPSACALES
FamilyVALERIANACEAE  (VALERIANS)
GenusNARDOSTACHYS
SpeciesNARDOSTACHYS JATAMANSI (N. JATAMANSI)

Plant Description

Type of plantNardostachys Jatamansi is a flowering plant belonging to the Valerian family, which mainly grows in the mountain ranges of the Himalayas.
Native rangeNardostachys Jatamansi grows widely in the Kumaon Himalayas, the Eastern and Central Himalayas, and the Sino-Indian Himalayan regions. It can also be found in the Himalayan belt through the Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan.
HeightNardostachys Jatamansi plant grows up to 1 m in height.
HabitatIt usually grows at an altitude of 3000–5000 meters.
FlowersIt has pink, bell-shaped flowers.

MEDICINAL PARTS

Dried rhizome and roots of Spikenard (Nardostachys Jatamansi) are the main medicinal parts. The basal leaves of Spikenard (Jatamansi) are also used in herbal and traditional medicine.

The Rhizomes or the underground stems are crushed and distilled to get a spikenard essential oil that is intensely aromatic and has a thick consistency. The Spikenard Oil is used as essential oil due its deodorant, sedative, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory actions. This oil has been used as a perfume and medicine since ancient times. It is also known as spikenard, nardin, nard, or muskroot.

PHYTOCHEMISTRY

Jatamansi roots are natural source for the type of an intensely aromatic essential oil called spikenard oil (nard oil). The chemical components of Nardostachys Jatamansi have been studied in a number of different studies. The compounds of this plant include:

  1. ARISTOLEN-9BETA-OL
  2. ACACIIN
  3. OCTACOSANOL
  4. URSOLIE ACID
  5. KANSHONE A
  6. NARDOSINONEDIOL
  7. NARDOSINONE
  8. OLEANOLIC ACID
  9. BETA-SITOSTEROL

Active Constituents

The rhizome component of this herb has been found to contain:

  • NARDAL
  • JATAMANSIC ACID
  • JATAMOL A AND B
  • NARDIN A AND NARDIN B
  • NEOLIGNANS (UNIDENTIFIED)
  • TARAXERONE
  • URSOLIC ACID
  • SPIROJATAMOL
  • NARDOSTACHYSIN (TERPENOID)
  • VALERANONE
  • VALERENIC ACID
  • VALEPOTRIATES
  • FERULIC ACID
  • PROTOCATECHUIC ACID
  • CHLOROGENIC ACID
  • SYRINGIC ACID
  • AROMADENDRENE

PHARMACOLOGICAL ACTIONS

Jatamansi is an herb that has many similar medicinal claims to Bacopa Monnieri (Water hyssop) including anti-stress, anti-convulsive, and cognitive-enhancing abilities. However, unlike Bacopa, the research related to the medicinal value of Nardostachys Jatamansi is still in its preliminary stage.

Medicinal Properties

Jatamansi is aromatic herbs, which exert cooling action in the body. It has following medicinal properties:

  1. Neuroprotective
  2. Anti-stress
  3. Anti-depressant
  4. Anxiolytic
  5. Anti-cataleptic
  6. Anti-seizure (Anticonvulsant)
  7. Antispasmodic
  8. Anti-inflammatory
  9. Antihypertensive
  10. Deodorant
  11. Antibacterial
  12. Antifungal (Jatamansi oil)
  13. Carminative
  14. Stomachic
  15. Heart tonic
  16. Mild Diuretic (by exerting stimulant action on kidneys)
  17. Anti-histaminic
  18. Mild laxative

Ayurvedic Properties

RASA (Taste)TIKTA (Bitter), KASAYA (Astringent), MADHURA (Sweet)
GUNA (Main Quality)LAGHU (Light), SNIGADH or SNEHA (Unctuous or Oily)
VIRYA (Potency)SHEETA (Cold)
VIPAKA (Resultant)KATU (Pungent)
PRABHAVA (Action)Anti-stress
DOSHA KARMA (Effect on Humors)Tridosha Shamak (Balances all three humors)
Dhatu (Tissue) EffectRASA, RAKTA
Organs EffectNerves, Mind, Intestine, Uterus, Heart, Kidneys, Skin
Main IndicationStress and mood disorders

Therapeutic Indications

The main therapeutic indication of Jatamansi is mood and stress disorders. The list of Jatamansi indications is as follows:-

  1. Depression
  2. Anxiety Disorders
  3. Panic Disorders
  4. Insomnia
  5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  6. Hysteria
  7. Epilepsy
  8. Convulsions
  9. Intestinal Colic
  10. Headache
  11. Ulcer
  12. Memory Loss
  13. Heart Palpitation
  14. Bad body odor

Jatamansi also acts on liver and digestive system. It increases appetite, decreases bloating, reduces abdominal pain and intestinal inflammation. Therefore, it is also indicated in following diseases:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Flatulence
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal distension
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease

Benefits & Medicinal Uses

Jatamansi acts as a natural nervine tonic and a memory booster. It exerts calming and relaxation effects. In Ayurveda, it is commonly prescribed to relieve stress, spasm, convulsions, epilepsy, and hysteria. In fact, it is one of the most commonly used and an effective herb to treat epilepsy. The benefits medicinal uses of Jatamansi are discussed below in detail.

Epilepsy & Seizures

Nardostachys Jatamansi appears to offer strong protection against the oxidative stress. This action of the herb makes it an effective agent with strong neuroprotective properties. It can help in maintaining the balance of the hormones in the nervous system and thereby prevents seizures in the patients with epilepsy.

In ayurveda, Jatamansi root powder is not used alone, but it is used in combination other herbs or ayurvedic medicines. The following Jatamansi herbal combination gives promising results in epileptic patients preventing seizures at a greater extent.

Jatamansi root powder (Churna)1000 mg
Vacha (Acorus Calamus)500 mg
Abhrak Bhasma125 mg
This mixture can be taken twice daily with honey or Brahmi Juice (1 tsp.)
Some patients may also require Smriti Sagar Ras for a period of 4 to 8 weeks initially. After that, this combination is sufficient to control and treat epilepsy. It should be continued for a period of 6 to 12 months.

Dyskinesia & Catalepsy

Nardostachys Jatamansi (Spikenard) is likely to be helpful in Dyskinesia & Catalepsy. In rat study, it has shown reversal of catalepsy and orofacial dyskinesia induced by RESERPINE. It significantly inhibited vacuous chewing movements, tongue protrusions and catalepsy. (1)

Mental Fatigue & Nervine Weakness

Jatamansi (Spikenard) acts as nervine tonic and reduces mental exhaustion. According to ayurveda, it stimulates the healthy nervine functions and provides nourishment to the brain. Mental Fatigue is also linked with mental stress. Jatamansi preparations significantly reduce stress and provide feeling of well-being. It improves cognitive performance, reduces nervine weakness and improves enthusiasm.

In mental fatigue, Jatamansi Powder (Churna) should be started in a low dose. 500 mg twice daily is sufficient and effective dosage for reducing mental fatigue and inducing relaxation effects in the mind. It is best to take it in low dosage for a longer period instead using high doses for a short period.

If patient has excess mental exhaustion even after a little work, then other strengthening herbs like Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) and Yashtimadhu (Licorice) should also be used in addition to Jatamansi.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) also suffer from depression and stress. Jatamansi (Spikenard) along with Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera) is an excellent solution for the management of stress linked CFS. Anti-stress and antioxidant activities of these herbs also help to lower oxidative stress caused by CFS. (2)

Insomnia

In reduced dosage (i.e. 500 mg twice daily), Jatamansi exerts calming effects and improves quality of sleep and reduces sleeplessness. Along with Tagara (Valeriana Wallichii) and Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), it gives good results in the treatment of insomnia.

However, Jatamansi might be less effective than Tagara (Valeriana Wallichii) in inducing sleep as found in a comparative study. (3) Still it also shows good results in insomnia. In ayurveda, Jatamansi is not used alone for insomnia; it is used in combination of other herbs for best results. Jatamansi is much more effective for people awakening with feeling of un-refreshed or feeling of having low energy level and with symptoms of irritability, depression and stress.

Headache

According to ayurveda, Jatamansi is effective solution for headache characterized by severe pain, tearing pain near ears, excruciating pain around eye and vertigo. In ayurveda, this type of pain is categorized under VATAJ SHIROSHOOL (Headache with dominant Vata). Jatamansi is a drug of choice for VATAJ SHIROSHOOL in ayurveda. If patient feels sensation of tightness or pressure across the forehead, Jatamansi should be given with Vacha Churna (Acorus Calamus powder).

Forgetfulness & Memory Loss

Nardostachys Jatamansi (Spikenard) improves memory and reduces forgetfulness. It acts as memory restorative agent in people with memory loss. (4) It also has a protective role in stress-induced memory impairments. (5)

According to ayurveda, Jatamansi has memory enhancer effects. It also improves learning and cognitive functions. It is more beneficial for people with mental stress. If it is used in conjunction with Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri), Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), Vacha (Acorus Calamus) or Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus Pluricaulis), it provides good results.

Depression

The de-stressing effects of Nardostachys Jatamansi help combating depression. It works as an anti-depression agent by inducing a sense of calmness and serenity.

Scientific studies have found that it increases the cerebral levels of a chemical called GABA (GAMMA-AMINOBUTYRIC ACID). It is likely to reduce depression by increasing the levels of monoamines in the brain. (6, 7)

No doubt, it is an effective medicine for depression and used as drug of choice for its treatment. It mainly provides benefits in depression with aggressive symptoms if it is used alone. It reduces aggressive, self-destructive and violent behaviors. It also reduces restlessness, angry outbursts, frustration, irritability, sleep disturbances, and feeling of lack of energy. It increases vitality and vigor.

Melancholic Depression

Jatamansi along with Hing (Asafetida or Ferula Assa-Foetida) and Loha Bhasma is used for the treatment of Melancholic Depression. The mixture is prepared in following ratio:

Jatamansi40 grams
Hing (Asafetida or Ferula Assa-Foetida)20 grams
Loha Bhasma10 grams
Dosage: 250 to 500 mg twice daily with hot infusion of Jatamansi or Jatamansi Ark
This mixture should be continued for 2 to 3 months for good results.
Sometimes, this mixture causes constipation. So, mild laxatives like Isabgol (Psyllium Husk), Almond oil, etc. should be used at night before sleep.
This Jatamansi mixture reduces persistent extreme sadness, feeling of fatigued and other symptoms of Melancholic Depression.

Anxiety

Jatamansi (Spikenard) has anti-anxiety action. It reduces feeling of restlessness and nervousness, normalizes heart rate, and controls worrying, trembling, trouble sleeping in anxiety, so it is used to control, and treat anxiety disorders. It is more effective to control trembling in anxiety disorders.

Hair Fall & Premature Hair Whitening

Jatamansi oil or Jatamansi processed in sesame oil is helpful for reducing hair fall and preventing premature whitening of hair. Traditionally, it is used for blackening hair and making hair smooth and shiny. It also controls dandruff. A regular use of Jatamansi oil (nard oil) results in smooth, silky, voluminous and healthy hair. Internal intake of Nardostachys Jatamansi powder or extract is also helpful in the growth of the hair.

How to Use: Jatamansi (Spikenard oil) should be mixed in sesame oil in following ratio:

Spikenard oil10 ml
Sesame oil40 ml

The mixture of Spikenard and sesame oil should be applied over the head, in the hair roots, and on white hairs. The application should be repeated on daily basis. For best results, it should be applied at night before sleep and leave it on the scalp overnight. If daily application is not possible, then it should be applied at least thrice a week.

Action in hair fall is observable within first 2 weeks of its use and it takes 3 to 6 months to show results in premature hair whitening.

Skin Glow

Jatamansi preparations can be used to improve the skin complexion and ensures a glowing and youthful appearance. The root of the powder, when mixed with water and applied on the skin, promotes its tone and texture.

Dysmenorrhea (Painful Periods)

Jatamansi has antispasmodic and mild emmenagogue actions, which promotes a proper menstrual flow and reduces pain associated with menstruation. In dysmenorrhea, Jatamansi powder should be used in dosage of 500 mg thrice daily with water or Jatamansi Ark in dosage of 10 ml twice daily can also be taken. It should be used for a period of 2 to 3 months for a complete relief.

Menopause

Jatamansi reduces menopause symptoms like mood swings, sleep disturbance, difficult concentrating, memory lapses, headaches, irritability, dizziness, fatigue, stress, anxiety and tingling extremities. In these symptoms, it can help and induces feeling of general well-being.

Jatamansi and Saraswatarishta both are very helpful for controlling the undesired symptoms of menopause. For additional support, Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus) can also be used along with Jatamansi. For best results, one can use following Jatamansi Combination:

Jatamansi Powder (Churna)500 mg
Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus) Powder500 mg
Swarna Makshik Bhasma125 mg
Mukta Pishti125 mg
Abhrak Bhasma25 mg
This combination overall helps mitigating all menopause symptoms.

Fever with Burning Sensation & Restlessness

In some cases of fever and infections, patient feels burning sensation, fatigue and restlessness. In these symptoms, Jatamansi is highly useful along with Praval Pishti.

Heart & Blood Pressure

Jatamansi has cardioprotective properties. Jatamansi works as an excellent cardiac tonic. It enhances the functions of the heart and regularizes the heart rate. It preserves lipid metabolism and prevents oxidative injury to the cardiac tissue. In a study, its extract significantly prevented alterations in lipid profile (cholesterol, phospholipids, fatty acids & triglycerides). (8, 9)

In Ayurveda, Jatamansi is believed to improve blood circulation and normalizes the blood pressure. The main effect of Jatamansi is on blood circulation. It helps in all conditions causing poor circulation in the body. In both conditions Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure), poor circulation is observable. Therefore, Jatamansi can be used to normalize the blood pressure in both conditions. However, it alone may not significantly help, but one can use it with other herbs like below:

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)
Jatamansi = 1 gramJatamansi = 500 mg
Sarpagandha (Rauvolfia Serpentina) = 500 mgAshwagandha = 2 grams
Punarnava (Boerhavia Diffusa) = 2 gramsPurified Kuchla (Strychnos Nux-Vomica) = 65 mg
Natural herb powder (crude herb powder) of all above herbs should be used.

Intestinal Gas & Abdominal Pain

Jatamansi has mild carminative and strong antispasmodic actions, which helps in releasing gas and reducing abdominal pain. In these diseases, it is used along with Dalchini and Elaichi (Cardamom or Elettaria Cardamomum).

Glycosuria (Sugar in Urine)

In ayurveda, Jatamansi (Spikenard) is used to reduce the excretion of glucose (sugar) into the urine. Along with Chandraprabha Vati, it improves kidney functions and restores the normal renal threshold. One should also take appropriate anti-diabetic medicines if elevation in blood glucose is the main cause of sugar in the urine.

Dosage & Administration

Jatamansi Churna (Jatamansi Root Powder), Jatamansi extract and Jatamansi oil (Spikenard or nard oil) are used for therapeutic purposes. Each formulation has different dosage.

Jatamansi Churna (Jatamansi Root Powder) Dosage

The general dosage of Jatamansi Churna (Jatamansi Root Powder) is as follows.
Children8 to 60 mg per Kg Body Weight *
Adults1250 mg to 2500 mg *
Maximum Possible Dosage8 grams Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice a day with appropriate adjuvant, especially with water
Best Time to Take: 2 Hours After Food, or before sleep

Jatamansi Root Extract Dosage

However, some rodent studies have been conducted with dosage around 250-500mg/kg body weight Jatamansi root extract. (10, 11) Jatamansi extract dosage estimated from these studies for human consumption is likely to be 40 mg to 80 mg per Kg body weight. The estimated dosage is still significantly high for human. This dosage for Jatamansi extract is not suggestible in ayurveda. According to our opinion, it is significantly very high dosage for human. When you calculate it for person having 60 Kg body weight, it will be 2.4 to 4.8 grams. This dosage can be considered appropriate for its crude natural root powder or Churna, but not for the extract.

The general dosage of Jatamansi Root Extract is as follows.
Children4 to 8 mg per Kg Body Weight *
Adults250 mg to 500 mg *
Maximum Possible Dosage1500 mg Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice a day with appropriate adjuvant, especially with water
Best Time to Take: 2 Hours After Food, or before sleep

Jatamansi Decoction Dosage

However, Jatamansi Decoction is not good formulation because it loses its many volatile and aromatic compounds while preparing decoction. Still if Jatamansi Decoction is recommended, then it should be prepared using 10 grams Jatamansi coarse powder in 240 ml water and it should be reduced to 60 ml.

The general dosage of Jatamansi Decoction is as follows.
Adults30 to 60 ml prepared with 10 grams Jatamansi Powder *
Maximum Possible Dosage120 ml Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice a day
Best Time to Take: 30 minutes before meal

Jatamansi Oil (Spikenard Oil) Dosage

Jatamansi Oil or Spikenard Oil is generally used as topical application and as deodorant.  It is rarely recommended for oral intake (internal use). However, if it is recommended for internal use, it should be used in following dosage:

The general dosage of Jatamansi Oil or Spikenard Oil is as follows.
Adults1 to 5 drops *
Maximum Possible Dosage10 drops Per Day (in divided doses)
* Twice a day mixing in a cup of warm water or milk
Best Time to Take: Immediately After Food

Jatamansi Cold Infusion Dosage

Traditional Method: 48 grams of Jatamansi Powder is mixing in 384 grams (ml) cold water and left for overnight or for 12 hours. Then liquid is strained and taken in the dosage of 96 ml.

Because preparation should be fresh and should be prepared every day, so instead of taking 48 grams Jatamansi Powder, one can use 24 grams Jatamansi Powder and 192 ml cold water and leave it overnight. The liquid obtained in the morning can be used twice a day in divided dosage of about 96 ml.

Jatamansi Hot Infusion Dosage

Jatamansi Hot Infusion should be prepared from 4 grams of Jatamansi Powder and 240 ml hot water. The mixture of hot water and Jatamansi should be leaved overnight covering the vessel with lid and filtered in the morning. The same procedure should be followed for evening dosage.

Safety Profile

All preparations of Jatamansi are non-toxic and considerably safe when used in the time-tested dosage recommended in the ayurveda.

Side Effects

Consuming excess i.e. more than 4 grams twice daily (or 8 grams per day) of Nardostachys Jatamansi can lead to –

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. Loose stools or diarrhea
  4. Abdominal Cramps
  5. Frequent urination

In some rare people, these side effects may also appear with low doses. People prone to have loose stools with slight changes in diet should start taking Jatamansi Powder in very low dosage (i.e. 250 mg twice daily) and then its dosage should be gradually increased to its optimal dosage (i.e. 1.25 to 2.5 grams).

Allergic Reactions

People suffering from hypersensitivity to any of the chemical constituents of Nardostachys Jatamansi should avoid using this herb. An allergic reaction to this herb may cause a difficulty in breathing, skin rashes, itching and difficulty in swallowing.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Jatamansi is an emmenagogue, so it promotes menstrual discharge. Its higher dosage (more than 2000 mg powder) may result in spotting or bleeding in pregnancy. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid the use of this herb. Its extract should be absolutely avoided during pregnancy and lactation.

Contraindications

Menorrhagia: Jatamansi has emmenagogue action, so it promotes menstrual flow. However, the effect may also depend on the dosage, a low dosage (less than 500 mg twice daily) may not aggravate heavy bleeding, and this dosage is useful in pain associated with menstruation. Still, its heavier dosage (more than 1250 mg) should be avoided during periods, which is likely to increase menstruation. The effect of Jatamansi may also depend on individual patient symptoms, health condition and several other factors, which should also be taken in consideration.

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