Nardostachys jatamansi is an herb known for its ability to reduce stress and improve cognitive function and sleep. While clinical trials are lacking, pre-clinical studies show the herb can improve memory, reduce inflammation, and treat insomnia. Read on to see the many benefits of this herb.
What is Nardostachys jatamansi?
Nardostachys jatamansi, a flowering herb of the Valerian family, is commonly called Jatamansi Spikenard, Nard, Muskroot, or Nardin. The herb grows in the high altitudes (3,000 – 5000 m) of the eastern Himalayas. It has pink, bell-shaped flowers.
The herb was traditionally crushed and refined into an oil. This oil was used for medicine, religious uses, and even perfumes.
Nardostachys jatamansi is typically used in the form of an oil called Spikenard oil and as an oral supplement.
The active components in Nardostachys jatamansi include :
- Jatamansone (valeranone)
- Desoxo-narchinol-A (DN)
Mechanisms of Action
- Nardostachys jatamansi increases levels of the following key neurotransmitters in the brain:
- Nardostachys jatamansi inhibits inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)
- Nardostachys jatamansi deactivates p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), a class of enzymes involved in the inflammatory response to stress .
Health Benefits of Nardostachys jatamansi
1) May Enhance Learning And Memory
2) Reduces Stress
3) May Treat Depression
In mice exposed to stress tests, Nardostachys jatamansi decreased depressive symptoms. The effect was similar to popular antidepressant drugs Tofranil (Imipramine) and Zoloft (Sertraline) .
4) Protects Against Radiation
Nardostachys jatamansi taken 15 days before exposure to radiation reduced radiation sickness in mice. It also reduced stress and protected against DNA damage caused by radiation .
Radiation is often used to treat certain cancers. However, radiation therapy is known to increase the risk for other diseases in the circulatory system .
Nardostachys jatamansi protected against damage to the blood and lymph tissues caused by radiation in mice .
5) Has Antioxidant Effects
Nardostachys jatamansi reduces oxidative damage to DNA and fats in cell studies .
6) May Help Treat Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Symptoms of despair, increased anxiety, and decreased movement were reversed with Nardostachys jatamansi in a mouse model of CFS .
7) May Protect Against Seizures
Nardostachys jatamansi protects against seizures and impaired voluntary movement (dyskinesia).
Mice that were shocked after treatment with Nardostachys jatamansi had an increased resistance to seizures .
8) Treats Insomnia
9) May Protect The Heart
Nardostachys jatamansi restored heart cell membrane function in rats given doxorubicin .
10) May Reduce Inflammation
Nardostachys jatamansi prevented inflammation caused by injecting bacteria into the bloodstream of mice .
11) Protects the Pancreas
Nardostachys jatamansi reduced inflammation in a mouse model of pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis) .
Nardostachys jatamansi reduced cell death in pancreatitis caused by alcohol .
Nardostachys jatamansi completely prevented the increase in blood sugar and insulin that is usually seen in rats given the drug streptozotocin. The herb prevented damage to the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells) by preventing NF-kappaB release .
12) May Protect The Liver
Nardostachys jatamansi healed liver damage and increased survival rates in rats treated with drugs toxic to the liver .
13) May Increase Hair Growth
Nardostachys jatamansi oil used topically increased hair growth by 30% in mice .
14) Has Antimicrobial Activity
Nardostachys jatamansi has been traditionally used in India to treat infections.
Essential oil from Nardostachys jatamansi slowed the growth of the fungi Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, and Fusarium oxysporum .
Nardostachys jatamansi extract has significant antibacterial properties in cell studies .
15) Has Anticancer Effects
Nardostachys jatamansi caused triggered cell death of breast cancer cells (apoptosis) and prevented their growth .
The majority of studies on Nardostachys jatamansi have been in rodents. While these studies are promising, controlled clinical trials are necessary to replicate the effects seen in rodents.
Side Effects and Precautions
There are no well-documented side effects or adverse reactions when taking the herb as a whole. Patients who have hypersensitivity reactions, are pregnant or lactating, and/or are taking prescription drugs should avoid use due to a lack of clinical studies.
Spikenard essential oil may cause eye irritation.
While the optimal dosage has not been established, clinical trials have used a dosage of 12 g/day of the powdered root .
Users report Jatamansi oil effectively treats inflammation from colds sores and acne within a few hours. When applied to the skin, users report a reduction in wrinkles and more youthful appearance.
The oil helps users naturally treat headaches, anxiety, and pain. Many users apply Jatamansi oil to the legs after exercise to treat leg cramps and sore feet. Users report it also works great as a sleep aid and natural treatment for insomnia.
Other users report the oil is very pungent when sniffed from the bottle, but becomes a more subtle scent with a few drops. Other than that, there are no reported side effects or overdoses.
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