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Nardostachys jatamansi


Nardostachys jatamansi


No documentation

Vernacular Name

Spikenard, musk root, muskroot, nard, nardin, jatamansi


Nardostachys jatamansi or Spikenard is an herb that is considered as one of the Eleven Holy Herbs used for incense as mentioned in the Old Testament Bible. It was used in ancient times to anoint the feet of revered persons. It continues to be used today as incense that is useful for chronic grief and depression. Other than its medicinal usage, the plant is known for its pleasant odor, as it has been used as a perfume for centuries.

The thin, ovate, leaves of N. jatamansi grow vertically directly from the woody rhizome, while the stem yields small, white flowers that grow at the end f the stem, above the height of the leaves. The fruit from the flowers is generally small and white, covered in thin white hairs. Only the root and rhizome make up the medicinal parts of the plant, and they are covered in thin, reddish-brown hairs.

Origin / Habitat

N. jatamansi is an upright herb growing to a height of 60 cm, native to the higher elevations of India, China and Nepal, to an elevation of roughly 3,000 to 5000m.

Chemical Constituents

Alpha-patchoulenese, angelicin, beta-eudesemol, beta-patchoulenese, beta-sitosterol, calarene, calarenol, elemol, jatamansin, jatamansinol, jatamansone, n-hexacosane, n-hexacosanol, n-hexacosanyl arachidate, n-hexacosanyl isolverate, nardol, nardostechone, norsechelanone, oroselol, patchouli alcohol, seychelane, seychellen, seychellene, valeranal, valeranone.[1],[2]

Plant Part Used

Root, rhizome

Medicinal Uses





Recovery from grief



Most Frequently Reported Uses 





Dosage Range 

0.6-1.3g daily – Powder; 5g three times daily

Pure drug; 2-6 minims – Essential Oil.


Most Common Dosage

There is no common dosage reported for N. jatamansi.


Standardization Dosage

There is no standardization for N. jatamansi



N. jatamansi is primarily used in modern medicine for cognitive and neurological function benefits. Numerous animal studies have displayed the benefits of the extract of N. jatamansi on learning and memory. One study suggests that the improved learning and memory, as well as the reversal of age-related amnesia could be related to the ability of N. jatamansi to facilitate the transmission of acetylcholine in the brain, as well as its activity as an antioxidant. The study suggests that N. jatamansi could be used to treat various cognitive disorders including amnesia, Alzheimer’s and ADHD.[3] Other animal studies suggest that, due to its antioxidant activity, N. jatamansi could be useful in treating Parkinson’s disease[4] and cerebral ischemia.[5] N. jatamansi also had a significant overall increase of central monoamines and inhibitory amino acids, and therefore has a potential for use as a neuroprotective.[6]

In an animal model N. jatamansi demonstrated antidepressant activity via GABAB receptors and a decrease in GABA.[7] N. jatamansi may also have anticonvulsant activity, as it has been shown to significantly increase the threshold of electroshock-induced seizure.[8]


N. jatamansi demonstrates cardioprotective activities in animal models. Its antioxidant activity reduced cardiac damage in rats, as it restored lipid peroxide and enzyme levels to almost normal.[9],[10]

Liver damage in rats was limited and survival rates were increased when treated with N. jatamansi, therefore suggesting a hepatoprotective role.[11]


There are no clinical studies investigating the use of this herb.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, not to be used by individuals with seizure disorders, those taking medication for seizures or those taking medication for depression as use of this herb may alter the effects and dosage of the prescribed medication.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

Not to be used internally by individuals with neurological conditions without consulting a physician.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used by children

Adverse reaction

No documentation

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  1) Ayuverda


  1. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2001.
  2. Bose BC, Vijayvarngiya R, Bhatnagar JN.Nardostachys Jatamansi DC: a phyto-chemical study of its active constituents. Indian J Med Sci. Oct 1957;11(10):799-802.
  3. Joshi H, Parle M. Nardostachys jatamansi improves learning and memory in mice. J Med Food. Spring 2006;9(1):113-118.
  4. Ahmad M, Yousuf S, Khan MB, Hoda MN, Ahmad AS, Ansari MA, Ishrat T, Agrawal AK, Islam F. Attenuation by Nardostachys jatamansi of 6-hydroxydopamine-induced parkinsonism in rats: behavioral, neurochemical, and immunohistochemical studies. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. Jan 2006;83(1):150-160.
  5. Salim S, Ahmad M, Zafar KS, Ahmad AS, Islam F. Protective effect of Nardostachys jatamansi in rat cerebral ischemia. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. Jan 2003;74(2):481-486.
  6. Prabhu V, Karanth KS, Rao A. Effects of Nardostachys jatamansi on biogenic amines and inhibitory amino acids in the rat brain. Planta Med. Apr 1994;60(2):114-117.
  7. Dhingra D, Goyal PK. Inhibition of MAO and GABA: probable mechanisms for antidepressant-like activity of Nardostachys jatamansi DC. in mice. Indian J Exp Biol. Apr 2008;46(4):212-218.
  8. Rao VS, Rao A, Karanth KS. Anticonvulsant and neurotoxicity profile of Nardostachys jatamansi in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 1 Dec 2005;102(3):351-356.
  9. Subashini R, Yogeeta S, Gnanapragasam A, Devaki T. Protective effect of Nardostachys jatamansi on oxidative injury and cellular abnormalities during doxorubicin-induced cardiac damage in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. Feb 2006;58(2):257-262.
  10. Subashini R, Ragavendran B, Gnanapragasam A, Yogeeta SK, Devaki T. Biochemical study on the protective potential of Nardostachys jatamansi extract on lipid profile and lipid metabolizing enzymes in doxorubicin intoxicated rats. Pharmazie. May 2007;62(5):382-387.
  11. Ali S, Ansari KA, Jafry MA, Kabeer H, Diwakar G. Nardostachys jatamansi protects against liver damage induced by thioacetamide in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. Aug 2000;71(3):359-363.

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