Spikenard finds mention in the Pharmacopoeia of Hippocrates, and the reference to its aromatic properties can be found in ancient Egyptian texts.The scientific name of spikenard is Nardostachys jatamansi. Also known as nard, nardin, and muskroot, spikenard is a flowering plant that belongs to the Valerianaceae family. It is native to certain regions of India, Nepal, Bhutan, and China. Its aroma is quite similar to that of Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), which is a perennial flowering plant.
Due to its woody, sweet-and-spicy fragrance, nard has long been used in the form of incense in many religious traditions. In the Old Testament, there is reference to nard being used for the incense in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It also finds mention in the Gospel of John, where Mary used an ointment of nard to anoint the feet of Jesus. It was used for preparing a scented oil called Nardinium by the Romans. Ancient texts of the Egyptian, Hebrew, and Hindu civilizations reveal that nard was considered precious, and used by the kings and priests. Spikenard essential oil is now widely used in aromatherapy due to its aroma and calming effect. Let's find out more about spikenard oil uses and benefits.
Essential oils are volatile organic compounds that are extracted from a specific part of a plant. The essential oil of nard is extracted from the dried and crushed rhizomes and rootlets through the process of steam distillation. The rhizomes are rich in unsaturated hydrocarbons called sesquiterpenoids. Bornyl acetate, valeranone, isobornyl valerianate, borneol, terpinyl valerianate, etc., are some of the chemical constituents of this oil. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy due to its therapeutic and aromatic properties. Being an essential oil, it is in a concentrated form, and needs to be mixed with other carrier oils. It can be blended with the essential oils of clove, lavender, geranium, orange, pine, rose, juniper, petitgrain, sage, and myrrh.
The oil extracted from spikenard is used as an ingredient in Ayurvedic medicines, perfumes, and skin tonics. The essential oil of nard has the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of more than 54,000 µTE/100 g (Trolox equivalent per 100 g). ORAC is used with reference to the antioxidant capacity, which is the ability to counteract the damaging effects of free radicals. This essential oil offers several health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. It also has a very soothing effect on the mind and the body.
There are references of the oil of nard being used in combination with other medicinal oils, in ancient Ayurvedic texts. Due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties, this essential oil is topically applied for treating skin infections.
➞ Besides being applied topically, it can also be inhaled. A few drops can be added to a pot of steaming hot water. Breathing in the steam for a few minutes will surely provide relief.
➞ Needless to say, the essential oil of nard is used in aromatherapy, due to its ability to calm nerves and provide relief from stress and anxiety. It is believed that it may prove beneficial for people affected by insomnia.
➞ You could also add a few drops of the oil to your bath water. This will work well for people who sweat profusely. Owing to its fragrance, nard is used in perfumes, deodorants, soaps, lotions, air fresheners, and aromatherapy products.
➞ It has long been used in Ayurveda for treating skin problems. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, it might prove beneficial in alleviating the symptoms of dermatitis and psoriasis.
Owing to its healing effects on the body, as well as mind, the spikenard essential oil is widely used in alternative healing therapies. Though the health benefits of this oil are numerous, users should do a skin patch test before they apply it on their skin. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, and people affected by epilepsy must refrain from using this oil. Since this oil is in a concentrated form, it must first be blended with a carrier oil. Remember that it's best not to use any essential oil without consultation from a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner.