Used by the ancient Egyptians as a healing oil and mentioned in the Bible, spikenard essential oil has been a traditional medicinal oil for thousands of years along with frankincense, myrrh, and helichrysum oil. Today it is not one of the more popular oils used in aromatherapy — in fact it is more recognized as a substitute for valerian oil than anything else. In India however the plant itself is commonly used in herbal healing, although it is known as jatamansi, not spikenard.
The plant this oil is extracted from is Nardastachus jatamansi. The dried and crushed rhizome and roots are steam-distilled to create the pungent, spicy, woody aromatic oil. Spikenard is indigenous to the East — specifically the Indian subcontinent, China, and Japan. Much of the essential oil that is produced today is made in the United States and Europe.
Properties of Spikenard Oil
Like other essential oils spikenard has antimicrobial properties. It can be used to fight and prevent infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungus. This is great for cleansing the skin, keeping it free of bacteria. With anti-inflammatory properties as well it can act to calm irritated skin.
Closely related to valerian, which is one of the most prominent sedative herbs used in traditional herbal healing, spikenard also possesses calming and sedative qualities. This is beneficial for maintaining psychological well-being by relieving stress, tension, and anxiety. Spikenard can also be used by people who suffer from insomnia.
Spikenard oil also has deodorant properties. It was a popular plant essence used in perfumes by the women of ancient Rome. Reputed to have skin rejuvenating properties it was also used in beauty products.
The main chemical constituents which give this essential oil its properties are jonon, bornyl acetate, aristolene, coumarin, calarene, jatamanshinic acid, and nardol.
How to Use
There are several ways to use essential oils. The active aromatic molecules can be inhaled — use the oil in an essential oil diffuser or simply add three drops to a bowl of hot water and breathe in. You can also bathe with spikenard, which is a great way to take advantage of the benefits of spikenard to the skin. Add about ten drops to a cup of water or milk and add to bath water.
Add twenty drops to eight ounces of unscented lotion and apply to the skin. For a spikenard massage oil use twenty-five drops to two ounces of a carrier oil such as jojoba, sweet almond, or even olive oil. To make an antibacterial, deodorizing room mist add twenty-five drops to sixteen ounces of water, mix in a spray bottle and freshen carpets and furniture.
Spikenard blends well with patchouli, clove, frankincense, pine, rose, myrrh, and lavender.
While spikenard essential oil is generally safe for use, do not use if pregnant and consult a doctor if you have any serious medical conditions just to be safe. It is non-toxic and non-irritating, but as with all essential oils it is not intended to be used internally or undiluted.
Balch, Phyllis, CNC. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition.” (The Penguin Group, 2006).
Mountain Rose Herbs https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/eo/spikenard.html
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