Spikenard (botanical name Nardostachy jatamansi) is a flowering plant species belonging to the Valerian family. This species is commonly found growing in the eastern regions of the Himalayas, mainly in the area covering Nepal, Bhutan, Kumaon, and Sikkim. Spikenard usually grows up to a height of 1 meter and bears pink hued flowers having the shape of bells. Generally, you will find this herb growing at an altitude between 3000 meters and 5000 meters.
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The underground stems or rhizomes of this plant are crushed and subsequently distilled to obtain a very potent aromatic essential oil. Spikenard essential oil has an amber hue and an extremely dense consistency. Spikenard essential oil is also distilled from the dried out roots of the plant.
The essential oil of spikenard is frequently used in the form of a perfume and incense. This aromatic essential oil also possesses a number of therapeutic properties and, hence, is used as a sedative. In addition, this herbal remedy is believed to cure insomnia, effectively deal with birth problems and various other trivial health issues.
Spikenard is known by several other names including muskroot, nardin and nard. In ancient period, people used the essential oil extracted from this herb (Nardostachy jatamansi) in the form of a medicine, perfume and also in religious ceremonies. Traditionally, the essential oil of spikenard was used in ceremonies to anoint dignitaries. As this essential oil possesses healing properties, it is often applied for spiritual purposes with a view to ensure peace as well as protection.
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Moreover, during the medieval period, people in Europe used spikenard for seasoning foods, particularly as a spice that is employed to add flavour to hypocras, a locally prepared spiced and sweetened wine. Since the 17th century, spikenard formed one of the major ingredients in a potent beer known as stingo. The essential oil is extracted using the distillation process and it has a bright yellow hue. The aroma of the essential oil of spikenard is woody, earthy, musty and harsh.
The essential oil of spikenard is extracted through the steam distillation from the dehydrated roots of the herb and widely used in perfumery. This oil is extensively used to flavour foods.
Compared to the aroma of the essential oil extracted from valerian root, the fragrance of the essential oil of spikenard is not only more potent, but also woodsy and spicy. Mostly, the essential oil of spikenard is used in the perfume industry.
Often, the essential oil of spikenard has been used in manufacturing incense, soaps, toiletries, homeopathic remedies, tonics, face lotions, deodorants, body sprays, lotions, air fresheners, hair products, shampoos, skin care products, body creams, perfumes, colognes, bath salts, detergents and household cleaning products. In addition, this essential oil has also been used in the form of an aromatherapy oil and massage oil.
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The essential oil of spikenard can also be used effectively to ease migraines, insomnia, stress, tension and nervous indigestion. Apparently, this essential oil possesses rejuvenating properties, particularly for mature skin. It can also be useful in dealing with skin inflammations, allergies and rashes.
Using the essential oil of spikenard in a diluted state in baths or in vapour therapy may be useful in relieving stress, tension and also treating insomnia. When blended with other massage oils, spikenard essential oil can prove to be helpful in dealing with insomnia, migraine, stress and tension.
The essential oil of spikenard also possesses antibacterial and antifungal properties, which make it an effectual skin care remedy. Use of this essential oil is helpful in curing diseases that have their roots in various skin infections as well as infections within the body, such as food poisoning caused by fungi. In addition, spikenard essential oil effectively deals with dermatitis, itching, patches on the skin, deformation in the skin and even psoriasis.
The antibacterial property of the spikenard plant as well as the essential oil derived from it makes it a very strong remedy for several types of skin diseases that are caused by bacterial infections. The herb and the essential oil both work on the skin, in addition to stopping all types of bacterial growths. You can apply spikenard essential oil to wounds with a view to shield them from bacterial infections. Moreover, it has been found that this essential oil is highly effectual in treating various types of bacterial infections, including those in the urinary bladder, the urethra and also the kidneys. Moreover, the essential oil of spikenard is also useful in treating a variety of other conditions like food poisoning, cholera, tetanus, sepsis and even athlete's foot.
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The essential oil of spikenard has a moss-like and earthy scent that is not only pleasing to our nostrils, but also the mind. This oil soothes the nerves as well as the mind, thereby giving one a happy feeling. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that this essential oil is often employed in the form of a deodorant, especially for its pleasing aroma. Moreover, this oil is not harsh and so it does not cause allergies or headaches, which are the common side effects of using many synthetic deodorants.
Spikenard essential oil possesses anti-inflammatory property. This attribute of this oil makes it effective in combating almost all types of inflammation; irrespective of whether they influence the nervous system or the respiratory and digestive systems.
Improper excretion, also referred to as constipation, is responsible for nearly 70 percent of the health problems encountered by most people. This health condition not only disturbs us psychologically, but mentally too. This issue can be treated with the help of various laxatives available in the market, but several such laxatives, especially those prepared synthetically, are usually very harsh on our digestive as well as excretory systems. Use of such synthetic laxatives dehydrate the internal walls of our digestive tract, especially the intestines as well the excretory tract, as they wash out the mucous membrane almost entirely.
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Aside from the therapeutic properties of the essential oil of spikenard mentioned above, it is also a familiar sedative. Using this essential oil helps in maintaining the mental, physical as well as psychological balance, in addition to getting rid of stress, depression and various other negative feelings such as anger, anxiety and panic. The sedative property of spikenard essential oil is also useful in tranquilizing cardiac issues like restlessness and abnormal palpitations. The relaxing and sedative action of this essential oil facilitates insomnia patients to get sound and healthy sleep.
The essential oil of spikenard also possesses depurative property the ovaries and the uterus. Application of spikenard essential oil for this purpose not only stimulates the ovaries and the uterus, but also promotes secretion of a number of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. These hormones aid in maintaining optimal health of these organs as well as their proper reproductive aptitudes.
Apparently, the use of spikenard essential oil does not cause any adverse side effect. Nevertheless, similar to several other essential oils, pregnant women and small children should never use this oil. Use of a number of essential oils may be responsible for allergic reactions and/ or skin irritation in a number of people, especially those with sensitive skin. Therefore, it is always prudent to undertake a patch test before you start using any essential oil on a regular basis.