Nardostachys jatamansi (of the family Valerianaceae, plant is synonymous with Nardostachys grandiflora) is a plant commonly referred to as either Spikenard, Muskroot, or Jatamansi that has been used in Ayurveda for the medicinal purposes of anticonvulsion and antiepileptic or a general antistress/sedative compound. Jatamansi has similar traditional claims to Bacopa Monnieri such as antistress, anticonvulsive, antiepileptic, and cognitive enhancing, however more human studies are needed.
Jatamansi is an adaptogenic herb known to lower stress and anxiety levels. The bioactive compounds can be found in the rhizomes of the plant. Some of the compounds said to promote hair growth and reverse graying are Jatamansic acid, Nardostachysin, Nardal/Nardin. The rhizomes of N. jatamansi have been used additionally to promote hair growth, treat scalp ailments such as dandruff, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. Let’s dig into these benefits.
Promotes Hair Growth
Jatamansi rhizomes are used in ayurveda for the preparation of aromatic medicinal hair oils that promote hair growth and ward off graying. Jatamansi roots or powder are soaked in almond or coconut oil overnight and then simmered in medium heat to make a topical hair growth oil. Animal studies confirm that topical application of jatamansi extracts does make hair grow faster - there was a 30% acceleration in the time taken to regrow hair in one study. Components such as Nardin and Jatamansic acid may be responsible for this effect.
Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Jatamansi is said to help reduce chronic inflammation and oxidative stress can both damage your health significantly and contribute to a wide array of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. Oxidative stress can develop when your body is unable to neutralize free radicals that are generated through external factors such as environmental pollution, toxins, tobacco, and alcohol. Jatamansi’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties can defend against oxidative stress and have a protective effect on your health. The bioactive components such as jatamansone, β-sitosterol, elemol, jatamansin, calarene, jatamansinol, nardostachnol, valeranone may be responsible for Jatamansi’s beneficial effects.
Ayurvedic texts list Jatamansi as a nidrajanana (hypnotic and sedative) drug. In one study, when 4 gm of jatamansi churna (powdered jatamansi rhizome) was given with milk thrice a day after meals, it was effective in treating people with insomnia. This treatment improved initiation of sleep by 61.34% and duration of sleep by 48.25%. It also reduced disturbed sleep and disruptions in everyday tasks by 53.08% and 43.85% respectively. Jatamansi may even help improve the levels of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This neurotransmitter calms your brain and helps you get restful sleep. Compounds such as valeranone and valepotriates present in the herb are thought to be accountable for this effect.
As someone that battles with stress and anxiety, I am always looking for ways to help lower and reduce such symptoms as tension headaches, migraines, and backaches. Jatamansi’s adaptogenic properties may help lower and reduce stress and anxiety levels. During one study, stress was induced in mice by exposing them to cold. But when these mice were pretreated with extracts of jatamansi, it was found that it inhibited the formation of gastric ulcers and reversed changes in biochemical markers of gastric ulceration induced by stress. It also changed stress-induced increase in spleen and adrenal weights and corticosterone level. This anti-stress activity of jatamansi may be attributable to its antioxidant activity.
Boosts Learning And Memory
Jatamansi is also categorized as rasayana (rejuvenative) and medhya (brain tonic) in ayurveda and is said to improve your memory and learning quotient. Animal studies have found that jatamansi was able to significantly boost memory and learning in young mice and reverse amnesia induced by chemicals as well as amnesia due to aging. The herb is thought to bring about an improvement in memory by facilitating cholinergic transmission in your brain. That is, it impacts the functioning of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator which plays an important part in memory and learning. The antioxidant property of jatamansi might lie at the root of this beneficial effect.
This article is written by Michelle Prince.