Also known as "Indian Valerian", a flowering plant of the valerian family that grows in the Himalayas of Nepal, China, and India, Nardostachys jatamansi has a remarkable history of use.
Once considered precious for its medicinal qualities, it was also used by ancient Egyptians and wealthy Roman women in aromatic and beauty preparations.
In biblical times, a single pint of Jatamansi essential oil cost an average of an entire years salary. It was also said to have been used by Mary Magdalene to anoint the feet of Christ.
Jatamansi is primarily used in modern medicine for cognitive and neurological function benefits, classified as hypno-sedative in Ayurveda, it is used in treatment of insomnia and other sleep disorders, hysteria and depressive illness. Some conditions where it is indicated include; chronic stress, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety and nervous disorders like epilepsy. It helps relieve tension stored in the body and calms hot emotions.
It also supports the digestive system by fighting bad bacteria and preventing its growth both inside & outside the body, so it’s great for your gut biome. Jatamansi works on the female reproductive system by balancing the production of estrogen and progesterone, the two main hormones secreted by the ovaries. It is also used as an aphrodisiac and is a powerful blood cleanser.
Jatamansi is said to elevate awareness, enhance memory and calm the mind, help relieve nervous agitation, tension, headaches, restlessness and mental instability. Its sedative properties help to combat stress and promote healthy sleep patterns.
The stem of the Jatamansi plant is powdered and traditionally consumed with honey, ghee or water.
It acts as a potent antidepressant and anxiolytic via 2 main mechanisms of action. Firstly it has been shown to regulate levels of feel good neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Secondly it works to balance the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function. One study showed it outperformed pharmaceutical benzodiazepine Estazolam in the management of anxiety.1
Other journal published studies are numerous and show the following benefits;
Limited results from behavioral tests revealed that an extract from N. jatamansi exhibited significant antidepressant activity.2
A 15-day treatment with N. jatamansi caused an overall increase in the levels of central monoamines and inhibitory amino acids, including a change in the levels of serotonin, GABA and taurine in the brain.3
Pretreatment with N. jatamansi for 15 days protected against tissue death caused by decreased blood flow. The protective effect may be associated with improving glutathione content, inhibiting lipid peroxidation, and activity on the sodium/potassium, ATPase and catalase enzyme systems.4
The efficacy of the extract was compared with the standard drug Imipramine. Jatamansi produced significant antidepressant effect and its efficacy was found to be comparable to Imipramine. It significantly improves the locomotor activity in case of sleep deprivation which is comparable to normal control. This finding suggests that N. jatamansi has dose dependent antidepressant activity and can also be used in patients suffering from depression due to sleep disturbances. 5
Nardostachys jatamansi was studied for the growth of hairs due to cancer treatment. The results confirmed hair growth promotion activities of this plant.6
N. jatamansi extract significantly improved learning and memory and also reversed the amnesia induced by diazepam and scopolamine. Hence, N. jatamansi might prove to be a useful memory restorative agent in the treatment of dementia seen in elderly persons. 7, 8
The antioxidant activity of N. jatamansi was studied by measuring the free radical scavenging activity. It showed potent antioxidant activity and significantly reversed the stress-induced elevation of lipid peroxidation and nitric oxide levels and decrease in catalase activity in the brain. It possesses significant anti-stress activity, which may be due to its antioxidant activity.9
The protective effect of N. jatamansi on neurobehavioral activities was studied and proved effectiveness in focal ischemia most probably by virtue of its antioxidant property.10
The roots of N. jatamansi was explored for in vitro anti proliferative potential against two neuroblastoma human cancer cells. It showed significant and dose-dependent inhibitory effect for proliferation of both the cell lines of neuroblastoma.11
Significant radioprotective activity.12
If that isn’t enough to make you want to take this ancient wonder herb every day, it is also known to boost immune function, promote a glowing complexion, encourage thick, healthy hair growth and prevent and even reverse greying.