Nardostachys jatamansi is an herb known for its potential ability to reduce stress and improve cognitive function and sleep . While clinical trials are lacking, the herb improved memory, reduced inflammation, and treated insomnia in pre-clinical studies. Read on to see the potential benefits of this herb. What Is Nardostachys jatamansi ?
Nardostachys jatamansi , a flowering herb of the Valerian family, is commonly called jatamansi spikenard, nard, muskroot, or nardin. The herb grows in the high altitudes (3,000-5000 m) of the eastern Himalayas. It has pink, bell-shaped flowers.
The herb was traditionally crushed and refined into an oil. This oil was used for medicine, religious uses, and even perfumes.
Today, Nardostachys jatamansi is typically used in the form of an oil called spikenard oil and as an oral supplement. Active Compounds
The active components in Nardostachys jatamansi include [ 1 ]: Jatamansone (valeranone)
Mechanisms of Action
Nardostachys jatamansi increases the levels of the following key neurotransmitters in the brain [ 2 ]:
Nardostachys jatamansi also inhibits inflammatory cytokines IL-1β , IL-6 , and tumor necrosis factor alpha ( TNF-α ) and deactivates p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), a class of enzymes involved in the inflammatory response to stress [ 3 ]. Snapshot
Potential benefits for insomnia, anxiety, brain function, and organ damage
Few mild adverse effects reported
Only one clinical trial carried out
Insufficient evidence for all benefits
Relatively unknown safety profile
Insufficient Evidence for:
Four grams of Nardostachys jatamansi 3x/day decreased the time to fall asleep by 61% and increased the amount of sleep by 48% in 34 patients with insomnia [ 4 ].
A small clinical trial is clearly insufficient to claim that Nardostachys jatamansi improves insomnia. Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to confirm this preliminary result. Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of Nardostachys jatamansi for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit. Brain Function
In mice, Nardostachys jatamansi improved learning and memory and protected from the cognitive impairment caused by diazepam and scopolamine [ 5 ].Its combination with crocetin and selenium (sodium selenite) protected rats from drug-induced cognitive impairment [ 6 ]. Nardostachys jatamansi decreased acetylcholinesterase activity by 50% in the brains of mice. Decreasing acetylcholinesterase activity led to an improvement in learning and memory in rats [ 7 , 8 ].Through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, Nardostachys jatamansi extract protected brain cells from the damage caused by a protein that triggers Alzheimer’s disease (beta-amyloid). Similarly, it prevented Parkinson’s disease in rats [ 9 , 10 ].It also reduced oxidative damage to brain cells caused by stroke in rats [ 11 ]. Stress and Anxiety Nardostachys jatamansi prevented an increase in cortisol and prevented ulcers from forming in mice exposed to cold [ 12 ].Similarly, it suppressed stress behaviors and reduced the levels of corticosterone, serotonin, and dopamine in mice and rats stressed by forced immobilization [ 13 , 12 ].Its extract reduced anxiety behaviors in mice, possibly by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain [ 14 ]. Depression Nardostachys jatamansi was traditionally included in a mixture of herbs called Mamsyadi Kwatha (80% Jatamansi) that was used to treat depression and anxiety [ 15 ].In mice exposed to stress tests, Nardostachys jatamansi decreased depressive symptoms. The effect was similar to popular antidepressant drugs Tofranil (Imipramine) and Zoloft (Sertraline) [ 16 ]. Diabetes Nardostachys jatamansi extract improved insulin sensitivity and reduced sugar production in the liver in diabetic mice [ 14 ]. Protecting Against Radiation Nardostachys jatamansi taken 15 days before exposure to radiation reduced radiation sickness in mice. It also reduced stress and protected against DNA damage caused by radiation [ 17 , 18 ].Radiation is often used to treat certain cancers. However, radiation therapy is known to increase the risk of other diseases in the circulatory system. Nardostachys jatamansi protected against damage to the blood and lymph tissues caused by radiation in mice [ 19 ]. Antioxidant Nardostachys jatamansi reduced oxidative damage to DNA and fats in cell-based studies [ 20 ]. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Nardostachys jatamansi reversed symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome ( CFS ), such as despair, increased anxiety, and decreased movement, in mice [ 21 ]. Seizures Treatment with Nardostachys jatamansi in mice caused significant elevation of antioxidants that protect neurons ( superoxide dismutase and glutathione reductase) in the brain. This prevented seizures and impaired voluntary movement (dyskinesia) [ 22 ].Mice that given electroshocks showed an increased resistance to seizures after treatment with Nardostachys jatamansi [ 23 ]. Heart Protection Doxorubicin is a drug that causes heart damage. Nardostachys jatamansi restored antioxidant enzymes and reduced oxidative damage in rats exposed to doxorubicin [ 24 , 25 ].A review of animal and cell studies found that Nardostachys jatamansi prevented inflammation, oxidative damage, and cell death in heart muscle tissues and restored a normal heart rate [ 26 ]. Anti-Inflammatory Nardostachys jatamansi prevented inflammation caused by injecting bacteria and their polysaccharides into the bloodstream of mice [ 27 , 3 ]. Protecting the Pancreas Nardostachys jatamansi reduced inflammation in mice with pancreatic inflammation (pancreatitis) [ 28 ]. Nardostachys jatamansi reduced cell death in pancreatitis caused by alcohol [ 29 ]. Nardostachys jatamansi completely prevented the increase in blood sugar and insulin that is usually seen in rats given the drug streptozotocin. The herb prevented damage to the cells of the pancreas that produce insulin (beta cells) by preventing NF-kappaB release [ 30 ]. Protecting the Stomach A multi-herbal formula with Nardostachys jatamansi, licorice, and Damask rose prevented stomach ulcers caused by alcohol in rats [ 31 ]. Protecting the Liver Nardostachys jatamansi healed liver damage and increased […]