Dainty and delicate looking it may be, but the jatamansi hides some serious muscle power behinds its humble appearance. Also called spikenard, muskroot, or Nardostachys jatamansi, this perennial, hairy plant is related to the valerian. The rhizomes or underground stem of the plant is used extensively in ayurveda for its potent medicinal qualities. Here’s a detailed look at how jatamansi can sort out many of your health niggles.1
1. Has Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Bioactive components such as jatamansone, β-sitosterol, elemol, jatamansin, calarene, jatamansinol, nardostachnol, valeranone may be responsible for jatamansi’s beneficial effects.
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 as well as when food is converted to energy in your body. Meanwhile, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking can all contribute to this and promote inflammation.2 3 Jatamansi has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can defend against oxidative stress and have a protective effect on your health.4 5
2. Promotes Hair Growth
Jatamansi roots are soaked in sesame oil overnight and then simmered in medium heat to make a medicated oil for hair growth.
Jatamansi rhizomes are used in ayurveda for the preparation of aromatic medicinal hair oils that promote hair growth and ward off graying. 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.6
id="3-aids-sleep">3. Aids Sleep
On average, adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. But if you spend your nights tossing and turning, struggling to get a good night’s sleep, jatamansi may be able to help.7 Ayurvedic texts list this herb 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.8 Compounds such as valeranone and valepotriates present in the herb are thought to be accountable for this effect.9
id="4-reduces-stress">4. Reduces Stress
Most of us battle some level of stress on a daily basis without giving it a second thought. But stress can have quite a damaging effect on your health. It can give you tension headaches, migraines, and backaches as well as worsen acid reflux and ulcers. 10 But jatamansi may be able to help you deal with it. During the course of a 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.11
5. Protects Your Liver
The liver is the largest organ in your body and it performs many critical functions, including helping digest food, removing toxins, and storing energy. Animal studies show that jatamansi can protect your liver from the onslaught of harmful chemicals. One study even found that pre-treatment with this herb improved survival rates in rats administered lethal amounts of a chemical toxic to the liver.12
id="6-boosts-learning-and-memory">6. Boosts Learning And Memory
Jatamansi is also categorized as rasayana (rejuvenative) and medhya (brain tonic) in ayurveda and might be just the ticket if you want 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.13
id="7-counters-neurodegenerative-diseases-like-alzheimers">7. Counters Neurodegenerative Diseases Like Alzheimer’s
Jatamansi may be beneficial for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Oxidative stress plays a critical role in the development of Parkinson’s disease and the antioxidant property of jatamansi should help counter this. According to an animal study, treatment with an extract of this herb slowed down neuronal injury in rats. It also reduced problems with muscular coordination and locomotor activity induced by a drug that mimicked the effects of Parkinson’s.14 Meanwhile, research also indicates that this herb can inhibit acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that plays a role in the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This means that it might work like cholinesterase-inhibiting drugs prescribed for people with Alzheimer’s disease that improve cognition by boosting acetylcholine 15 16
8. Lowers High Blood Pressure
Hypertension is a silent killer and can trigger problems like kidney failure, stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.17 Jatamansi is used to tackle this condition in the traditional Siddha system of medicine. And this traditional use has also been backed up by scientific research – one animal study observed that when the herb was administered to subjects, both diastolic and systolic blood pressure reduced.18 Its diuretic and antioxidant properties may be responsible for this effect. Jatamansi may also work as an ACE inhibitor. Angiotensin-converting enyme or ACE is a component of the renin–angiotensin system (RAS), a hormonal system in our body that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance. ACE plays a role in increasing blood pressure by causing blood vessels to constrict.19
9. Controls Asthma Attacks
During an asthma attack, the smooth muscle cells in your bronchi constrict and your airways become swollen and inflamed. Animal studies show that jatamansi has a bronchodilatory effect, helping dilate the bronchi and bronchioles, reducing respiratory airway resistance, and improving airflow to the lungs. The herb extracts also exhibit an antispasmodic effect that controls bronchial spasms that cause these smooth muscles to constrict and narrow your airway. Jatamansi can help manage asthma thanks to this dual action.20
10. Helps Treat Epilepsy
Research indicates that jatamansi has anticonvulsant properties. In an animal study, jatamansi root extracts were given to the subjects before seizures were induced by administering electric shock or a seizure-inducing chemical. The herb was found to have a beneficial effect, helping reduce seizures. Jatamansi may be able to influence inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission and increase GABA levels, helping diminish the risk of seizures.21
11. Helps Fight Depression
Traditionally, jatamansi is an important constituent of a medicinal formulation known as “mamsyadi kwatha” which is used to treat depression. This formulation also includes other beneficial components such as parasika yavani (Hyocymus niger) and ashwagandha (Withania somnifera). 22
One in 10 people faces the brunt of depression at some point in their lives. But jatamansi has shown potential as an alternative remedy to treat depression.23 Animal studies show that the herb extract has a significant antidepressant effect that’s comparable to commonly used medications for the condition. 24 Another animal study showed that administering jatamansi for 15 days increased the levels of GABA, serotonin, and taurine in the subjects.25 Imbalance in these neurotransmitters is believed to play a role in the development of anxiety and depression.
12. Helps Treat Pancreatitis
When your pancreas becomes inflamed, it can cause symptoms such as severe abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Animal studies support jatamansi’s potential in fighting both acute and mild pancreatitis. Treatment with this herb was found to reduce not just swelling in the pancreas but also leakage of pancreatic enzymes such as amylase and lipase into the blood, and lung injury associated with pancreatitis.26 Jatamansi may even have a protective effect against triggers that could cause pancreatitis.27
13. Has Potential To Fight Cancer
Jatamansi has been used in traditional medicinal systems to fight cancer. And modern research suggests that it has anti-cancer effects. For instance, one in vitro study found that it promoted cell death and hindered the cell cycle of breast cancer cells.28 Do speak to your doctor to understand if jatamansi can be helpful as a supplementary treatment in your fight against cancer.
|↑1||Purnima, Bhatt M., and Preeti Kothiyal. “A review article on phytochemistry and pharmacological profiles of Nardostachys jatamansi DC-medicinal herb.” Journal of pharmacognosy and phytochemistry 3, no. 5 (2015): 102-106.|
|↑2||Antioxidants: What You Need to Know.
|↑3||Understanding Inflammation. Harvard Health Publishing.|
|↑4||Razack, Sakina, Kandikattu Hemanth Kumar, Ilaiyaraja Nallamuthu, Mahadeva Naika, and Farhath Khanum. “Antioxidant, Biomolecule Oxidation Protective Activities of Nardostachys jatamansi DC and Its Phytochemical Analysis by RP-HPLC and GC-MS.” Antioxidants 4, no. 1 (2015): 185-203.|
|↑5||Bae, Gi-Sang, Kwang-Ho Heo, Sun Bok Choi, Il-Joo Jo, Dong-Goo Kim, Joon-Yeon Shin, Seung-Hee Seo et al. “Beneficial effects of fractions of Nardostachys jatamansi on lipopolysaccharide-induced inflammatory response.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014 (2014).|
|↑6||Gottumukkala, Venkateswara Rao, Tiruganasambandham Annamalai, and Triptikumar Mukhopadhyay. “Phytochemical investigation and hair growth studies on the rhizomes of Nardostachys jatamansi DC.” Pharmacognosy magazine 7, no. 26 (2011): 146.|
|↑7||Insomnia. National Health Service.|
|↑8, ↑25||Prabhu, Vidya, K. Sudhakar Karanth, and Anjali Rao. “Effects of Nardostachys jatamansi on biogenic amines and inhibitory amino acids in the rat brain.” Planta medica 60, no. 02 (1994): 114-117.|
|↑9||Toolika, E., Narayana Prakash Bhat, and Suhas Kumar Shetty. “A comparative clinical study on the effect of Tagara (Valeriana wallichii DC.) and Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi DC.) in the management of Anidra (primary insomnia).” Ayu 36, no. 1 (2015): 46.|
|↑10||How to Fight Stress and Ward Off Illness.
|↑11||Lyle, Nazmun, Dipankar Bhattacharyya, Tapas K. Sur, Santanu Munshi, Suhrita Paul, Suparna Chatterjee, and Antony Gomes. “Stress modulating antioxidant effect of Nardostachys jatamansi.” (2009).|
|↑12||Ali, Shakir, Khursheed A. Ansari, M. A. Jafry, H. Kabeer, and G. Diwakar. “Nardostachys jatamansi protects against liver damage induced by thioacetamide in rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 71, no. 3 (2000): 359-363.|
|↑13||Joshi, Hanumanthachar, and Milind Parle. “Nardostachys jatamansi improves learning and memory in mice.” Journal of Medicinal Food 9, no. 1 (2006): 113-118.|
|↑14||Purnima, Bhatt M., and Preeti Kothiyal. “A review article on phytochemistry and pharmacological profiles of Nardostachys jatamansi DC-medicinal herb.” Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 3, no. 5 (2015): 102-106.|
|↑15||Mukherjee, Pulok K., Venkatesan Kumar, and Peter J. Houghton. “Screening of Indian medicinal plants for acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity.” Phytotherapy research 21, no. 12 (2007): 1142-1145.|
|↑16||Medications for Alzheimer’s disease.
|↑17||High Blood Pressure. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑18||Velpandian, V, N.Anbu, S.Elangovan, and M. Mohamed Musthafa. ” ANTIHYPERTENSIVE ACTIVITY OF Nardostachys jatamansi IN HYPERTENSIVE RATS FOLLOWING RENAL GOLD BLATT OCCLUSION METHOD.” World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research Volume 3, Issue no. 8 (2014).|
|↑19||Ashfaque, Mohd, Nisar Ahmad, Zaheda Begum, and Faizana Nasreen. “Evaluation of antihypertensive activity of Sumbul-ut-Tib (Nardostachys jatamansi) in adrenaline induced dog’s blood pressure.” Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 6, no. 1 (2017): 93-95.|
|↑20||Prasad, Ranjeeta, Rahul Dev Lawania, and Rajiv Gupta. “Role of herbs in the management of asthma.” Pharmacognosy Reviews 3, no. 6 (2009): 247.|
|↑21||Purushotham, K., and P. L. Basavanna. “Anticonvulsant profile of Nardostachys jatamansi roots in albino rats.” International Journal of Basic & Clinical Pharmacology 5, no. 3 (2016): 758-762.|
|↑22||Shreevathsa, M., B. Ravishankar, and Rambabu Dwivedi. “Anti depressant activity of Mamsyadi Kwatha: An Ayurvedic compound formulation.” Ayu 34, no. 1 (2013): 113.|
|↑23||Clinical Depression. National Health Service.|
|↑24||Dhingra, Dinesh, and Parveen Kumar Goyal. “Inhibition of MAO and GABA: probable mechanisms for antidepressant-like activity of Nardostachys jatamansi DC. in mice.” (2008).|
|↑26||Bae, Gi-Sang, Hee-Je Park, Do-Yun Kim, Je-Moon Song, Tae-Hyeon Kim, Hyo-Jeong Oh, Ki-Jung Yun et al. “Nardostachys jatamansi protects against cerulein-induced acute pancreatitis.” Pancreas 39, no. 4 (2010): 520-529.|
|↑27||Song, Mi-Young, Ui-Jin Bae, Bong-Hee Lee, Kang-Beom Kwon, Eun-A. Seo, Sung-Joo Park, Min-Sun Kim et al. “Nardostachys jatamansi extract protects against cytokine-induced β-cell damage and streptozotocin-induced diabetes.” World journal of gastroenterology: WJG 16, no. 26 (2010): 3249.|
|↑28||Chaudhary, Shilpee, Kodangala Subraya Chandrashekar, Karkala Sreedhara Ranganath Pai, Manganahalli Manjunath Setty, Raviraj Anand Devkar, Neetinkumar Dnyanoba Reddy, and Muhammed Haneefa Shoja. “Evaluation of antioxidant and anticancer activity of extract and fractions of Nardostachys jatamansi DC in breast carcinoma.” BMC complementary and alternative medicine 15, no. 1 (2015): 50.|