Native from the “Seat of the gods”, the Himalayas, Spikenard, since thousands of years, is one of the most sacred essences known both for its spiritual and medicinal properties.
With its Latin name Nardostachys jatamansi, the plant is native to the humid Himalaya regions and grows in the wild of Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim in mountain regions up to 3000-5000 m. Other varieties are also found in China and Japan.
The name «Jatamansi» means «Bestower of Life» in Sanskrit and indicates how much this wonderful medicinal plant and its essential oil has been appreciated in the Ayurvedic ethnobotanical pharmacopeia of ancient India. Being related to Valerian it belongs to the Valerianaceae plant family and resembles to some degree the Indian Valerian in fragrance and effect. Spikenard is a perennial herb with a strong wooden root and a long shoot of 10-60 cm.
The essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of the crushed and dried roots of the herb. 100kg of the plant yield 1 liter of the essential oil. The main chemical ingredients are bornylacetate, valeranone, jonon, tetramenthyloxatriccylodecanol, menthylthymyl-ether and 1,8-cineol. The fragrance can be described as aromatic, earthy and spicy connected with a warm note. It blends well with Lavender, Lemon, Clary sage, Neroli, Patschouli and Vetiver.
A plant known as sacred for ancient times
In antiquity, already since the epoch of Hammurabi (2000 BC), Spikenard was regarded as sacred and used for rituals as described in the Songs of Solomon, being reserved for kings and priests or initiates only. In the New Testament we learn about the anointment of Jesus by Mary of Bethany before the Last Supper. It was an ancient custom to honour eminent guests by anointing their head and feet with Spikenard bearing witness of the high esteem the essential oil was held within those cultures. The fragrance was applied to relieve of fear and anxieties and preparing the body for burial. The value of the precious oil could be compared with the annual income of an average person at that time. Later it was also used as a valuable component in products for beauty care and in perfumes in connection with other flower scents by wealthy women in Ancient Egypt and Rome for example. The old trade routes made the essential oil available to the different countries of those days’ world.
Experiences and research on Spikenard show evidence of anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antipyretic, calmative, sedative, laxative and tonic therapeutic properties. Essential oils consist of very small molecules granting healing powers to the deepest levels of our physical bodies and our consciousness as a whole. By virtue of their structural complexity and elaborated nature these substances with their volatile character are suited to fulfil manifold functions by just inhaling their fragrance or apply the essential oil to the skin.
The essential oil of Spikenard also reveals antispasmodic effects, it has strong healing effects in case of epilepsy and is able to slow down the hear beat, strengthen the heart, compensate arrhythmia and regulate circulatory conditions meaning it has anti-hypertensive capabilities especially when combined with the essential oil of Ylang Ylang. Moreover, it balances the hormonal system and helps with stomach disorders. Spikenard unfolds soothing qualities within the nervous system resembling, but more profound, then valeria. Therefore also those suffering from insomnia may find relief. Furthermore all organs, including the digestive tract, get balanced through the herb’s activity and healing powers.
Kurt Schnaubelt, in Advanced Aromatherapy writes of Spikenard: “The external application of the oil, rubbed over the heart or the solar plexus, provides the desired sedative effect. This oil has a distinct affinity for the skin, and is one of the few oils which has any effect against dandruff.”
A balancing and calming plant
Spikenard is gifted with calming and soothing properties particularly on the psychological level. It is able to stabilize the nervous system and to regenerate the mind after extreme exhaustion. It is a great choice in case inner steadfastness is required.
This spiritual oil is able to create interaction between the physical and the psychological aspect of man which make it a prime choice to reach deeper levels of consciousness during meditation.
It is a perfect oil to find balance in our life and in our spiritual path as the root aspect of the plant helps us to keep our feet anchored to the ground whereas the scent uplifts the soul to return to its divine source.
Relaxing bath for grounding
Lydia Bosson in her book L’Aromathérapie Énergétique (Energetic Aromatherapy) gives us this recipe for those who are feeling ungrounded and anxious:
Take a hot bath where you add a cup of milk, a tea spoon of honey and 5 to 8 drops of Spikenard essential oil. You will instantly feel the calming and both grounding and uplifting effect of this sacred oil.
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