"[The] purpose [of spikenard] is to release the past from the shackles of our own making, those that relentlessly bind us to repeating actions that affect the freedom of of the spirit," writes aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood in Aromatherapy For the Soul.
She goes on to say the emotional benefits of spikenard essential oil (Nardostachys jatamansi) are to encourage forgiveness, fearlessness, calm, centering, balance, and resolution.
Spikenard is an herb that is a member of the Valerian family and is native to the western Himalaya mountains. In India, spikenard was used as a perfume, health-supporting herb, and skin tonic. The ancient Egyptians and Romans made an ointment containing spikenard. In the New Testament, Mary Magdalene used this type of ointment to anoint the feet of Christ at the Last Supper.
The availability of the essential oil is limited because of sustainability issues. You may want to know the source of any oil you buy and use the oil sparingly.
Plant family: Valerianaceae
Production: Steam distilled from the roots of the herb
Aroma: Heavy, woody, warm, sweet, earthy
Perfume/Aromatic note: Base
Is spikenard safe to use during pregnancy? Unknown. I found sources that say yes and others that say no. Seek professional advice.
Is spikenard essential oil safe for children? Yes.
Cautions: Patch test to make sure your skin is not sensitive to the oil. Do not confuse Nardostachys jatamansi with American spikenard (Aralia racemosa).
Source: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed.
Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art: Spikenard is useful for nervous indigestion, emotional tension, insomnia, headaches, scalp irritations, skin inflammation, rashes, and psoriasis. Although beneficial for all skin and hair types, the oil is especially good for dry and mature skin.
The Heart of Aromatherapy: Spikenard can help calm inflammation, support digestion, reduce nausea, and calm the nervous system. The oil is good for meditation and reflection and can leave you feeling relaxed and uplifted. Blend spikenard into a belly butter with orange, Roman Chamomile, and ginger.
Aromatherapy For Healing the Spirit: In Traditional Chinese Medicine "spikenard oil calms the Heart, stabilizes the Mind (Shen) and settles the emotions." It also regulates the flow of Liver-Qi and of general Qi-energy. The oil is useful for relieving nervous tension, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, constipation, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, eczema, psoriasis, and inflammation.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: Spikenard oil has soothing and calming effects that help relieve insomnia, menstrual problems, muscle spasm and contractions, physical tension, stress-related conditions, and anxiety. Also benefits aging skin.
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: Spikenard is useful for skin inflammation, mature skin, rashes, and other skin issues. Also helpful for insomnia, nervous indigestion, migraine, stress, and tension.
According to aromatherapist KG Stiles, spikenard is especially useful during onset of puberty and for menopausal issues in women. Stiles states the oil lifts the spirits and inspires the heart and mind to selfless acts of devotion and quiet inner peace.
Diffuse spikenard for meditation or to help you sleep. Be aware the oil is thick and may clog some diffusers.
Make a relaxing bath oil:
Add jojoba and essential oils to bottle. Close and shake gently to mix.
To use, add a small capful of the bath oil to running bathwater. Do not use with children under five.
Source: Aromahead Essential Living
Make a relaxing massage oil: Add 4 to 5 drops spikenard to 1 to 2 teaspoons carrier oil.
Image Credit: Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911) [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsHome › Essential Oils Guide › Spikenard Essential Oil