"[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 it 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.
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.
The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (updated edition): In skin care, spikenard is useful for inflammation, mature skin, rashes, and other skin issues. The oil may also help relieve insomnia, nervous indigestion, migraine, stress, and tension.
According to aromatherapist KG Stiles, spikenard essential oil 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.
375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols: Use spikenard in skin care products, for grounding, and for emotional needs.
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.
Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics, Volume 2: Psychologically, spikenard stabilizes the mind and promotes integration. The oil also promotes stability, strength, and cognitive flexibility. Physically, the essential oil relaxes hypertonic/tense and cools hot conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the essential function of spikenard is to nourish the Yin, descend the Yang, clear heat, and calm the Shen.
Subtle Aromatherapy: Spikenard intensifies devotional feelings toward a deity or spiritual teacher. The oil embodies the spirit of generosity.
The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing: Spiritually, spikenard reminds you to be receptive to your intuition and accept the part of yourself that can imagine a better way of life for all beings. The energy of the oil embodies compassion, inner peace, nurturing, and wisdom. The essential oil helps balance emotions.
Aromatherapy and Subtle Energy Techniques: Spikenard promotes a sense of heart-centered wholeness. Used with the seventh chakra, the oil promotes love and devotion for the divine.
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: 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 Commons