What is Spikenard Oil?

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  • Written By: Sara Schmidt
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A home herbal remedy, spikenard oil is a compound made from the flowering spikenard plant of China. It has been used since ancient times as part of the Ayurvedic healing practices of India. It is used as a healing component, both in medicine as well as religious traditions.

Spikenard oil is also known as nard, nardin, muskroot or false Indian valerian root. A luxury oil in ancient Egypt, Rome, and the Near East, it is a strong scented, brownish-yelow essential oil. Thick and earthy, it is often used as an incense, a perfume, and a sedative. Used in cuisine, spikenard provides flavor for spicy and sweet beverages and foods, such as the traditional Medieval European wine, Hypocras.

Medically, the oil has been used to treat birthing problems, insomnia, migraines, skin rash, dandruff, wrinkles, and minor wounds. Known as a healing oil throughout India and China, spikenard oil can be used as a diuretic, a treatment for skin allergies, and a menstrual cycle symptom aid as well. The herbal oil is also contains useful anti-fungal properties. It may also be effective in treating indigestion, stress, and body tension.


As an aromatherapy oil, nard is used to alleviate deep pain and grief. People also use it to aid in the transition from life to death for elderly, and for incurable, or suffering patients. The herbal remedy is also known as a calming oil in general. Cosmetically, the oil is considered valuable in restoring mature skin.

Considered a relatively safe oil, spikenard oil should still be used under the supervision of a health care provider. Patients with epilepsy and women who are nursing or pregnant should avoid the oil. It can be used as a massage oil, in vapor form, or added to a bath. It can be used together with several different other herbal oils, including Clary sage, lavender, vetiver, lemon, patchouli, and neroli.

Nard has a rich history, including use in Greek mythology, the Christian Old Testament, and Islamic traditions. The bodies of Christ, Patrokolos of the Iliad, and other major historical characters were said to have been anointed by the herb. Some consider the spikenard root to be the forbidden fruit from the garden of Eden.

The official name for that plant from which spikenard oil is produced from is Nardostachys jatamansi or Nardostachys grandiflora. Native to the Himalayas of China, Nepal, Japan, and India, it is a small plant, only growing up to three feet (one meter) in height. The herb features pink bell-shaped flowers; the oil itself, however, is made from the crushed and distilled underground stems, or rhizomes, of the plant.


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