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Ayurvedic Herbs A-Z

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Ayurvedic Medicine





Latin Name

English Names

Sanskrit Names

Hindi Names

Nardostachys jatamansi DC. (Valerianaceae )

Musk Root, Indian Spikenard,
Indian Nard

Jatamansi, Bhutajata,

Jatamansi, Bal-chad



History  |  Habitat  |  Morphology Description (Habit)  |  Principal Constituents

 Indications  |   Product Range



It has been in use among the Indians as a perfume and medicine from ancient times. It is mentioned by Susruta in a prescription for epilepsy and is prescribed by Indian physicians as a nervine tonic, carminative and aromatic adjunct in the preparation of medicinal oils and ghees. N.jatamansi is the Nardin of Dioscorides, which the writer tells us, was also called Gangitis because the Ganges flowed from the foot of the mountains where the plant grew.
Arabic and Persian physicians call this plant Sumbul-i-Hindi, "Indian Spike", to distinguish it from their Sumbul-i-Rumi or Ikliti (Valeriana celtica), the root of which is used in Turkey and Egypt as a perfume.



It grows in the alpine Himalayas from Punjab to Sikkim and Bhutan, at altitudes of between 3,000 and 5,000 m.


Morphology Description (Habit)

N.jatamansi is an erect perennial herb, with a long, stout and woody rootstock. Its radical leaves are elongate and spathulate, its cauline leaves are sessile and oblong or sub-ovate; the flowers are rosy, pale pink or blue, in dense cymes. The drug consists of short, thick, dark grey rhizomes crowned with reddish brown tufted fibrous remains of the petioles of the radical leaves.


Principal Constituents

Jatamansone, Jatamanshic acid, Virolin and its diastereomer.

Essential oils 0.5%, jatamansone-, jatamansic acid, bitter principle.1


Traditionally the drug has been used as a herbal CNS drug in epilepsy, hysteria, and convulsions. The oil possesses antiarrhythmic activity with possible therapeutic usefulness in cases of auricular flutter.


Product Range



Parts Used:

Rhizome, rhizome oil. Each plant and part has a different therapeutic value and must be prepared in its own way for maximum benefits. Only found at high altitudes (from 10,000 to 17,000 feet) in India, Bhutan, and Sikkim.

Traditional Ayurvedic Uses:

Famous in Ayurveda as an herb to combat the effects of day-to-day stress. It has the property of enhancing the body's innate ability to sleep well.

It is considered a holy or "divine" plant in Ayurveda and has traditionally been used as an air purifier. Charaka's ayurvedic text recommends it highly for insomnia, mental instability and to enhance memory.

It is said to promote growth and maintain the color of hair.

NERVE: Hysteria, nervousness, epilepsy insomnia. It both cools and nourishes a 'hot' and 'exhausted' nervous system; clears pitta, calms vata, reduces kapha. Promotes intellect and mental clarity. Useful in headaches and 'foggy' head syndrome.

CARDIAC: Palpitations, essential hypertension2. When vata pushes pitta it causes it to rush in the channels especially aggravating the sites of pitta.

GIT: Digestive cramps, borborygmus, flatulence, bloatingvata constipation- dry/hard/gaseous stool3. Its aromatic nature 'dries' ama and kapha and helps to circulate samanavayu.

GYNAECOLOGY: Useful in dysmenorrhoea; dragging pain, ovarian discomfort, lower abdominal distention and pain.

LUNGS: Helpful in spasmodic cough, asthma, whooping cough- high vata lung problems.

HAIR: Traditional specific for hair loss and graying hair.4

SKIN: Ayurvedic recommendation for skin disorders- it acts via the nervous system; especially beneficial in itching and burning sensation.5.

Contraindications: Caution in pregnancy.

Ayurvedic Energetics
Rasa (taste): Bitter, Astringent, Sweet
Virya (action): Cooling
Vipaka (post-digestive effect): Pungent
Guna (quality): Light, Penetrating
Dosha effect: VPK=
Dhatu (tissue): Blood, Nerve
Srota (channel): Circulatory, Digestive, Nervous, Respiratory, Reproductive

Ayurvedic Action
Medhya- brain tonic, Rasayana- rejuvenative to mind Pachana- digestive, Kushtaghna- stops skin diseases and itching, Varnya- (Charaka, Sushruta, Bhavaprakasha) 

Combinations are Best

The experts at Ayurveda do not recommend the use of single herbs for self-care due to several important reasons:

  1. Single herbs often have unwanted effects over time, which can be canceled by herbs in proper combination.
  2. Herbs in combination are much more powerful.
  3. Good formulas address all co-factors to a health goal for much greater effectiveness.
  4. Expert combinations include herbs that increase assimilation and effective potency of the other ingredients.
  5. Herbs have different effects according to dose, and when mixed with other herbs.

1 Cited in Paranjape
2 Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha
3 Indian Medicinal Plants
4 Indian Medicinal Plants
5 Bhavaprakasha


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