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Scientific Name(s): Nardostachys jatamansi DC.
Common Name(s): Balchar, Indian spikenard, Jatamansi, Muskroot, Nardostahyos Radix et Rhizoma, Sambul lateeb, Spikenard, Sumbul-ut-teeb

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 1, 2022.

Clinical Overview


N. jatamansi has been used in the traditional Ayurvedic (Indian) and Unani (ancient Greco-Arab) medical systems. The scientific literature contains primarily phytochemical and animal studies of N. jatamansi's activity on the nervous system and the cardiovascular system. Clinical trial data are lacking to recommend use for any indication.


Hypertension: In a small 4-week study, an N. jatamansi dosage of 3 g/day (ie, one 1 g capsule 3 times a day) was used to evaluate potential blood pressure–lowering effects in patients with hypertension.

Insomnia: N. jatamansi powdered rhizome at a dose of 4 g with milk 3 times a day after food for 1 month was used in a small study evaluating effects on primary insomnia.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

None well documented. Avoid use in individuals with known hypersensitivity reactions to N. jatamansi.


No data.

Scientific Family

  • Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle)
  • Valerianaceae (valerian)


N. jatamansi, native to the Alpine Himalayas, is a critically endangered, rhizome-bearing plant that grows best at high altitudes (3,000 to 5,000 m).(Airi 2000) The Nardostachys genus has 4 to 5 stamens. The calyx consists of 5 well-developed lanceolate or dentate lobes that continue to grow during maturation of the fruit.(Weberling 1975) The N. jatamansi plant is approximately 10 to 60 cm in height with stout, long woody root stocks. The rhizomes are 2.5 to 7.5 cm in length, are elongated and cylindrical in shape, and dark grey in color with reddish-brown tufted fibers. The radical leaves are elongated and spathulated; some cauline leaves are sessile, oblong, or subovate. The pale pink or blue flowers appear in dense cymes.(Bhat 2017) A synonym is Nardostachys chinensis Batalin. N. jatamansi should not be confused with Valeriana jatamansi.


N. jatamansi has been used for centuries in the traditional Ayurvedic (Indian) and Unani (ancient Greco-Arab) medical systems. The rhizomes have been used in the Ayurvedic system as a bitter tonic, diuretic, stimulant, and antispasmodic, as well as to treat hysteria, convulsions, and epilepsy. Other Ayurvedic applications of the root extract have included treatment of kidney stones, jaundice, nervous convulsive conditions, heart palpitations, headache, flatulence, respiratory and digestive diseases, skin diseases, gastric disorders, and seminal debility, and for removal of blood impurities.(Gowda 2013, Karkada 2012, Pandey 2013) In the Unani medical system, deobstruent, exhilarant, cardioprotective, neuroprotective, hepatoprotective, anticonvulsant, antiparkinsonism, antioxidant, sedative, antihypertensive, antidepressant, and antidiabetic activities of N. jatamansi (eg, extracts) have been described.(Bhat 2020) In various countries, N. jatamansi has traditionally been used to treat insomnia and blood, circulatory, and mental disorders.(Bhat 2020, Etebari 2012)


The rhizomes and roots of N. jatamansi plant have been the focus of chemical studies. They contain a variety of sesquiterpenes and coumarins. The sedative sesquiterpene valeranone, which is also found in valerian and other plants, is a major component of the root essential oil, at least in some samples.(Hoerster 1977) Nardosinone is the main active ingredient of N. jatamansi.(Wen 2021) Desoxo-narchinol A and nardosinonediol are major bioactive compounds belonging to the sesquiterpene group.(Le 2018) Other terpenoids include spirojatamol,(Bagchi 1990) nardostachysin,(Chatterjee 2000) jatamols A and B,(Bagchi 1991) and calarenol.(Sastry 1967) Six kanshone C–derived sesquiterpenoid hybrids nardochalaristolones A through D, nardoflavaristolone A, and dinardokanshone F were also isolated from N. jatamansi.(Deng 2018) Coumarins include jatamansin.(Shanbhag 1964) 8-Hydroxypinoresinol, which belongs to a class of organic compounds known as furanoid lignans, has also been isolated from N. jatamansi.(Choi 2019)

Uses and Pharmacology

Antifungal effects

In vitro data

N. jatamansi essential oil demonstrated fungistatic activity against Aspergillus flavus, Aspergillus niger, and Fusarium oxysporum.(Mishra 1995, Sarbhoy 1978)

Anti-inflammatory effects

Animal and in vitro data

Several studies by the same group of researchers reported anti-inflammatory properties of N. jatamansi extracts in vitro and in rodents with induced pancreatitis.(Bae 2012a, Bae 2012b, Bae 2012c, Bae 2013, Bae 2014, Shin 2015) Effects on mediators of inflammation, as well as reductions in secretion of digestive enzymes and cytokine production, have been demonstrated.(Bae 2012b)

N. jatamansi contains various types of sesquiterpenoids, some of which showed antineuroinflammatory effects in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV2 microglial cells through inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B signaling pathways.(Yoon 2018) In another study, nardosinone-type sesquiterpenes from the hexane fraction of N. jatamansi attenuated nuclear factor kappa B and mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated BV2 microglial cells. Findings suggests a potential role for these sesquiterpenes in the treatment of neuroinflammation conditions.(Ko 2018) Desoxo-narchinol A and narchinol B isolated from N. jatamansi also exerted antineuroinflammatory effects by upregulating nuclear transcription factor erythroid-2–related factor 2/heme oxygenase-1 signaling; findings suggest that desoxo-narchinol A and narchinol B are potential candidates for the development of preventive agents for regulation of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases.(Kim 2019)

Antioxidant effects

Animal and in vitro data

Extracts of N. jatamansi have shown antioxidant activity in in vitro and rodent studies.(Chaudhary 2015, Dhuna 2013, Pandey 2013, Razack 2015, Sharma 2012, Singh 2015)

Blood pressure–lowering effects

Clinical data

A single-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study was conducted in patients 35 to 70 years of age (N=40) with stage 1 hypertension who were using fewer than 2 antihypertensive drugs. Patients received either N. jatamansi 3 g/day (ie, one 1 g capsule 3 times a day) or placebo for 4 weeks. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure were recorded at baseline and every week for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks of treatment, there was a statistically significant reduction in the N. jatamansi group in average systolic blood pressure (from 144.2±11.35 mm Hg [95% CI, 138.89 to 149.51] at baseline to 134.3±10.08 mm Hg [95% CI, 129.58 to 139.02] after treatment; P<0.001) and diastolic blood pressure (from 94.9±3.4 mm Hg [95% CI, 93.3 to 96.49] to 83.1±5.29 mm Hg [95% CI, 80.62 to 85.57]; P<0.001). In the placebo group, there were no significant decreases in systolic blood pressure (143.4±8.39 mm Hg [95% CI, 139.47 to 147.33] at baseline to 142±11.68 mm Hg [95% CI, 136.53 to 147.47] after treatment; P=0.148) or diastolic blood pressure (from 95.1±3.7 mm Hg [95% CI, 93.37 to 96.83] to 94.8±3.69 mm Hg [95% CI, 93.07 to 96.52]; P=0.186). A comparison between baseline and posttreatment MINICHAL score showed a significant reduction in the N. jatamansi group (from 10.85±1.27 [95% CI, 10.25 to 11.44] to 6.2±1.77 [95% CI, 5.37 to 7.02]; P<0.001) compared with no significant difference in the placebo group (11.05±1.5 [95% CI, 10.34 to 11.75] to 10.85±1.26 [95% CI, 10.25 to 11.44]; P=0.103). These findings suggest that N. jatamansi may be effective in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in essential hypertension.(Bhat 2020)


Animal and in vitro data

Some studies have demonstrated activity against cancer cell lines(Chaudhary 2015, Dhuna 2013, Kapoor 2017) and protective effects from radiation-induced damage.(Gowda 2013, Madhu 2012)

Cardiac effects

Animal and in vitro data

In vitro studies using cardiac tissue showed vascular dilatation, mediated via influencing nitric oxide production, with the volatile oil of N. jatamansi rhizome.(Maiwulanjiang 2014) In in vivo rodent models, N. jatamansi protected cardiac tissues against oxidative stress–induced cell injury and lipid peroxidation, as well as against inflammatory and apoptotic effects.(Singh 2020)

CNS activity

Animal and in vitro data

Results of a serotonin transporter (SERT) activity assay revealed that nardochalaristolones C through D (3 and 4) and nardoflavaristolone A (5 and 6) isolated from the underground parts of N. jatamansi significantly enhanced SERT activity.(Deng 2018) Both the total extract and the selected water-soluble fraction of N. jatamansi have shown antidepressant potential in vitro and in vivo.(Li 2021)

The sedative sesquiterpene valeranone prolonged barbiturate anesthesia, impaired rotarod performance, inhibited electroshock convulsions, and potentiated the hypothermic effects of reserpine.(Rücker 1978) Limited results from behavioral tests revealed that an N. jatamansi extract had significant antidepressant activity.(Metkar 1999)

N. jatamansi ethanol extracts ameliorated beta-amyloid 42 cytotoxicity in vitro using a cell culture system and in vivo using a Drosophila Alzheimer disease model. Significant improvements in vivo in locomotor activity, learning/memory, eye degeneration, oxidative stress, and beta-amyloid 42 protein were reported (P<0.01 each). Findings suggest N. jatamansi might have a role in the development of Alzheimer disease treatment.(Anupama 2022, Liu 2018)

In rat brain, 15-day treatment with an alcoholic root extract of N. jatamansi caused an overall increase in levels of central monoamines and inhibitory amino acids, including a change in levels of serotonin, 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and taurine.(Prabhu 1994) It has been suggested that the anxiolytic effects of N. jatamansi are primarily and plausibly mediated by activating the GABAergic receptor complex.(Razack 2018)

Pretreatment with 250 mg/kg of an N. jatamansi alcoholic extract for 15 days protected rats against focal ischemia caused by middle cerebral artery occlusion. The protective effect may be associated with improved glutathione content, inhibition of lipid peroxidation, and activity on the Na+/K+ ATPase and catalase enzyme systems.(Salim 2003)

Clinical data

A small study (N=34) reported positive findings for N. jatamansi in the management of primary insomnia. The powdered rhizome was given at a dose of 4 g with milk 3 times a day after food for 1 month. The comparator natural product, Valeriana wallichii, also showed positive effects on sleep induction, sleep duration, and other parameters.(Toolika 2015)

Hepatic effects

Animal data

In rats pretreated with an alcoholic extract of N. jatamansi dosed at 800 mg/kg for 3 days, hepatoprotective action was observed against thioacetamide-induced liver damage. Rats pretreated with the extract also had reduced levels of serum transaminases (ALT and AST) and alkaline phosphatase.(Ali 2000)


Animal data

In in vivo experiments, 8 alpha-hydroxypinoresinol exerted a therapeutic effect on pancreatitis in mice; these beneficial effects may be due to the inhibition of nuclear factor kappa B activation.(Choi 2019)



In a small 4-week study, an N. jatamansi dosage of 3 g/day (ie, one 1 g capsule 3 times a day) was used to evaluate potential blood pressure–lowering effects in patients with hypertension.(Bhat 2020)


N. jatamansi powdered rhizome at a dose of 4 g with milk 3 times a day after food for 1 month was used in a small study evaluating effects on primary insomnia.(Toolika 2015)

Pregnancy / Lactation

Avoid use. Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

None well documented. Avoid use in individuals with known hypersensitivity reactions to N. jatamansi.


A study reports genotoxicity of an aqueous and hydroalcoholic extract of N. jatamansi rhizome at concentrations of 5 mg/mL and 10 mg/mL.(Etebari 2012)

Index Terms

  • Nardostachys chinensis Batalin



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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Anupama KP, Shilpa O, Antony A, Raghu SV, Gurushankara HP. Jatamansinol from Nardostachys jatamansi (D.Don) DC. protects Aβ42-induced neurotoxicity in Alzheimer's disease drosophila model. Neurotoxicology. 2022;90:62-78. doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2022.02.01135247505
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