The Benefits of Spikenard Essential Oil

Spikenard Essential Oil

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Spikenard essential oil is a substance used in aromatherapy. Sourced from Nardostachys jatamansi (a plant in the valerian family), this essential oil has a strong, earthy scent. Although it's primarily used as a fragrance ingredient, spikenard essential oil is also said to offer a number of health benefits.


Said to have a calming effect, spikenard essential oil is often used in alternative medicine to alleviate anxiety, stress, and insomnia. It's also said to help treat the following health problems:

In addition, spikenard essential oil is thought to help destroy bacteria and fungi. It's also purported to reduce inflammation.

Health Benefits

Although some preliminary research suggests that spikenard (a plant long used in herbal remedies in ayurvedic medicine) may have beneficial effects on health, there's currently a lack of scientific support for the use of spikenard essential oil. This preliminary research includes a 2006 study from the Journal of Medicinal Food, which found that spikenard extract helped improve memory in mice, as well as a 2009 study from the Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics, which found that spikenard extract helped reduce stress in rats.

While these studies indicate that spikenard shows promise in the treatment of certain health conditions, it's important to note that neither study tested the effects of spikenard essential oil.

How to Use It

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), spikenard essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths. Like nearly all essential oils, spikenard may be harmful when applied to the skin without diluting the oil first.

You can also sprinkle a few drops of spikenard essential oil onto a cloth or tissue and breathe in its scent, or add the oil to an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.

Spikenard essential oil is said to blend well with a variety of essential oils, including clove, frankincense, geranium, lavender, lemon, myrrh, neroli, patchouli, and rose.


Due to the lack of studies testing the health effects of spikenard essential oil, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of this remedy. However, there's some concern that use of spikenard essential oil may be harmful to pregnant or breastfeeding women, as well as to people with epilepsy.

While essential oils may aid in the treatment of certain health problems, using spikenard essential oil as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of chronic conditions may have serious consequences.

Essential oils can be toxic when taken internally so they should only be taken orally under the guidance of a qualified professional.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation when applying spikenard essential oil to the skin. A skin patch test should be done before using any new essential oil.

The oil should not be applied at full-strength to the skin or used in excessive amounts.


Valerian, a plant in the same family as spikenard, produces an essential oil that's often used to help promote sleep and soothe stress. While evidence for the health effects of valerian essential oil is limited, several studies suggest that the use of dietary supplements containing valerian extract may help ease insomnia and anxiety.

Another essential oil said to possess sedative properties, lavender essential oil may help you sleep more soundly. And for help in taming anxiety, consider using essential oils of rose and/or bergamot.

Where to Find It

Sold in some natural-foods stores and other stores specializing in natural products, spikenard essential oil is also available for purchase online.

Using It for Health

It's too soon to recommend spikenard essential oil as a treatment for any health condition, due to the limited research. If you're considering using it, make sure to talk with your doctor first. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

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Article Sources
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  2. Han X, Beaumont C, Stevens N. Chemical composition analysis and biological activities of ten essential oils in human skin cells. Biochim Open. 2017;5:1-7. doi:10.1016/j.biopen.2017.04.001

  3. doTERRA. Spikenard oil uses and benefits.

  4. Poison Control. Essential oils: poisonous when misused.

  5. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Valerian. Updated March 15, 2013.

  6. Barati F, Nasiri A, Akbari N, Sharifzadeh G. The effect of aromatherapy on anxiety in patients. Nephrourol Mon. 2016;8(5):e38347. doi:10.5812/numonthly.38347

Additional Reading
  • de Almeida RN, Motta SC, de Brito Faturi C, Catallani B, Leite JR. "Anxiolytic-like effects of rose oil inhalation on the elevated plus-maze test in rats." Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2004 77(2):361-4.
  • Joshi H, Parle M. "Nardostachys jatamansi improves learning and memory in mice." J Med Food. 2006 Spring;9(1):113-8.
  • Karkada G, Shenoy KB, Halahalli H, Karanth KS. "Nardostachys jatamansi extract prevents chronic restraint stress-induced learning and memory deficits in a radial arm maze task." J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2012 Jul;3(2):125-32.
  • Lee IS, Lee GJ. "Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students." Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006 Feb;36(1):136-43.
  • Lyle N, Bhattacharyya D, Sur TK, Munshi S, Paul S, Chatterjee S, Gomes A. "Stress modulating antioxidant effect of Nardostachys jatamansi." Indian J Biochem Biophys. 2009 Feb;46(1):93-8.
  • Saiyudthong S, Marsden CA. "Acute effects of bergamot oil on anxiety-related behaviour and corticosterone level in rats." Phytother Res. 2011 Jun;25(6):858-62.