Scientific Name Nardostachys grandiflora DC. (=N. jatamansi DC.) Family Valerianaceae Used Part Rhizome Distribution Area Found in the alpine Himalayas from Punjab to Sikkim and Bhutan, at altitudes of 3,000-5,000 m. Common Uses . The roots are acrid, bitter with a flour; flattening, tonic cooling, antipyretic, alexipharmic,cure tridosha, kapha and biliousness, dieseases of the blood, burning sensation, erysipelas, leprosy,skin diseases, throat troubles, ulcers, improve the complexion. Traditionally the drug has been used as a herbal CNS drug in epilepsy, hysteria, and convulsions. It is a component of the Ayurvedic anti-epileptic drug `Ayush-56'. In Ayurveda, the drug is beleived to increase intellect/memory, remove evil spirits and oedema, and give strength besides many other uses. The drug has been standardized. In India and China, the root of jatamansi is used for intestinal colic, as an antispasmodic, diuretic, emmanagogue, carminative, stomachic, laxative, and in hysteria and cholera. A decoction of the powdered roots is prescribed as home remedy for high blood pressure. The rhizomes and roots significantly effect amylase activity. The root is also used in perfumery. The rhizome is considered tonic, stimulant, anti-spasmodic, diuretic, deobstruent, emmenagogue, stomachic and laxative. An infusion of the rhizome is reported to be useful in epilepsy, hysteria, palpitation of heart and chorea. A tincture of it is given in intestinal colic and flatulence. The rhizome is used as an aromatic adjunct in the preparation of medicinal oils; it is reported to promote the growth of hair and also impart blackness. Similar crude drugs Jatamansi has an agreeable odour with a bitter aromatic taste and is used as a substitute for valerian (Valeriana officinalis Linn.). Pharmacological Effect The oil potentiated phenobarbital narcosis in rats, reduced rat brain serotonin content and decreased the conditioned avoidance performance in cats. The active principle jatamansone was shown to exert tranquilizing activity in mice and monkeys. In rabbits, jatamansone was found to impair biosynthesis of serotonin in the brain leading to a reduction in brain level of 5-hydroxytryptamine. The degradation of serotonin was unaffected.The mode of action of jatamansone was thus at variance with that of reserpine which has direct action on the cell to liberate serotonin.In a clinical trial on hyperkinetic children jatamansone showed significant reduction in hyperactivity and improvement in restlessness and aggressiveness, almost at par with D-amphetamine. Jatamansi enters into the composition of a compound herbal formulation-BR-16A (Mentat) which has been found to facilitate hearing and memory and has been classified as a nootropic agent like piracetam. The basis of nootropic activity may be through improvement in blood circulation and brain metabolism. Mentat was tested for behavioural effects such as anxiolytic anti- depressant and anti-agression activities in experimental animals. It was found to be an effective adjuvant in the treatment of anxiety and depression produced due to impoverished nutrition, or ethanol-withdrawal, etc. The possibility of using mentat as a safe, herbal, psychotropic preparation in the management of alcohol withdrawal-induced reactions, is suggested. Clinical trials with mentat on epileptics revealed that it serves as a valuable adjuvant to commonly used anti-epileptic drugs bringing about significant reduction in seizure frequency, with no side- effects. Spikenard oil possesses antiarrhythmic activity with possible therapeutical usefulness in cases of auricular flutter; it is less effective than quinidine, but has the advantage of being less toxic. Jatamansone is more potent than the oil and is also more active than quinidine in ventricular tachycardia resulting from acute myocardial infarction; in experimentally induced arrhythmias it is as effective as quinidine except in the acetylcholine induced auricular fibrillation, in which it is considerably weaker. Jatamansone possesses anticonvulsant action as well. The oil exerts a hypotensive effect and in moderate doses it has a distinct depressant action on the central nervous system; lethal doses cause deep narcosis and ultimately death within a few hours. The root extracts show sedative properties Others The rhizome in combination with other drugs is prescirbed in snake bite and scorpion sting.