Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) is a herb for your mind. It increases the levels of the nerve-calming chemical GABA and happiness hormones like dopamine and serotonin, in effect improving your mood and anxiety. Since it also prevents the quick breakdown of acetylcholine, a memory-consolidating chemical, it could improve learning and memory. By nudging your GABA levels to elevate and making you less prone to react to external stimuli, jatamansi also helps you sleep better.
The roots and rhizome (horizontal underground stem) of the jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) plant are not as delicate as they appear. They are home to compounds that can calm your mind and defend your pancreas.
The compounds which seem to shine through are jatamansic acid, nardostachysin, nardal, and nardin.
Why It’s So Great
1. Promotes Mental Well-being
Everyday stress can get the best among us down. But what’s reassuring is that the body has everything you need to regain your emotional balance. It just needs a tiny push, nothing the fruits and herbs in your diet cannot give. Jatamansi is one such herb.
Jatamansi delves deep into the brain’s neural network to help you feel better at a molecular level.
- Levels up nerve-calming GABA
GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid) is a brain chemical that quietens your nerves and, in effect, your mind. It inhibits nerve cells from reacting to stimuli like a stressful situation.
But if you’ve been under stress for a while, your GABA level could go plummeting. It happens when tailor-made seats (GABA B autoreceptors) on presynaptic nerve cells inhibit the release of GABA by that cell – a kind of self-check.
Jatamansi can bring GABA back up by lifting the siege. It interacts with these receptors and allows the release of more GABA into the pool of brain chemicals. This just means you’ll be in a better mood!
- Increases happy chemicals:
Lifting your spirits even higher, the herb ensures there are more “happy” brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin floating around in your brain. It inhibits the enzyme monoamine oxidase that normally breaks up these chemicals. Give thanks to jatamansone.
- Improves cognition and memory:
As an added advantage, it improves learning and memory. This is because of new neural connections being formed as the chemical messenger acetylcholine scuttles its way from one brain cell to another. Similar to the sapodilla fruit, jatamansi also happens to inhibit the enzyme (acetylcholinesterase) that breaks up acetylcholine.
2. Induces Sleep
Have you noticed how easily you fall asleep after a vigorous exercise session? That’s because exercise increases your GABA level, stifling your reactions to stimuli. Jatamansi works in the exact same way; it too increases GABA. With a calmer state of mind, you will find it easier to fall asleep despite distractions galore.
Jatamansi seems to work like a charm in small amounts. So, there’s no need to overdo the herb. Have about 1–3 gm of powdered jatamansi (roots and/or rhizome) divided over the course of the day. To make it more palatable, mix it with honey, ghee, or water.