The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

American Spikenard

Scientific Names

American Spikenard

  • Aralia racemosa L.
  • Araliaceae
  • Ginseng family

Common Names

  • Indian aralia bark
  • Indian root
  • Indian spikenard
  • Life of man
  • Nard
  • Old man’s root
  • Petty morrel
  • Spignet
  • Spikenard
  • Wild licorice

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Parts Usually Used

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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

American spikenard is a perennial, herbaceous plant, 3-5 feet tall; its thick, fleshy rootstock features long, thick roots and produces one or more branched stems growing up to 6 feet high. Stems are smooth, dark green or reddish. The leaves are alternate and usually ternate, 6-21 toothed, pointed leaves, weakly heart-shaped, with doubly serrate margins. Its tiny, greenish-white flowers grow in panicled umbels during July and August. The dark purple berries are pleasantly flavored and can be made into jelly.

Other varieties: A. californica; A. nudicaulis; A. quinquefolia

The Chinese have a plant they label spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi). A decoction of this plant is used for skin diseases and a bath to give fragrance to the body.
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Where Found

Found in rich woodlands in eastern North America, as far south as Georgia and west to South Dakota and Missouri.
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Medicinal Properties

Diuretic, expectorant, carminative, alterative, stimulant, diaphoretic
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Biochemical Information

Essential oil, tannins, saponin, spogenins, diterpene acids
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Used for pulmonary diseases, digestive weakness, gynecological problems, blood purification, hay fever, diarrhea, colds, bronchitis, sore throat, fever, venereal disease, rheumatic aches and pains, asthma, coughs. Externally, used for skin diseases and hemorrhoids. Taking the tea for some time before labor is said to make childbirth easier and shortens the labor. Native Americans used the root for wounds, boils, acne, pimples, blackheads, rashes, swellings, bruises, inflammations, and chest pains. For the external use, the root was pounded and made into a poultice or dressing. Favoring for liqueurs and cordials.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 to 2 tsp. powdered rootstock and roots in 1 cup water. Take 1/2 to 1 cups a day in small doses.
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Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

Buy It! Chinese Medicinal Herbs, compiled by Shih-Chen Li, Georgetown Press, San Francisco, California, 1973.

Buy It! Culpeper’s Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature’s Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

Buy It! A Useful Guide to Herbal Health Care, HCBL (Health Center for Better Living).,1414 Rosemary Lane, Naples, FL 34103., Special Sale Catalog, 1996

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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