Spikenard Root (Aralia racemosa)


Spikenard Root, also known as the “Life of Man”, has similarities to ginseng.

Botanical Name Family Araliaceae Aralia racemosa

Common Names Indian Root, Life of Man, Old Man’s Root, Pettymorell, Spignet

Native to North America, the plant grows from central Canada southward to Virginia. The herb is an aromatic perennial bush, growing to six feet producing thick, fleshy roots, large leathery leaves, small greenish-white flowers, and red or purple berries. The root is unearthed in summer or autumn and chopped while fresh and dried or processed immediately to form a thick paste.

Native Americans have used Spikenard internally to treat backache and topically to treat bruises, wounds, swellings, and other skin inflammations. Because of their wide usage of the plant, it was soon dubbed the “Indian Root.” The Cherokee and New World settlers made a tea for backaches. The Shawnee used it for flatulence, coughs, asthma, and breast pain. The Menominee used it as a cure for blood poisoning. The plant was included in the US National Formulary from 1916 to 1965. Key Actions

  • diaphoretic
  • expectorant
  • stimulates tissue renewal

Key Components

  • volatile oil
  • tannins
  • diterpene acids