Spikenard Buyer Beware

March 8th, 2012 by Meg Shehad

At Gritman, we always want to provide the best. Recently we got in a shipment of Spikenard Essential Oil and found that it was the wrong color. We sent it back and sure enough when it was tested, it was shown to be adulterated. We contacted another supplier that we have much confidence and they sent us oil with the same color. This is telling us that Spikenard has been adulterated on the world market, and it is buyer beware!

What is the right color for Spikenard? Blue to a blue green in color  is considered ideal. It often is green when it reaches most and that is the most common color associated with Spikenard. Since it starts as blue the green that it turns into should be of a blue quality. The oil that was sent to us was a yellow green that will turn into an orange and then a red or amber. Go out onto the web and see how many vendors do not know the difference. Many are selling Spikenard as amber or red colored oil. Vendors trusting their sources do not know the difference, and they honestly pass it on to their customers. Consumers will buy it not knowing the difference. There is so much misguided information on the web that it is often hard to know what is the truth.

If this yellow green oil is not Spikenard, then what is it? This oil is made from patchouli. Spikenard has patchouol in it naturally which is also found in patchouli. Those that want to stretch Spikenard will use patchouli. It goes undetected and even makes the oil smell stronger, but the color is changed.  Many of the properties in Spikenard are also found in Patchouli. Some suppliers will not use real spikenard and start with patchouli and go from there to attempt to match the Spikenard profile. This is called a reconstituted oil. It should not be sold as  real Spikenard but it sometimes is. Why use Spikenard if Patchouli is so similar?

Spikenard is special. It is one of the most important Biblical oils. Spikenard is consider Nard in the Bible, although some believe that this could have been lavender. In John, 12:1–10, six days before the passover Jesus arrives in Bethany. In Bethany, a woman called Mary perhaps the sister of Lazarus uses a pound of pure nard to rub onto Jesus’ feet.  Patchouli cannot replace Spikenard no matter how similar they may be. Many Biblical blenders love to use Spikenard especially when there is need to purify and elevate. This is probably why it was used with Jesus. On an emotional level it is used to help people find themselves. It will help them answer the question, “Why was I born?” We all have a mission or divine purpose in life and Spikenard helps you to identity yourself. Spikenard speaks to “I was lost and now I am found.”

In Aromatherapy Spikenard is used much like Patchouli in the treatment of allergic skin reactions, rashes, and infections to disinfect, calm, heal, and soothe. Like patchouli it is used to sedate and help cases of  insomnia. Because it is so soothing it is used to treat tension headaches and stress.  Spikenard is particularly helpful in hospice or end of life care. It allows the person to relax and let go. It will soothe out the breathe and allow a person to make an easy transition. Valerian is also used this way. Spikenard is in the Valerian family. Spikenard may also be used with dogs and horses as they transition.

In perfume, Spikenard is used for its deep rich, mellow, spicy aroma that is woody, earthy and at the same time sweet. Being a complex and heavy scent it is primarily used as a fixative. In Meditative blends, it can take on a high proportion of the blend. Spikenard can also be found in purity blends especially for those dispelling dark or negative energy.

Spikenard is a very special oil. It tends to be costly. It is important to be informed so that you can make the best choice.

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6 Responses to “Spikenard Buyer Beware”

  1. Comment by Erin

    Hi Meg,

    I want to thank you for your article. I was a new purchaser of Spikenard and i went to find what i thought was the best out there. I purchased a large quantity as I had been using a blend previously and thought i’d blend my own.

    When I received it it smelled putrid. There wasn’t the complexity and it smelled like wet dirt…not as deep and definitely NOT any hint of sweetness.

    I’ve contacted the dealer that I purchased from, although I cannot return it now :(.

    Do you know of a place with ‘good’batches?

  2. Comment by Meg Shehad

    Why can’t you return the oil? If is not what you ordered then they should take it back. Is the color golden or amber?
    How much spikenard do you need? Gritman can help you get real Spikenard. Spikenard should be blue or green in color and it can have a very earthy or dirt scent with a heavy sweetness.

  3. Comment by Marguerite Johnson

    Everything I have read about spikenard refers to the oil. I have a container of spikenard resin, which looks like a powder. How should I use this? Can I mix it with oil as you direct in your very detaile description ?
    The product I have is “Song of India Resin Spikenard”. There are no instructions, except for a vague mention of burning over charcoal. This is not recommended as indoor use!
    Please can you help me?

  4. Comment by Lou

    Essential oils are oil soluble and it stands to reason that fats are the best medium to absorb essential oils. We make macerations following these principles, but resins are a bit different. Resins are not just essential oils as other medicinal plant medicines are also available. This brings a solubility issue. The other plant medicine that is available is not always fat soluble. In this case, we use a high grade alcohol such as EverClear and use it as the solvent. It will dissolve some of the essential oils and some of the other available plant medicine. If you have not powered the resin, you must do so before using the alcohol. Once you have the resin powdered and we use a spice grinder devoted to grinding resins for this purpose. Take the powder and put it in a glass jar. Add alcohol to cover and let it sit for at least two weeks. When the resin looks like syrup, it is ready. This is messy and needs ample amounts of alcohol to clean up after yourself. This is making an absolute from a resin and would not be called an essential oil but the absolute of spikenard. The resin you are mentioning here may not be pure but an incense and many incense makers use synthetics. You will have to ask the supplier and your nose can often tell you if there are synthetics present.

  5. Comment by Jewel

    Where can I get spikenard resin or pure spikenard oil

  6. Comment by Meg Shehad

    Jewel, that has become a problem for us too. You must look for a blue to green color. Some old spikenard is on the market but it is brown and you do not want that. There is all the reconstituted spikenard made from patchouli that is just swamping the market right now. Holding out for the good stuff as it is really worth the wait. A new distillation will be ready soon or so we hope.