Chrysopogon zizanioides, commonly known as vetiver (derived from the Tamil: வெட்டிவேர் věţţivēr) is a perennial bunchgrass of the Poaceae family, native to India. In western and northern India, it is popularly known as khus.
Vetiver is most closely related to Sorghum but shares many morphological characteristics with other fragrant grasses, such as lemongrass(Cymbopogon citratus), citronella (Cymbopogon nardus, C. winterianus), and palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii).
Vetiver is a tall (1.5-2.0 m) perennial grass. It has a small stout rhizomatous stolen which gives rise to spongy, fibrous, dense roots system. Roots have aromatic properties and grow 20-30 cm deep in medium textured marginal soils under cultivation. Tremendous diversity exists with respect to pattern of growth, orientation and thickness of roots, as well as for occurrence of secondary roots. The bast region of root is the source of essential oil. The leaves are linear, narrow, erect, grassy, keeled with glabrous joint scabrid margins. Inflorescence is a panicle, up to 15-45 cm long, bearing numerous racemes in whorl on a central axis. The lower spikelets are reduced to lamena.
The upper spikelets are narrow, acute, appressed, awnless, green, grey or purplish in colour, 4-6 mm long, arranged in pairs. One floret in spike is sessile and bisexual; this bisexual floret has a glabrous callus, 3 stamens and 2 plumose stigmas. The other floret is pedicled and staminate. Java vetiver is non flowering type has broader leaves (1.1 mm), medium thick stems, bushy growth bearing flowers with high pollen sterility; the plants give out more branching roots with higher oil content and the oil is dextro-rotatory in nature.
HISTORY and MYTH
Vetiver has a long and rich history. In India it has been used to make blinds necessary to keep out the intense heat. When the blinds are sprinkled with water they emit the vetiver scent. In Java the root has been used for centuries in weaving mats and thatching huts. The Vetiver root is used in folk magic for its purported ability to provide safety and increase financial resources. A ritual designed to promote personal safety calls for inhaling Vetiver while visualizing one’s body as being sealed off from negative energies.
What Is Vetiver Oil?
Chrysopogon zizanioides, commonly known as vetiver, is a perennial grass that belongs to the Poaceae family, which is native to India. Western and Northern India know this plant as khus. Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides), derived from a Tamil word that means “hatcheted up,” can grow up to 1.5 meters, and have tall stems and long, thin, and rigid leaves. Its flowers are brownish-purple. Vetiver hails from India but is widely cultivated in the world’s tropical regions.
Vetiver essential oil is derived through the steam distillation of the plant’s roots. It has a strong initial aroma and is described as woody, smokey, earthy, herbaceous, and spicy. While not widely known, it dates back centuries and, in the 12th century, even became a taxable item in India.
Perhaps the most valued quality of vetiver oil is that it is deeply grounding, and often used for promoting sleep. It is said to also be equally helpful for restlessness.
Composition of Vetiver Oil
According to a paper by U. C. Lavania from India, the chemical composition of vetiver oil is extremely complex. It mainly comprises sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpene derivatives, of which vetiverols, their carbonyl compounds and esters, serve as the main constituents. Their relative abundance normally dictates the quality of the oil.
Three carbonyl compounds are deemed the primary odor-influencing components of this essential oil, which is used extensively to blend oriental-type perfumes and floral compounds, along with other cosmetic and aromatherapy applications. Vetiver oil is also a main ingredient in 36 percent of all Western-quality perfumes and 20 percent of all men’s fragrances, says Lavania. The author adds that the main fibrous smooth roots are important for oil quality.
A separate study, published in the Journal of Essential OilResearch, looked at the chemical composition of selected vetiver essential oils. It found about 110 constituents, mainly sesquiterpenes. The characteristic constituents were beta-vetispirene (1.6 to 4.5 percent), khusimol (3.4 to 13.7 percent), vetiselinenol (1.3 to 7.8 percent), and alpha-vetivone (2.5 to 6.3 percent).
How Does Vetiver Oil Work?
Since essential oils are extremely potent, I advise vetiver oil to be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. You can start with one drop to one to three teaspoons of carrier oil. With caution, increase the essential oil as needed.
Vetiver oil works in vapor therapy – it can address nervous complaints, dispel anger and irritability, and relieve insomnia this way. It can also be blended in a massage oil or diluted in the bath. Through this mode of administration, it can assist with mental and physical exhaustion, nervous complaints, rheumatism and arthritic pain, and skin healing.
This essential oil also works in a cream or lotion, moisturizing and nourishing skin. It especially benefits dry, irritated, and dehydrated skin, and helps reduce wrinkles and stretch marks. On the other hand, it is generally NOT recommended to be taken internally.
Health Benefits of Vetiver Essential Oil
This essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy and has many medicinal properties, which are described in greater detail below.
1.) Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The very soothing and cooling effects of this essential oil calms and pacifies all sorts of inflammation. It is particularly good at providing relief from inflammation in both the circulatory and nervous system. It is also found to be an appropriate treatment for inflammation caused by sun stroke, dehydration and loo, which is the name given to very hot and dry winds prevalent during summers in the dry regions of India and neighboring countries.
2.) Cicatrisant Properties
Cicatrisant agents are substances that speed up the eradication or disappearance of scars and other marks from the skin. It also promotes the growth of new tissues in the affected places which replace the dead and discolored tissues and helps achieve a uniform look. This is also useful for post delivery stretch marks for pregnant women, fat cracks, after spots left by pox, and burns.
3.) Antiseptic Properties
In tropical countries like India and its neighbors, microbes and bacteria grow very fast due to the favorable hot and humid climates found in these regions. Then, it becomes obvious that your wounds are most likely to get sepsis in these places since there are plenty of bacteria located there. However, Mother Nature is very kind and she has provided the remedies as well, right in those exact same places. One such remedy is vetiver and the essential oil extracted from it. This oil efficiently stops the growth of Staphylococcus Aureus, the bacteria responsible for causing sepsis and eliminates them. It is totally safe for this oil to be applied externally on wounds or taken orally in order to protect wounds as well as internal organs from sepsis.
Mixed in sorbets and beverages as a flavoring agent, this oil has an aphrodisiac effect. It also enhances the libido and arouses feelings of sexual desire. Since sex has more to do with the psychology of the brain than the physiology, a remedy for most sexual disorders like frigidity, lack of libido, and impotence. Certain components of this oil stimulate those portions of brain and your problems in the bedroom are over.
The effect of a tonic on the body is quite similar to that of overhauling and servicing on vehicles. A tonic tones up every system of the body, namely the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Therefore, in a nutshell, it keeps the metabolic system in order, rejuvenates the body, gives strength and boosts immune function.
A tonic for the nerves is called a nervine, like the essential oil of vetiver. It takes care of the nerves and maintains their good health. It also heals the damage done to the nerves by shock, fear, and stress. Furthermore, it helps get rid of nervous disorders, afflictions, epileptic and hysteric attacks, nervous and neurotic disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, and lack of control over limbs and spasms.
The essential oil of vetiver is a well known sedative. It sedates nervous irritations, afflictions, convulsions and emotional outbursts such as anger, anxiety, epileptic and hysteric attacks, restlessness, and nervousness. It even benefits patients that suffer from insomnia.
This property of vetiver essential oil helps heal wounds by promoting the growth of new tissues in wounded places and also by keeping it safe from infections by inhibiting growth of microbes. Finally, it also promotes the accumulation of leucocytes and platelets at that location.
Vetiver essential oil also benefits patients of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, muscular aches, dryness and cracking of the skin.
Popular Uses of Vetiver Essential Oil
Add 1–2 drops to tea or hot drinks during winter time to promote immunity.
Use as a massage oil to promote circulation and calm emotions.
Take a warm bath with a few drops of Vetiver essential oil for deep relaxation.
Use a toothpick to help get the desired amount out of container if Vetiver is too thick to get out of the bottle. A little goes a long way.
The earthy, slightly lemony fragrance is said to have been used for centuries in India. Dab on your wrists or neck. Try blending it with a floral aroma like Ylang Ylang or Clary Sage, or even a citrus like Bergamot.
It’s antiseptic properties help gently cleanse the face. Test for sensitivity and mix one drop in 3 drops of coconut oil and apply to a freshly washed face.
Make your own vetiver water by soaking clean vetiver roots in cooled boiling water for 2–3 hours. Make sure to cover the pot as the roots soak. The water has a calming effect on the body, and it acts as a blood purifier. It can also be used to rinse your hair to give you a cooling and refreshing feeling.
Put 5–10 drops of vetiver oil in your bath water; because it’s both fragrant and cooling, using it in your bath prevents overheating and helps with relaxation and insomnia. To boost the calming results, combine vetiver oil with lavender and rose essential oils as well.
To benefit your mind and mood, diffuse 3–5 drops of vetiver oil or place 1–2 drops on your wrists, chest and neck.
Make your own calming massage oil by mixing 3–5 drops of vetiver oil with equal parts jojoba oil. This combination leaves your skin clean and moisturized, and your mind at peace.
Vetiver essential oil blends well with Clary Sage, Lavender, Rose, Sandalwood, and Ylang Ylang essential oils. In addition to Vetiver essential oil, also consider trying Frankincense or Lavender.
How to Find Vetiver Oil
It’s easy to find and purchase vetiver oil from a local health food store or online. Look for reputable and organic brands that indicate the product is 100 percent vetiver essential oil. A 10-milliliter bottle of vetiver oil costs between $10 and $15. Vetiver oil blends well with bergamot oil, cedarwood essential oil, geranium oil, ginger essential oil, jasmine oil, lavender essential oil, lemon oil, lemongrass essential oil, orange oil, patchouli essential oil, rose oil and sandalwood essential oil.
You can also purchase a vetiver sponge; it can be found online or in an Ayurvedic shop. The loofah-type sponge is made of vetiver roots, and it’s used to exfoliate dead skin cells and improve circulation in the body. They have a pleasant, woody-citrus fragrance, and they’re antibacterial.
Is Vetiver Oil Safe?
This essential oil is deemed non-irritating, non-sensitizing, and non-toxic, and therefore generally safe. But it should not be used by pregnant women, and you should use extreme caution and consult a doctor before using it on children. Prior to widespread use, always test for skin sensitivity by doing a patch test.
Always dilute vetiver oil using a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Given their quality and composition, most brands should not be ingested.
Side Effects of Vetiver Oil
WebMd says that that the possible side effects of vetiver oil are not known. However, it adds that it is unsafe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to take vetiver, as it might cause a miscarriage.