Vetiver is a perennial bunchgrass native to southern Asia and Indonesia. Since the old days, it has found use in many different applications. Farmers use it to stabilize the soil and prevent erosion, as well as inhibit the growth of weeds in the farm area.
Additionally, vetiver has a bountiful nutritional structure, which makes it a favorite animal feed. Indian craftspeople also use it for handicrafts, ropes, baskets, mattresses, and other fiber products.
However, hidden in the roots underground is vetiver’s real treasure: a rich vetiver essential oil that is vastly popular in the perfumery and cosmetics industries. Because of its many health benefits, the oil is also famous among aromatherapists and herbalists.
Vetiver essential oil in history
The scientific name of vetiver is Vetiveria Zizanoides. Vetiver physically resembles sorghum, but its morphological characteristics are closely related to those of fragrant grasses like lemongrass, citronella, and palmarosa.
The grass grows to a maximum height of five feet and is distinguished by tall stems, long, thin leaves, and small, brownish-purple flowers. Unlike most other plants in the grass family, vetiver exhibits a legume-like root system, which grows downwards, rather than spreading close to the surface. This grounds the plant firmly, making it extremely hardy and drought-tolerant.
The use of vetiver dates back centuries when early Indians used it to make furniture and a variety of home appliances. It was a favorite among artisans for its tough nature, which ensured the durability of crafted items.
However, it didn’t take long for Ayurvedic herbalists to discover the health and spiritual properties of vetiver’s roots. Soon after, they were using them to treat all sorts of health problems, including headaches, fever, arthritis pain, and muscular aches, as well as emotional issues, such as stress, anxiety, and restlessness.
Today, the medicinal vetiver roots undergo steam distillation to extract essential oil. Fresh oil is golden or dark brown in color, with a bold, woody, earthy, herbaceous, and spicy aroma.
Vetiver oil uses
The health benefits of vetiver are derived from its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, aphrodisiac, cicatrisant, nervine, sedative, and toning properties.
Some of the common uses of vetiver essential oil include:
Vetiver is renowned for its strengths in alleviating emotional stress, anxiety, panic attacks, trauma, hysteria, and depression. When diffused into a room or used in massage, the fragrance of vetiver oil reaches the brain, triggering pacifying reactions, such as a relaxed heart rate and smoother respiration.
The neurological effects of vetiver have recently found use in the treatment of ADD and ADHD in kids, where the essential oil’s calming properties help to keep the mind focused, encouraging children to be patient, settled, organized and adherent to directions.
Improves body functions
As a natural tonic, vetiver essential oil promotes the health of the immune and nervous systems in several ways. For starters, the relaxing effect that comes with inhaling the oil’s vapors stabilizes the heart rate and regulates blood circulation. It also reduces the active glucose content in the blood. Glucose floods the body when metabolism heightens due to anxiety and stress.
Vetiver’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory agents shield the digestive and respiratory systems from infections and disease, encouraging the steady absorption of nutrients and oxygen into the bloodstream. This positively impacts all the body tissues and organs.
Balances the hormones
Vetiver’s relaxing characteristics are essential in regulating the production of hormones in the body. Stress and anxiety deplete testosterone and sexual desires. But by soothing the mind and the body, vetiver efficiently improves testosterone synthesis and, therefore, acts as an aphrodisiac.
In women, vetiver essential oil has the same effect on estrogen levels. By inducing a refreshing feeling, it has the power to strengthen the reproductive system and balance hormones. It can also offset menstrual discomforts such as mood swings, fatigue, bloating, skin issues and cramps.
Improves skin health
The cicatrisant properties of vetiver essential oil help to heal scars by encouraging the regeneration of skin tissue. When added to an unscented base oil or your daily lotion, the oil can rejuvenate the skin and remove dark spots that result from skin conditions like acne and pox. Vetiver also acts as an anti-aging agent, by treating stretch marks, tightening saggy skin, and evening complexion.
As an antiseptic, vetiver cleanses the skin and shields it from harmful disease-causing microbes. The oil can also be applied to a wound or injury to kill bacteria and minimize the possibility of infection.
Prevents cell damage
Like rust on iron, human cells can undergo oxidation and degeneration when exposed to certain types of oxygen molecules. When these molecules are allowed to travel freely in the body, they cause the formation of dangerous free radicals, which are detrimental to cells and tissues.
Vetiver works as an antioxidant by encouraging a rapid, radical scavenging activity in the body and preventing their interaction with body tissue. By inhibiting oxidation, vetiver essential oil helps to slow down aging, detoxifies the body and reduces the risk of cancer.
Vetiver is known as a non-irritant, non-sensitizing and non-toxic substance, and is, therefore, among the safest essential oils to use topically and internally.
That said, pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are advised to seek professional help before adding vetiver to their medicine cabinets. Some reports claim that vetiver oil can lead to a miscarriage when ingested, but there is little evidence to justify this side effect.
Before extensively using vetiver on the skin, always do a patch test to make sure you are not sensitive to any of the oil’s components.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using this product.