Vetiver is a tall perennial grass native to South Asia. It is considered a sacred herb with protective, healing, soothing, and uplifting properties. As a reported natural body cooler, vetiver essential oil is extremely popular in countries with warm, tropical climates, including Sri Lanka and India where it is known as the “oil of tranquility.” It is said to cool the body during very high temperatures while soothing feelings of nervousness and anxiety.
In parts of India, vetiver essential oil is known by the names khus-khus or khus oil. Although it is not well-known to Western countries, the many health benefits of vetiver essential oil definitely make it a valuable addition to your medicine chest. For centuries, vetiver oil has been used in traditional medicine in African, Caribbean, and Asian countries and was also once used in folk magic for its ability to increase abundance.
Over the years, vetiver oil has been used to treat heat stroke, skin issues, joint disorders, and for boosting energy. It may also help you treat insomnia, libido, and ADHD and ADD symptoms.
What is the Vetiver Plant?
The vetiver plant itself is actually quite amazing! The bunchgrass plant belongs to the Poaceae family and goes by the botanical names Andropogon muricatus, Vetiveria zizanioides and Chrysopogon zizanioides.
Vetiver grass grows up to five feet high, with long stems and leaves and purplish-brown flowers. Its hardy roots grow downward as deep as eight feet, which is deeper than some tree roots. In fact, the roots have been used to stabilize stream banks, rice paddies, and even railways.
Vetiver essential oil is made from the steam distillation of the plant’s roots. Vetiver oil’s aroma is strong and can be described as earthy, smoky, and spicy, similar to sandalwood and patchouli oils.
Vertiver oil is distilled from the roots, and contains more than 100 components with the most important compounds including beta-vertivenene, delta-selinene, khusimene, vetiselinenol, khusimol, cyclocopacamphan-12-ol (epimers A and B), khusimol, vetiselinenol, alpha-vetivone, alpha-cadinol, beta-vetivone, khusimone, and isovalencenol.
Health Benefits of Vetiver Essential Oil
Vetiver grass was once used to make rugs, curtains, baskets, and roof thatches. In the Middle Ages, vetiver oil was used in scents, which continues to be the case today. It is commonly found in air fresheners, perfumes, soaps, cosmetics, and it is a flavoring agent in some beverages and sorbets. Vetiver is also found in mulch for weed control in cocoa, coffee, and tea plantations.
For thousands of years, vetiver essential oil has been used in Ayurveda medicine to treats fevers, muscle aches, headaches, and arthritis. The purported health benefits of vetiver essential oil may be due to its nervine, sedative, cicatrisant, antiseptic, tonic, aphrodisiac, anti-inflammatory, vulnerary, and antioxidant properties.
A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2005 evaluated vetiver essential oil’s antioxidant activity, and the results found that vetiver oil had strong free radical scavenging activity when compared to standard antioxidants like alpha-tocopherol and butylated hydroxytoluene.
The following are some of the other impressive benefits of vetiver oil:
1. ADHD Management
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 2 million children in the U.S. In a small study done in 2001, vetiver essential oil was found to be effective in treating children with the condition, which is characterized by inattention and impulsive behavior. The two-year study involved 40 children with 20 being diagnosed with ADHD and 20 undiagnosed children as the control group. Other oils used in the trial included cedarwood, lavender, and a brainpower blend that included blue cypress, helichrysum, and Melissa essential oils. Vetiver oil increased performance in ADHD children by 100%, while the relaxing and calming properties of vetiver oil combated ADHD symptoms, such as being easily distracted, impatience, fidgety behavior, diminished focus, and difficulty concentrating.
2. May Control Anxiety and Nervousness
Vetiver essential oil may also be useful for sleep, emotional stress, restlessness, trauma, panic attacks, hysteria, depression, nervousness, and anxiety. In a study published in the journal Natural Product Research in 2015, vetiver essential oil was tested as a tool for anxiety, and its effects on the central amygdaloid nucleus. The central amygdaloid nucleus is responsible for the results and perception of emotions, including changes in respiration, blood pressure, and heart rate. The vetiver oil altered neuronal activation from stress when given to rats, and the oil had the same impact as the anxiety drug Diazapam.
3. May Prevent Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a bacterial infection that is transmitted from ticks. It affects many systems of the body, and it can lead to symptoms like cognitive problems, psychiatric problems, neurological problems, arthritis, severe fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, heart problems, hearing problems, and skin rashes. Vetiver essential oil has insecticide properties that were shown to be effective against tick species like Rhipicephalus microplus and Amblyomma cajennense, according to a study published in the journal Veterinary Parasitology in 2015.
4. May Provide Chemotherapy Relief
Some of the more debilitating side effects of chemotherapy include hair loss, fatigue, constipation, nausea and vomiting, easy bleeding and bruising, and anemia. Some research indicates that the antioxidant levels in vetiver oil can mitigate the effects of chemotherapy. In one study published in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology in 2015, vetiver oil was given to mice who were also given chemotherapy. As a result, damage to kidneys, marrow, and DNA was slowed when compared to mice that didn’t take the essential oil.
How to Use Vetiver Oil at Home
Where do you find vetiver essential oil? You can find it online or from local health food stores. Pure therapeutic grade vetiver essential oils through can be found through reputable essential oil companies.
Vetiver oil will blend well with other essential oils, including sandalwood oil, rose oil, patchouli oil, orange oil, lemongrass oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, jasmine oil, ginger oil, geranium oil, cedarwood oil, and bergamot oil.
There are several ways you can use vetiver oil at home. For instance, you can improve your mood after placing a drop or two on your chest, neck, and wrists. You can also diffuse three to five drops of vetiver oil for a similar effect. Here are a few other ways to use your vetiver essential oil.
1. Vetiver Massage Oil
Make massage oil with three to five drops of vetiver essential oil with equal parts of jojoba oil. As a result, your skin becomes moisturized and clean, while your mind is calm.
2. Vetiver Bath
Add five to 10 drops of vetiver oil in the bath to help with insomnia and relaxation. Combining vetiver oil with rose and lavender essential oils may boost calming effects.
Vetiver Essential Oil Precautions
Vetiver essential oil is generally considered safe because it is a non-toxic, non-sensitizing, and non-irritant substance. But there are possible vetiver oil side effects and precautions to keep in mind. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should not use the essential oil, and you should consult your doctor before using on children. There are currently no drug interactions on record for vetiver oil. Although there is insufficient evidence, some sources claim that vetiver essential oil can cause miscarriage when taken orally. Also, vetiver oil should always be diluted with carrier oil like coconut oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, or jojoba oil.
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