What is vetiver?
Vetiver is a perennial bunch grass of Indian origin. Its botanical name is chrysopogon zizanioides. The plant grows up to three meters in height. Its clumps also spread equally wide. The notable phenomena is that the root also grows underground up to two meters. The stems of the plant are tall, stiff and erect and the leaves are thin. It is a highly drought resistant plant and has the capacity to prevent soil erosion.
The root tastes sweet and can cool down the body. An oil is extracted from the root for its medicinal benefits.
How is vetiver oil made?
Vetiver oil is an essential oil prepared by distillation process. The root of the plant is distilled to obtain the aromatic vetiver oil. Distillation of the oil is done by various methods like steam or hydro distillation. As the name suggests, it is only the root that is used and not the whole plant for distillation of the oil.
Estimated annual demand of vetiver oil in India is 100 tons, of which about 80 % is met through imports. The oil is used for cooking, massage, aromatic therapy, fragrance, and flavor and also as a spiritual healer.
The distilled oil is highly viscous with very low evaporation rate. It is soluble in alcohol enabling the oil to become most suitable for uses in the perfume industry. In addition to its uses for the fragrance, vetiver oil is used as a laxative. It easily blends with other oils like jasmine or sandalwood oils. Because of the strong, rich, exotic fragrance it has to be sufficiently diluted in order to make perfumes with different odor. Appropriate quantity of the oil is mixed with other oils in order to get different flavors needed.
Health benefits of vetiver oil
Vetiver oil provides many health benefits like supporting the immune system, therapeutic use, besides its use in perfumery and aromatherapy. Sesquiterpenes and their derivatives present in the essential oil provides enormous benefits. The quality of oil is very high and due to this factor it is used in most high quality perfumes. The oil contains more than a hundred useful constituents which make it a much sought after essential oil for the preparation of a number of perfumes and other products.
For skin health
It provides excellent benefits in protecting the skin. Before using the oil, the skin must be tested for possible reaction. Sensitivity of the skin is tested by applying a drop of the oil on an inconspicuous area. Some of the benefits in skin protection are:
Clears scars – Topical application of the oil removes scars and other marks created by wounds or boils from the skin. Dead cells are replaced by the oil and the dark spots on the skin are removed in addition to bringing uniformity in skin color.
Removes stretch marks – Post-delivery stretch marks around the belly area due to shrinking of the muscles and skin remaining in women are removed by the oil.
To moisturize skin – Dryness in the skin and flaking due to eczema are cured by application of the oil regularly.
Cure for rashes – Skin rashes caused due to sun heat or any allergy can be cured by just massaging with the oil. It is known to provide quick relief. People who are not able to bath for any reason can pour a few drops of the oil in cloth and have a towel bath to have the fresh and cool effect.
Scars created due to wounds and cuts on the skin are removed.
Anti-acne properties – It tones up the skin and prevents future acne. Anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of the oil prevents and cures acne and scar created due to acne.Because of the toning effect and acne curative properties it acts as an anti-ageing agent too. It facilitates the regeneration of the epidemic cells and prevents shrinking of the skin which is generally associated with ageing.
How to use vetiver oil on the skin?
Sufficiently diluting the oil with coconut oil as a carrier oil can be used as a good face wash oil. However before using as a face wash care must be taken to test the skin for any allergic reactions. Coconut oil itself is known for its goodness to the skin and when it is used to dilute vetiver oil and used as face wash the results are amazing.
Vetiver for hair health
Apart from skin protection, vetiver oil is very useful for the health of hair. Particular benefits for the hair are:
- It eradicates lice from the scalp and strengthens the scalp and hair roots. The inflammation caused due to lice bite is also cured.
- Aromatic therapeutic use of the oil conditions the hair.
- Using it as a bath oil makes the hair grow healthy and prevent greying.
Even though the oil is popularly used for the betterment of skin and hair health, it is known to provide many benefits for overall health of the body. Some of them are:
Other key health benefits of vetiver oil
Inflammation in the nervous system and the circulatory system are reduced by it Inflammation caused due to sun-stroke and dehydration are reduced by massaging with the oil. It improves blood circulation and the immunity system.
Infections due to bacteria are prevented by application of the oil. The bacteria that causes sepsis is eliminated by the oil. Wounds are also cured by external application as well as consumption of this oil.
Nervous disorders caused due to shocks, stress, Parkinson’s disease are cured by the oil application and consumption.
The aphrodisiac property present in the oil enhances libido. It also provides remedy for other sexual disorders in men like impotence and frigidity by acting as a stimulant of the brain.
In addition to healing wounds, vetiver oil prevents infections and enhance the production of platelets and leucocytes in the wounded area.
It is a stress buster. It relaxes the body and calms down the mind and facilitate undisturbed sleep.Cortisol is a hormone produced due to over anxiety and stress. Vetiver oil reduces the production of cortisol and balances hormones in the body.
Cure for insomnia
Insomnia is relieved by its sedative property. It is helpful for persons affected by deep emotions like outburst of anger and extreme anxiety. Persons affected by convulsions and nervous disorders are immensely benefited by using the oil by external application and oral consumption. Not only the symptoms are cured, it helps strengthening of the nervous system. Just inhalation of the oil relieves stress and anxiety to a larger extent even without any oral supplement.
Application of the oil on the affected parts provide significant relief for gout, muscle and joint pains, arthritis and rheumatism. Headaches and muscle pain can be cured by inhaling a few times or by application on the affected muscle and for relieving headache on application on the temples and fingertips.
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder is treated with essential oil of vetiver for prompt relief. The disorder is cured by just inhaling the oil through nose a few times. There is no need to diffuse the oil for inhaling. The oil is more particularly helpful in reducing ADHD symptoms in children because of its calming effect primarily. Effect of the oil in ADHD affected children is found to be totally rewarding. Use of the oil on infants and very young children are yet to be studied.
The oil is used as a general tonic for development of the respiratory, digestive, and immune and nervous systems of the body. The tonic also helps in circulation of the blood and excretion of waste from the body by improving the metabolism. Use of vetiver oil for towel bath could significantly reduce fever.
Uses in chemotherapy
Studies are being undertaken to confirm the effectiveness of the usage of the oil in chemotherapy, an exclusive method for cancer treatment. Anti-oxidant property in the oil is found to slow down the cell damage in the kidneys, bone marrow and DNA
Ayurveda system of Indian medicine considers the oil as an effective therapeutic oil which works on the seven chakras of the body. A few drops of the oil is recommended to be rubbed on the neck, wrist and chest to achieve the desired relief.
Siddha system recommends the oil for curing jaundice, burns, impotency, mental disorder and loss of consciousness.
The oil is an effective bug repellent besides curing tick bites and removing termites. For these remedies it is used in the form of diluted oil itself for external application or as a spray to drive away the harmful insects and fly. Lyme disease caused by tick bites is cured and prevented by the products of the oil. Its non-toxic character make it desirable for use even in vulnerable surfaces.
The other most significant benefit of vetiver oil is its use in perfumery industry in the preparation of cosmetics, room fresheners, soaps etc.
It is also used as a flavoring agent in various beverages and other food items due to its pleasant aroma.
It is observed that the performance of lavender and cedar wood oils are significantly enhanced by mixing appropriately with vetiver oil.
How to use vetiver essential oil?
Vetiver essential oil must be diluted with a carrier oil before use. It blends well with essential oils of lavender, grape fruit, benzoin, jasmine, coconut oil and ylang-ylang. The oil and its products are used both for external application and oral consumption.
The oil must be carefully used under medical supervision or as directed by the brand manufacturer, more particularly by pregnant ladies during the first few months of pregnancy.
It is not advisable to be used by lactating mothers also even though it is recommended to increase breast milk which is not supported with any clinical proof.
Similarly using the oil for children must be based on consultation with a pediatrician. The effect of the oil on children below the age of six years is still under study for arriving at conclusive benefits. Hence it is better to avoid using it on younger children.