Vetiver oil Health Benefits, Uses, Quality & Best Products Compared

Author: Dr. Michael Tyler
Date: 01.10.2020
Reading time: 6:19 min

Vetiver oil is obtained from the roots of a tropical sweet grass, is calming for the mind and soothing for the skin.

Name Vetiver
Lat. Name Vetiveria zizanioides, Chrysopogon zizanioides
Synonyms
Origin South East Asia
Price per 10ml 19,90

Psychological impact

Essential vetiver oil has a sweet earthy aroma and is reminiscent of musk or forest. Its grounding effect is almost felt in the soul. It helps to centre the wandering mind, and improves concentration. Overall, it reorientates, is calming, and soothing. Vetiver oil stabilises the psyche, and provides new strength to relax and regenerate the mind. It can help to overcome mental exhaustion, depression or trauma. Anxiety and sleep disorders can also be alleviated with the oil.

Physical effect

The ingredients of the essential vetiver oil regenerate the skin. It is excellent for treatment of pigment spots - so-called age spots - as well as stretch marks. Overall, vetiver oil is said to have anti-ageing properties. Skin damaged by acne can also be stimulated to regenerate with the help of the essential oil.  

Internally, vetiver oil strengthens the immune system and can help protect the body from infections.

Application

 

Fragrance oil

  In the fragrance lamp, vetiver oil can be combined with harmonious fragrances. Bergamot, verbena, geranium, jasmine, cardamom, orange, rose, sandalwood, tolu, tonka, tuberose, ylang-ylang, cinnamon or lemon are all suitable. Vetiver oil’s calming and liberating effects are particularly suitable for emotional unrest. Because it is gentle, it is also suitable for hyperexciteable children who have difficulty concentrating. In these cases, the grounding effect of the essential oil is beneficial and promotes peace and concentration.

Owing to its powerful aroma, only a few drops in a fragrance lamp are sufficient to spread the aroma throughout the room. 2 drops of vetiver oil, 3 drops of orange oil and 1 drop of clary sage oil provide a pleasant mixture of fragrances against exhaustion and depression.

The aroma is also effective in a steam bath. A good mixture for a bath additive is 3 drops of vetiver oil, 1 drop of ylang-ylang oil and 5 drops of sandalwood oil. All oils are poured into half a glass of cream, which is best poured into the bath water when you are already in the tub.

The aroma of vetiver oil is also frequently used in the perfume and cosmetics industry. The scent can be found in a number of perfumes, as well as in soaps, lotions or bath foam. However, because its scent is so sweet, is it only used in small quantities here.

The scent of vetiver oil is also very effective against insects. Moths can be driven out of cupboards, especially if your preference is the aroma of essential oils over mothballs. Put a few drops of vetiver oil on cotton or blotting paper and place it between your clothes.

On the skin

To clean and care for the skin, a few drops of vetiver oil can be added to a carrier oil, such as almond or jojoba oil. This mixture can also be used to treat large areas of skin well. For more generalised skin problems, such as stretch marks or acne, the essential oil can also be massaged into the skin. In contrast to many other essential oils, it usually does not irritate the skin.

A relaxing massage with a massage oil containing vetiver also imparts the psychological effect of the aroma. Both properties can be appreciated together. Add 3 drops of vetiver oil to 30 ml of almond or jojoba oil.  

Consumption | Internal use

Vetiver oil can help to strengthen the immune system, especially in cold and flu season. Add one to two drops of the essential oil to a cup of warm tea every day. The added immune boost can strengthen the body against man types of seasonal infections.

Manufacturing

Essential vetiver oil is obtained by steam distillation from the roots of the vetiver plant. The best yield is obtained from 18 to 24 month old plants. To do this, the roots are dried, chopped up and soaked in hot water. The ingredients of the essential oil are carried by the water vapour into a cooling vessel, in which the vapour condenses and settles. The upper layer forms the brown viscous oil, which can be carefully removed. This oil is then left to age for a few months so that some unwanted elements from the distillation process can dissolve. Similar to essential oils from patchouli or sandalwood, the aroma of Vetiver matures and improves with age.

Ingredients

The main components of vetiver oil are the sesquiterpenes alpha-vetivon (5–10%) and beta-vetivon (3–5%), as well as khusimol (10–15%) and isovalencenol (5–10%). In addition, the essential oil contains a large number of other sesquiterpenoids, hydrocarbons, alcohols, ketones, aldehydes and acids. Together they form the unique earthy aroma of the oil. Depending on the starting material used, the ingredients may vary slightly in detail. This also reflects differences in quality. 

Vetiver oil distilled in Haiti and Réunion has a more floral aroma and is considered to be of higher quality compared to the smokier oil from Java. In northern India, vetiver oil is distilled from wild vetiver and is known as khus or khas. There it is considered superior to the oil from cultivated vetiver varieties. However, it hardly gets into trade outside of India.  

History

The vetiver plant is widely used in in South and East Asia. In India, mats are woven from the root network, which are hung in front of the doors and windows of traditional mud huts. They are regularly sprayed with water and kept moist. This cools the air entering the building and produces a pleasant aroma, which also repels insects - especially mosquitoes. As a material for building simple roofs, grass also has a cooling and insulating effect. Both roots and stalks of the plant are also used in India to create garlands that are primarily intended to honour the gods Shiva and Ganesha as temple decorations. In large parts of Asia, sweet grass serves to protect against soil erosion and pests. It is also a popular feed for cattle, goats and sheep.   Vetiver oil was used early in traditional medicine in Southeast Asia. Old Tamil writings show that the aromatic oil was used to treat stress, depression, listlessness and nervousness. Ointments and lotions containing vetiver oil were also used to treat inflamed skin hundreds of years ago. 

 

Botany

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) belongs to the family of sweet grasses and originally comes from the tropical regions of Asia. The tufts of a single plant reach a diameter of about 30 cm and a height of 50 to 150 cm. This grass has a unique root network, which penetrates to a depth of 3 m and is therefore very drought resistant. Other grasses usually have shallow roots and spread extensively. Several vetiver plants side by side form dense underground root networks, which is why they are often planted to protect against soil erosion. The flowers of the vetiver are purple to brown and relatively inconspicuous. 

Cultivation

Vetiver is mostly cultivated in Haiti, India, Indonesia and Réunion. The cultivated varieties are mostly sterile, so they do not produce germinating seeds. Their reproduction is therefore purely vegetative via offshoots. With this method, Vetiver can be cultivated worldwide in suitable climatic conditions without the risk that the plant will spread uncontrollably. That is how Vetiver is cultivated in South America and Africa.

The plants are grown in straight rows that facilitate mechanical harvesting. Despite the resistance to drought, Vetiver requires a relatively large amount of water for optimal growth. Younger plants are more likely to be watered from above, while older plants, from around 9 months of age, prefer to thrive in flood fields.

Since there are a number of different pests, some of which are unique to vetivers, insecticides are often used in cultivation. Ripe plants are harvested with machines or manually. The individual plants are uprooted to a depth of about 30 cm and collected as whole as possible without damage.

In addition to protecting against erosion and the essential oil, the fibrous grass and roots are used to manufacture ropes and handicrafts.

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