Feeling stressed out? Try using vetiver. It’s an essential oil that’s best known for its sedative effects. However, there’s so much more to vetiver than helping you relax. Discover more about this versatile botanical….
What is vetiver?
Vetiver essential oil (VEO) is best known in aromatherapy for its relaxation effects.
Like all essential oils, the plant goes through steam distillation to render its oils. Studies prove that when people take a deep breath of vetiver oil, it has a profound effect on the central nervous system.
In fact, research studies have measured the effects of vetiver on brain activity (using an EEG). Those studies show that the oil has a significant effect on emotions.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll explore the vast vetiver uses and benefits shortly, as well as research on it.
First though, let’s get to know this perennial a bit better….
- Native to India
- Around 100 years ago, it was introduced to tropical regions (Haiti, Indonesia, and Reunion Island)
- Highly drought tolerant
- As a grass, it protects and prevents erosion (and provides soil)
- Very resistant to pests and diseases (which may explain why people use the oil as an inset repellant)
- Keeps pests away in fields
- Prevents weed overgrowth
- Contains strong antioxidants
Prized Perfume Ingredient
Vetiver is well known outside of the herbal healing world. Pharmaceutical companies use it as a natural antibiotic and fungus killer. It’s also one of the most valuable and common ingredients in cosmetics and soap. Both industries combined feature it in over 400 products.
In the west, outside of aromatherapy, it’s best known as a prized raw material in perfumes. And it doesn’t come cheap. For example, take Tom Ford Grey Vetiver perfume. It sells for $122 at Sephora.
But that’s nothing compared to Creed Vetiver (aka the original vetiver). It runs for $395 a bottle. What’s so special about this perfume that justifies the steep price tag? The slick copywriting on the website says:
“The House of Creed infuses all three parts of the plant: the earthy root, the verdant leaves, and the rich heart to freshen the blend….”
Here is how the website describes the scent:
“The result is a scent reminiscent of lingering summers, invigorating and vivacious, it leaves an alluring air of freshness around any lucky enough to wear it.”
Does that copy make you want to fork over 400 bucks? Considering its expensive cost in perfumes, you would expect it to smell like a thousand fragrant roses.
However, the oil itself is often described as “fresh-woody.”
Yet another well-known perfume company describes the scent in a men’s eau-de-toilette ($75) like so:
“In the 1950s, the Guerlain vetiver family … succeeded in making a subtle dosage that recalls the exhalations of the earth in the pale dawn light. This evocation of the world’s first morning is enriched with a woody accord and the refined elegance of spices and tobacco to give rise to a rare and sophisticated fragrance.”
What is Vetiver used for?
As a plant, it has many uses, including:
- Detoxifying soils from heavy metals
- Mattress stuffing and animal bedding
- Animal feed; mulch
- Controlling weeds in coffee production
- People in India use the grass for preventing erosion and providing soil
The therapeutic compounds from the plant have many uses.
In India, vetiver is used it is used as a traditional medicine to prevent infectious diseases. Additionally, it’s used for snake bites and scorpion stings in India. On top of that, it’s used to:
- Relieve flatulence
- Induce sweating (for detoxing)
- Encouraging urination
- Regulate menstruation
- Kill parasites
And according to the reference guide, “Updated & Revised Essential Oils Expanded,” here are other uses:
- Helping focus
- Skincare (acne, scleroderma, sunburns)
- Healing wounds
- Pain relief for muscles
- Concussion recovery
People in the Caribbean island of Trinidad use a tea made out of vetiver as a rem flu remedy. In addition to that, people there also use it for colic, nausea and pneumonia.
Across the other side of the world, in Southeast Asia (the Philippines and Thailand), vetiver root is a folk remedy for gallstones. People in India, it’s traditionally use vetiver to relieve urinary tract infections.
But perhaps the most researched and popular use, at least in the west, is vetiver’s calming, grounding effects. It can positively affect emotions. This makes it an ideal oil to use in massage therapy.
Research says that it can be used “in the treatment of various illnesses including mental and emotional symptoms.”
In addition, other studies show it reduces damage to cells because of its antioxidants.
A Natural Sedative—And Stimulant
Many use vetiver essential oil (VEO) for its calming effects. But interestingly, studies show conflicting actions.
In one study on anxious rats, researchers discovered that VEO acted on a certain part of the brain (the central amygdaloid). The VEO seemed to calm anxiety in the rats.
However, in another study, the researchers concluded that the oil affected the rats’ central nervous systems. The VEO didn’t make the rats calmer. Instead, they were more alert after inhaling the oil.
Other research has shown vetiver to be an effective ingredient against seizures. This finding also supports the use of VEO as a natural sedative.
Despite this, you may use VEO as a stimulant to improve alertness and task performance.
How to use Vetiver
Got annoying mosquito bites? Dilute some VEO with a carrier oil. Apply it directly to the bite. You can also use it to keep bugs away. Use a diffuser or spray some on your clothes.
For skin care, combine it with your favorite all-natural lotion. About 3-5 drops will do along with about a shot-glass worth of lotion. You can use it in an anti-aging blend, too. It may minimize wrinkles. Use other EOs that are beneficial for skin. Frankincense is legendary for its anti-wrinkle benefits.
If you have acne breakouts, apply a few drops directly to the affected area. Your skin might be sensitive to it so use a carrier oil to dilute it. Finally, to keep your armpits smelling “fresh-woody” you can use it as a natural aluminum-free deodorant.
Do you use vetiver? What for? Leave a comment.