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Vetiver Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin

Vetiver may seem like your common grass, but this plant possesses several therapeutic benefits. Aside from being an ingredient to some of the famous perfume brands in the market, vetiver essential oil also has shown insecticidal, antioxidant, and anticancer activities. Vetiver oil is also known to improve mental conditions.

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Vetiver (Chrysopogon zizanioides), also known as khus, is a perennial grass from the Poaceae family. It is native to the tropical countries of Asia. It was considered a weed in some regions because of its uncontrolled growth. This grass has long, thin leaves and stems that grow long spikes of small brown-purple flowers. Its roots can grow long and reach up to 3 meters in depth.

Vetiver was first introduced in India in the 1980s as a tool in soil conservation. Aside from the ability to hold soil and sediments, the roots of the vetiver grass is where its essential oil is derived. It is extracted by ageing the roots before soaking in water and undergoing the distillation process. Today, Indonesia, China, and Haiti are the major producers of vetiver oil.

The oil has a viscous dark brown color with an earthy and smoky scent with a sweet persistent undertone. It has an almost similar scent to citronella and lemongrass essential oil. Vetiver essential oil consists mainly of sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpenols, and sesquiterpenones. The khusimol, α-vetivone, and β-vetivone compounds give the oil its unique aroma.

Traditional Uses of Vetiver Essential Oil

Vetiver essential oil has been used all over the world for thousands of years. It is popularly known as the ‘Oil of Tranquility’ and ‘The Fragrance of the Soil’ in India and Sri Lanka because of its soothing, healing, uplifting, and shielding properties.

In ancient times, they use vetiver plants for making perfumes, soaps, and cosmetics. Its scent made it a famous ingredient in men’s colognes.

Ancient Chinese have used the oil because of its ability to create calm mood, stabilize emotions, and reduce the feeling of anger that is why it is used during meditation practices.

Vetiver essential oil’s cooling property makes it ideal in lowering high body temperatures because of fever or prolonged sun exposure. It was also used to massage brides to sanctify them before their wedding.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Unsplash

Uses of Vetiver Essential Oil

To treat skin conditions

Its ability to hydrate, firm, and tighten the skin protects it from stressors therefore reducing the appearance of scars and marks.

Vetiver oil is known for its anti-ageing property, which makes it an effective remedy against wrinkles, stretch marks, burns, and other skin related conditions. It promotes the formation of new tissues to replace dead skin cells and discolored tissues, which gives the skin a uniform appearance. Lavender mixed with vetiver essential oil helps give a more moisturizing effect.


The antiseptic properties of the vetiver oil work against bacteria and microbes. It keeps infection at bay and is known to effectively lower the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, bacteria that causes sepsis.

Vetiver essential oil helps speed up the healing process of wounds and cuts. It promotes growth of healthy skin tissues by conditioning and nourishing it.


The cooling effect that vetiver oil gives off enables it to pacify different inflammation, even the ones in the circulatory and nervous system.

For better circulation

Vetiver essential oil promotes oxygen and strengthens red blood cells. It can enhance blood circulation. The oil’s ability to relieve stress also promotes healthier bodily systems.

An aphrodisiac

Vetiver oil’s aphrodisiac effect increases libido and stimulates sexual desire. Sexual disorders often arise from anxiety. The oil’s ability to treat anxiety helps create a stress-free mind which is important for treatment of sexual disorders.

For women’s reproductive health

Vetiver essential oil strengthens women’s reproductive system, eases discomforts associated with menstruation, and combat infertility. It helps with the symptoms of a premenstrual syndrome caused by estrogen and progesterone deficiency. This is because it can balance hormones, which also ease the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes.

Boosts mood and immunity

Vetiver oil is a well-known sedative that can calm the nerves. It is effective in controlling emotional outbursts (anger, anxiety, panic attacks, and nervousness). Through calming the nerves, it also promotes restful sleep, which is good for people battling with insomnia.

Vetiver essential oil can be blended with sweet orange essential oil to encourage positive feelings for a balanced and positive mood. It can boost the immune system’s ability to fight off diseases.

For healthy hair and scalp

Vetiver oil has an excellent anti-inflammatory property useful in treating dandruff. It revives hair strands and lessens irritation in the scalp.

Protection from ticks, termites, and mosquitoes

Vetiver oil is considerably toxic for ticks. When diluted with carrier oil, it may be topically applied to protect the skin from tick bites which can cause Lyme disease.

A study proved that vetiver oil can control the mosquito larva population, which causes several deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue, and filariasis. Vetiver essential oil also works against termites, head lice, and other pests.

Essential oil for ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is common in children and can continue throughout in life. A person with ADHD is usually agitated and has a short attention span, making it hard for them to focus. Vetiver oil aromatherapy improves mental alertness, which enables people with ADHD to focus. It also gives a sense of calm, which decreases mental fatigue in patients. To create a calm atmosphere and improve focus, a blend of vetiver, lavender, lemon, and vanilla essential oils can be diffused in a room.

Works against unwanted odor

The scent given off by vetiver oil helps deodorize unwanted odors in rooms. It can neutralize the odor from the kitchen which is where lingering odors are usually from.

Safety Tips and Precautions

Although vetiver is safe, the oil still carries a minor risk of toxicity. It is best to test for skin reactions before applying diluted vetiver oil on the body. The oil should never be used on or near sensitive parts of the body such as eyes, inside the nose, and ears.

Using the oil through an aromatherapy diffuser is safe but is not recommended for children below 2 years of age and around pets. Store the oil away from children and pets.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women and to those who are taking medications, it is advised to speak to a medical practitioner before using the oil. A potential side effect of vetiver oil is that it can induce miscarriages when used by pregnant women.

Essential oils can ease stress-induced behaviors and can manage moods, but it is not a replacement for any medical treatments or prescription.

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