Botanical Name: Vetivera zizanoides
Botanical Family: Graminae
The Basics: Vetiver is a wild grass best known for having deeply entrenched root systems. The essential oil is distilled from the dried rhizomes. Unlike other grasses, the roots of Vetiver grow vertically down into soil rather than spreading out horizontally underground. Because the roots can be several feet long, Vetiver is often planted to prevent soil erosion and rehabilitate landscapes that have already been damaged by erosion. Vetiver is native to India but grows well in a wide variety of climates. The scent is a sweet grassy earth scent that is sometimes a little musty and smoky.
In the Aromatherapy world Vetiver is used most often for its ability to provide relaxation and grounding. These qualities make Vetiver ideal for the relief of stress and anxiety while strengthening connections to the earth and root chakra.
Vetiver is cooling and moist, helping to clear heat from the body. If you visit an Indian grocery, you’ll find Khus syrup made from Vetiver that can be used to make cooling drinks. Vetiver is also traditionally woven into window coverings and mats that, when wet, help to protect a room from the heat of the sun. These coverings have the added benefit of repelling insects and creating a lovely scent.
Vetiver can help firm skin that’s suffering from slackness due to aging or loss of fat in the layers underneath the skin. Vetiver is also effective at regulating the production of estrogen and progesterone which can alleviate the symptoms of both PMS and menopause. The grounding quality further assists with preventing mood swings that can occur as a result of hormonal fluctuations.
The idea of using Vetiver to prevent male pattern baldness seems to be gaining momentum. I don’t know about re-growing hair, but it makes sense to me that Vetiver could be used to prevent hair loss. The proliferation of long and thick root systems is in the plant DNA. Maybe it does the same thing with the roots of hair. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any non-commercial information supporting this idea. IMHO: If you’re concerned about hair loss or want to thicken what you have, I don’t see how it could hurt to try a little Vetiver essential oil in a scalp massage. Try the formula below:
1oz. Aloe Vera Gel – the watery kind, not a gel texture
3/4oz. Rosemary Hydrosol – Sub Lavender Hydrosol if you like
1/4oz. Evening Primrose Oil
2 drops each: Lavender / Atlas Cedar/ Vetiver (replace Vetiver with Rosemary to stimulate)
Evening Primrose has a strong smell of its own and I recommend adding the essential oils to it before mixing it with the aloe and hydrosol. Add the ingredients to a 2oz. spray bottle. Shake well and spray the mist onto your scalp. Massage into your scalp daily or as needed. Warning: This blend does not smell good. You won’t want to leave the house with this on your hair. I suggest using it when you get home for the day so the smell has time to fade before you go to sleep.
Vetiver has long been a component in perfumes for its fixative power and aphrodisiac properties. It is definitely a base note but also has high odor intensity and can easily dominate other scents. If you want balance in your blend, use a light hand with Vetiver. The intensity of fragrance along with its low cost makes Vetiver a great value essential oil for product formulators and soap makers.
Esoterically, Vetiver is used to protect the body from negative influences as well as assisting with the manifestation of money. As with Basil, you would inhale the oils while visualizing more money flowing into your life.
There are no known contraindications for Vetiver and it should be safe to use for all healthy adults in standard Aromatherapy dosage amounts. Vetiver makes a gorgeous contrast for Bergamot. Try a ratio of 10 drops Bergamot to 1 drop Vetiver in your diffuser and enjoy all day long!
Resources for this post:
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia
Essential Aromatherapy by Susan Worwood and Valerie Ann Worwood
Magical Aromatherapy by Scott Cunningham
The Vetiver Network International – www.Vetiver.org