Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) belongs to the Poaceae family, is native from India, and widely found in Asia, Africa, Oceania, Central, and South America .
The oil from the Vetiver root is a viscous liquid, pale-yellow to dark brown, and has a deep, smoky, earthy, green/herbal and woody scent.
It is one of the most complex oils known. Modern science has been able to isolate out more than 150 aromatic molecules from it. Yet, some are still non-identified. Therefore, this would explain why this oil has yet to be re-created synthetically.
Moreover, the best essential oil researchers in the world are always incredibly interested in Vetiver oil because it is such an unusual oil with many mysteries.
The perfumery and food (as a flavor agent) industries have been using it for decades.
Since the late 1950s, more than 300 men’s and women’s perfumes have familiarized perfume lovers with the ever recognizable woody note of Vetiver essence.
Even when its presence is limited to embellishing floral, spicy, powdery notes to give birth to delightful, timeless olfactory works of art, Vetiver is always a star.
Many perfumers have been and still are fascinated by the great variety of nuances Vetiver offers. It contains many earthy and woody facets, which make it a perfume in itself.
This oil may possess various biological activities, such as antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
The Unique Scent of Vetiver
“The immediate impression is one of a powerful earthy diffusiveness. It is a heavy oil and needs to be properly diluted so that it does not totally dominate any other fragrance which it is blended with.
Images of earth, roots, damp forest floors all come readily to mind when evaluating this oil. It also contains within its multidimensional profile, a quiet sweetness which somehow perfectly interweaves among its more earthy tones.
As one goes deeper and deeper into its complex character one discovers what may be termed as the precious woods notes which one also finds in oils like Sandalwood and Agarwood.” Jacques Pogel/Chanel perfume creator.
Vetiver Skin Benefits
It is used to balance the activity of the sebaceous oil glands as well as having deodorizing properties and helping normalize oily skin.
This oil is also capable of replenishing moisture in dry and dehydrated skin and has rejuvenating effect on mature skin.
- Skin Discoloration
The skin can sometimes become discolored, becoming darker (hyper-pigmentation) or lighter (hypo-pigmentation). Vetiver exhibits powerful antioxidative activity and is able to control the skin melanin production and therefore regulate skin discoloration. As a matter of fact, it is highly recommended for controling dark and/or white spots on skin.
- Antioxidant Properties
In a study, the various antioxidant activities were compared with powerful antioxidants such as butyl hydroxy toluene, ascorbic acid, quercetin, alpha tocopherol, pyrocatechol and curcumin respectively.
In fact, it scavenges free radicals, ameliorating damage imposed by oxidative stress in different skin conditions and serve as a potential source of natural antioxidant.
- Anti-microbial & Anti-fungal Properties
Several studies showed vetiver oil has high anti-fungal and anti-bacterial activities with MIC values amounting to that of clove oil.
The Aroma of Tranquility
Vetiver oil possesses sedative property and has been traditionally used in aromatherapy for grounding, resting and calming the mind.
Soil & Water Conservation
Soil erosion and water runoff bring devastating effects on the environment and economy. Most of the time, soil erosion occurs due to severe flooding and strong wind. It also happens due to natural disasters such as earthquakes, wild fires and hurricanes.
In addition, climate change has altered the pattern of rainfall, storm and drought around the world that has an impact on soil erosion.
During soil erosion, vast amount of soil and water is displaced from the fields to rivers that need to be cleaned.
The consequences of soil erosion are soil loss, soil quality degradation, food production loss, habitual change for organisms, economical burden to refill the soil and clean-up of the water ways.
Planting Vetiver in erosion prone, earthquake and hurricane areas could be a promising viable option to control soil erosion and its negative effects. Several studies have proved the viability of Vetiver in soil and water conservation.
Furthermore, a study reported on Vetiver plantation showing 42.4% and 53.7% improvement in soil and water conservation.
Phytoremediation is the use living plants to clean up soil, air, and water contaminated with hazardous contaminants.
Studies have shown that Vetiver can be quite effective if it is directly implemented in a contaminated soil or applied simultaneously with soil amendments such as fertilizers.
It is capable of accumulating various forms of pollutants, from heavy metals to organic wastes, in its roots and shoots. It can then break them down throughout its unique metabolic pathways.
Since ancient times, Vetiver grass and its roots are well known for their fragrance, medicinal and soil erosion control properties. Native to India, it is a perennial grass that grows up to 2 meters in height and the roots grows up to 3 meters deep.
They can grow in harsh conditions with limited water availability or in drought conditions. The roots hold plenty of soils, which encourages using this grass as a soil conservation tool in erosion prone areas.
Many soil conservation sites have been successfully implemented using Vetiver grass in several countries such as Haiti, Philippines and Thailand.
Several research studies over the past years prove that this wonderful grass could be used in other applications such as bio-remediation.
This includes toxic wastes, farm hedges, termite control, household handicrafts, composites and herbal medicine.
Ruh Khus (Wild Vetiver Oil) Oil of Tranquility By Christopher McMahon.
(2007). Antimicrobial Activity of Essential Oils from Vetiveria nigritana and Vetiveria zizanioides. Roots, Journal of Essential Oil Bearing Plants, 10:6, 519-524.
Narong Chomchalow 1and Keith Chapman 21Assumption University, Bangkok, Thailand. 2 FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand. Other Uses and Utilization of Vetiver.
Effect of Vetiveria zizanioides Essential Oil on Melanogenesis in Melanoma Cells: Downregulation of Tyrosinase Expression and Suppression of Oxidative Stress. doi: 10.1155/2014/213013
In vitro antioxidant activity of Vetiveria Zizanioides root extract. PMID: 24409635
Multiple applications of vetiver grass – a review EDGARD GNANSOUNOU*, CATARINA M. ALVES, JEGANNATHAN KENTHORAI RAMAN Bioenergy and Energy Planning Research. Group École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne A3 424 (GC building), EPFL IIC ENAC GR-GN, Station 18, CH-1015 Lausanne SWITZERLAND.
Vetiver Oil & Its Sedative Effect – Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research (TISTR) Bangkok, Thailand.