Vetiver is one of the most widely used but least appreciated essential oils and grasses. The botanical name is Vetiveria Zizanoides and it is fondly known as the “Oil of Tranquility”.
Vetiver is a tall, dense grass with long narrow leaves and a strand of underground roots that grown to between 2 and 4 metres deep. It is sought after for its calming, protective, soothing and uplifting characteristics. Vetiver originates in India but is now widely cultivated around the world. It is used for its antiseptic, sedative, stimulant and tonic properties. Vetiver essential oil’s aroma is described as deep, sweet, woody, smoky, earthy, amber and balsamic.
Vetiver has been used throughout history in many different cultures for many different reasons from its healing abilities to ceremonies. The roots are also used to make shade awnings, mats, pillows, fans as well as compresses and exfoliators. Vetiver oil was used to anoint brides to bless them before entering marriage. In Ayurveda the root and essential oil are used for heatstroke, fevers and headaches. It is contained in 90% of all western perfumes, primarily as a base note. It is also widely used in the cooling, food and beverage industries.
Vetiver grass is being used extensively all over the world, including in South Africa, for stabilizing vegetation and as a solution for the ever-increasing problems of soil erosion, wind erosion and general degradation of the landscape. Recently, the focus has shifted towards the plants ability to absorb phosphates, nitrates and heavy metals. There is an international network called the Vetiver Network (www.vetiver.org), which was first developed by the World Bank for soil and water conservation in India in the 1980’s.It has grown rapidly and is now helping rural communities all over the world to introduce the Vetiver system, with spectacular success. Due to that fact that it is a non-invasive and fire and flood tolerant plant that acts as an erosion barrier and soil and water cleaner, it is being seen more and more as the true wonder plant.
In aromatherapy, vetiver has many uses. It is used as an insect repellent which it is excellent for. It is highly beneficial for circulation and is used to strengthen the red blood cells and promote oxygen throughout the body. Vetiver is also used to alleviate the symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis and muscular aches such as muscle pain, sprains, and joint and muscle stiffness. Vetiver can be used to alleviate the inflammation of acne, aids in the healing of cuts, and it reduces oil build-up on the skin
Vetiver is not toxic and non-irritant and is completely safe for use on all skin types.