Latin Name: Vetiveria zizanoides
Family: Graminaea (Poaceae)
Extraction Method: Steam distilled from the root.
Aroma: Balsamic, Warm, Earthy, Sweet, Rich and resinous.
Vetiver is a fragrant grass and the essential oil is obtained from the root. It is a very laborious process to obtain this essential oil because the roots have to be dug out of the ground, washed, dried and sliced before they can be distilled. The common name for the grass comes from it Tamil name vetiverr, meaning hatcheted up. The distillation of the vetiver roots produce a heavy, warm and earthy aroma. The smoky scent of vetiver is somewhat reminiscent of both Myrrh and Patchouli, but when diluted lemony undertones become more apparent.
Vetiver is native to the slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, and Sri Lanka but the finest quality vetiver essential oil known as “Bourbon vetiver” originates from the Reunion Islands. Large quantities of vetiver are also produced in Haiti and Java.
In India vetiver is considered a treasure because of it aromatic roots. The roots are woven into door and window screens; sometimes referred to as tatties. The wiry, fibrous roots darken the windows of homes in the burning noon of summer. Constantly doused with water, the cool, sweet scent of their vapor turns scorching winds that dehydrate into moist and balmy breezes. When the blinds are hydrated with water it revitalizes the scent of the roots and helps to clean and refresh the room. The fragrance also helps to repel insects so fans made from vetiver are cherished by women from India to Java. Vetiver placemats can be purchased online and they make excellent draw liners and can also be refreshed when washed.
Vetiver is an important perfume constituent. It provides a rich and tenacious base note characteristic that serves as a fixative for Oriental perfumes. Vetiver is perhaps more appealing in dilution. It marries very well with Sandalwood, Jasmine, Cedarwood and lavender. The vetiver of the Indian regions are most widely used for perfumery.
On an energetic level the most important action of vetiver are on the psyche. It’s Indian name means “Oil of Tranquility”. Due to its earthy quality, being extracted from the roots, it is a very grounding and stabilizing oil. An ancient remedy with Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), the roots and its essential oil are used to alleviate thirst, heatstroke, headaches and fevers. In terms of Oriental medicine vetiver is cool and moist in energy. It clears heat, calms, uplifts, nourishes and it is reflected in it actions on a psychological level. It relaxes an overheated, hyperactive mind and nurtures an insecure self-identity. The scent of vetiver is relaxing, uplifting, comforting and it releases deep fear and tension. Vetiver imbues us with the calm, reassuring strength of the Mother Earth and her deep sense of belongings.
Vetiver also posses many therapeutic qualities. Vetiver essential oil is a powerful circulatory. As an immunostimulant, it increases our ability to withstand stress without becoming ill. Vetiver eases sprains, muscular pain and liver congestion because it has a mild rubefacient effect. This oil is also known to be antispasmodic, digestive stimulant, anti-fungal and anti-infectious. Vetiver has been used to treat acne, wounds and dry skin.
Davis P. Aromatherapy an A-Z. New revised edition C.W. Daniel Company Limited, England, 1999
Keville, K and Green, M. Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide To The Healing Art, Crossing Press, Second Edition, 2009
Mojay, G. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, The Healing Arts Press edition, Limited 1999
Schnaubelt, K. Medical Aromatherapy. Healing with Essential Oils. Frog, Ltd 1999
*Please note: This information is not to replace physician advice or to be used as treatment or diagnose of a disease.
*Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/normvanthoff/