Sacred scents

November 2008
Essential oil of the Month: Vetiver
Kathy Padecky, Aromatherapist, HHP
Botanical Name: Vetiveria zizanoides is known as the "oil of tranquility".
It is known by other names such as Vetivert, Khus-Khus and moth root.
Why I love vetiver: I love the smell of vetiver for reasons I have
challenges articulating. Words fail to express the depth and essence of my
feelings. There is something mysterious and exotic about this fragrant
essential oil. It is one of the few oils whose earthy smell I find reassuring
and comforting. I put vetiver on my face before going to sleep every night.
I suspect the smell of vetiver helps make me feel youthful.
Aroma and scent: Vetiver's consistency is viscous. It has a warm,
amber-brown color. The scent is smoky, heavy with an earthy undertone.
Its aroma is long lasting. The earthly fragrance has spicy overtones that
provide warmth and comfort such as found on a sun-drenched day.
Tenacious, with a sense of belonging and grounding, its personality is one of
renewal, ripeness, and maturity. Vetiver is excellent for those who have
'lost touch' with something. Botanically, it is in the same family as
citronella, lemongrass and the evergreen trees or shrubs litsea cubeba.
Native to and history: Vetiver is a tall, tufted perennial grass with fibrous
aromatic roots. It grows in Indonesia, Malaysia, Ceylon, the Philippines,
Haiti, India, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Martinique.
People weave the roots into baskets and mats. Curtains or mats made
from the grass are practically waterproof when tightly woven. Many cultures
use these curtains and mats.
In Haiti, the dried grass is used to thatch roofs.
Chemistry: Vetiver is a complex essential oil with over 50 chemical
constituents. It consists of primarily of sesquiterpenols (30-42%), an
alcohol. They calm, sedate, and reduce spasms and inflammation.
Sesquiterpenones (14-22%), a ketone are calming, mildly anti-septic and a
sedative. They are helpful as decongestant, aid in digestion and encourage
wound healing. Sesquiterpenes (2-4%), a terpene are anti-inflammatory
and calming, they also remove faulty information stored in cellular memory.
Most essential oils contain some sesquiterpenes. Vetiver has the largest
amount of terpenes found in any essential oil. Lastly, it contains
sesquiterpene esters (1-2%) which are calming, adaptogenic (bring the body
back into balance) and sedative with a pleasant fragrance. There may be a
trace of carboxylic acids (0-2%) are in the production of esters which help
one relax.
Part of the plant: Vetiver is steam distilled from the roots and rootlets
(small roots). Small pieces of the roots and rootlets are initially dried and
just before distillation they rehydrate the roots with water. In perfumery, a
solvent quickly and cheaply extracts the oil from the roots.
Vetiver may help the body recover from the following: acne,
addictions, anxiety, aphrodisiac, arthritis, Attention deficit and hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), bruises, cut, dermatitis, eczema, feet (cracked soles),
headache, insect bites, libido (low), muscles (stiff and achy), nail infections,
nervous exhaustion, neuralgia, obsession, overworked, psoriasis,
rheumatism, scars, sinus issues, skin (infections, inflamed, dry or cracked),
sores, spasms, stiffness, stress, tension, thrush (oral), wounds and wrinkles.
Vetiver blends with: bergamot, black pepper, cedarwood, clary sage,
coriander, frankincense, geranium, ginger, grapefruit, jasmine, lavender,
lemon, lemongrass, neroli, orange, patchouli, rose, rosewood, sandalwood,
violet and ylang ylang
Body, Mind and Spirit Connections: Well known aromatherapist, Jan
Kusmirek, medical herbalist and lecturer states Vetiver is a hidden oil to do
with the dark recesses and the potential for life and energy. Vetiver
balances and calms the nervous system. It gives a person a sense of
grounding and connectedness. It will assist a person to reduce the use of
and ease one off the use of tranquilizers. It is a sedative for times of mental
and physical exhaustion. "It is called a calming oil and it is a reputed
panacea for stress and tension."
Vetiver is reputed to regulate hormonal secretions of progesterone. Using
vetiver during menopause helps with cope with hot flashes.
Shirley Price in her book, "Aromatherapy for Health Professionals'' states
vetiver, rosemary and Thymus vulgaris (thyme) help promote blood
circulation, and improve limb mobility after a stroke."
Dr. Terry Friedmann published an article on vetiver in the June 2002 Zia's
Essential Connection
issue "The Effects of Essential Oils on Children with
ADHD (Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder)." His findings showed
children diagnosed with ADHD are usually between the ages of six and
twelve years of age. The common treatment in our society for ADHD is a
prescription for Ritalin. An electroencephalograph (EEG) tested the brain
waves of eighteen children. The brain waves of normal children were high in
beta waves and low in theta waves during the waking hours. It was reverse
for the children diagnosed with ADHD. Six children inhaled vetiver, six
inhaled lavender and six inhaled cedarwood three times a day for 30 days.
At the end of 30 day period, they returned for retesting with the EEG. The
analysis revealed a significant improvement in the pre- and post treatment
in the group using vetiver essential oil. The improvement was a significant
32%. The treatment results showed vetiver improved the brain activity and
reduced ADHD symptoms in the children. "Similar results were found with
essential oil of cedarwood, although not as statistically significant. This lack
of significance could be the results of the relatively small number of subjects
in this study. The lavender group showed no apparent improvement after
the treatment program. Dr. Friedmann received letters from parents of the
ADHD children stating that the children's behavior improved. Teachers
observed improved behavior and with improved grades.
If you are interested in learning more about ADHD see "Treatment of
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder," New England Journal of Medicine,
Pages 780-788 J. Elia, et al, 1999, or
(August 26, 2000).
Contraindications and Precautions: When creating a lotion or blend the
scent of vetiver is quite aromatic. If used in a massage blend, limit the
amount of vetiver to 5% of the blend. Vetiver may be applied "neat" or
undiluted to the skin. There are no known contraindications for vetiver.
Essential Oil Recipes:
A Good Rose deodorant
Mix together equal quantities of baking soda (aluminum free) and Orris root
powder. Scent 1 cup of the mixture with 10 drops of rose essential oil, 10
drops of sandalwood essential oil and 5 drops of vetiver. Shake together,
sift, and let age for at least a few weeks so the fragrance and powders meld
together. Use as an underarm or foot deodorant. Apply with a powder puff.
This wonderful mixture will help prevent the bacterial degradation of
1 drop vetiver
Do you every feel overwhelmed by the emotions of people around you?
Apply one drop of vetiver, undiluted to your stomach area and rub in a
clockwise motion. It is beneficial in protecting you from absorbing other
people's "stuff." It is balancing, calming and grounding to your emotions
and body.
Nourishing vetiver
1 drop of vetiver (undiluted "neat")
Apply to the face for wrinkles or apply to the stomach to reduce stretch
marks from pregnancy or anywhere to improve the elasticity of sagging skin.
Repel moths
3-4 drops of vetiver on a cotton ball
Place the cotton ball on a closet floor to repel moths and protect clothes and
Testimonial: I had fungus under my toe nails after a season of fishing with
my brother. I alternately applied vetiver then thyme once a day to the
affected toes. The fungus under my toes nails gradually disappeared. L.B.
Quote of the month: "All people smile in the same language." Anonymous
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and
Drug Administration. Products and/or techniques mentioned are not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The information
provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis,
treatment, or prescription for any disease. The decision to use, or not use,
any of this information is the sole responsibility of the reader.
The Enchanting Art of Aromatherapy
Australasian Course StudyAromatherapy for Massage Practitioners Ingrid MartinThe Fragrant Mind The Chemistry of Essential Oils made Simple The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils Kathy Padecky, Aromatherapist, HHP


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