Vetiver Essential Oil from Haiti
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Vetiver Essential Oil from Haiti
Common name: Vetiver
Other names: Vetiver oil produced in Reunion (and now also in Madagascar) is often labelled as Vetiver Bourbon.
In India, oil extracted from wild vetiver is referred to as ‘khus’, while the name ‘vetiver’ is reserved to the oil from cultivated plants. In Northern India, wild vetiver roots are often distilled in traditional copper stills giving the oil its characteristic blue colour. The aroma of the oil is different too!
Latin name: Vetiveris zizanioides,syn. Andropogonzizanioides, syn. Chrisopogon zizanioides, syn. Andropogon muricatus, syn. Phalaris zizanioides
Botanical family: Poaceae (Graminae)
Method of extraction:steam distillation
Plant part used to extract the oil:cleaned, dried, chopped roots, soaked in water just before distillation
Cultivation method: conventional farming
Area of origin: Haiti
Historical notes: Vetiver is native (endemic) to the tropical regions of India but it is now cultivated around the world. Before the WWII, Java was the biggest exporter of the essential oil. With roots growing to the depth of 3-4 meters in a year, vetiver has been found very useful in prevention of soil erosion, especially when grown on the slopes in the areas affected by monsoons and heavy rain falls. In Kerala and in Sri Lanka, one can see neat rows of vetiver grass, trimmed to just a little tuft, edging the tea plantations where it successfully protects the tea bushes from being uprooted and washed away. Vetiver also slows the water flow and increases the amount absorbed by the soil (infiltration).It is implied in soil and water decontamination treatments. Young vetiver leaves are used as animal feed. Vetiver grass has been also observed to protect the plants grown near by from certain insects.
Vetiver roots were traditionally used to reduce bacteria proliferation in water jugs and jars, method still used in Indian county side to ‘keep the water fresh’. The roots are also used to weave the blinds which are hung to shade the rooms and verandas. Water is sprayed on them blinds and as it evapourates it cools and refreshes the area, whilst filling it with a wonderful, calming vetiver aroma. In Indonesia, the roots of vetiver are widely used in the production of fragrant mats and are now often used in modern arts and crafts, e.g. in cushion covers and place mats. In the Philippines and India, the roots are woven to make fragrant-smelling fans.
The oil is known as the ‘oil of tranquillity’ – the phrase apparently originates from Sri Lanka.
The name comes from ‘vetiver’, a Tamil word meaning ‘root that is dug up’. The species name - ‘zizanioides’ –meaning ‘by the riverside’, was given by Linnaeus in 1771.
Biochemical group: sesquialcohol / sesquiterpenol
Main chemical constituents: Khusiomol, vetiselinenol (isonootkatol), cyclocopacamphan-12-ol, alpha-cadinol, alpha-vetivone (isonootkatone), beta-vetivenene, beta-eudesmol, beta-vetivone, etc.
Colour: dark brown
Aroma strength: strong
Perfumery note: base
Aroma: rich,smoky, earthy, woody, sweet, deep, warm, exotic
Traditional Aromatherapy Uses:
Traditionally in aromatherapy treatments vetiver is associated with the following therapeutic properties: anti-bacterial, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory,antimicrobial, anti-pigmentation, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anxiolytic, circulatory stimulant, deodorant,sedative, stimulant to the sympathetic nervous system, tonic
Qualified aromatherapists may use vetiver essential oil for common complaints such as:
- musculoskeletal, arthritic, rheumatic and general muscularaches and pains
- neuroendocrine and emotional issues such as fatigue, debility, neurasthenia, chronic stress related problems, anxiety, insomnia, depression, physical/mental/emotional burnout, exhaustion. Vetiver is considered to be calming, grounding but uplifting
- reproductive system problems rooted in the hormonal (oestrogen & progesterone) imbalance, menopause, hot flashes (the oil is considered to be cooling too!), PMS caused by oestrogen deficiency (depression and tendency to weepiness) and PMS caused by progesterone deficiency (depression and feeling of unworthiness)
- skin care applications to assist weakened, slack, tired skin (or any connective tissue) and for prevention and/ or minimising stretch marks
How we use it:
Inhalation / Vapourisation:
- Vapourise a couple of drops or use in an aroma inhaler for stress and stress-related issues such as anxiety, nervous tension, stress-relates issues. Try blended with lavender, geranium or bergamot.
- Vapourising a couple of drops of vetiver might also help to temporarily ease neurasthenia. Try in combination with a drop of lemon, geranium, clary sage or rosemary.
- Vapourise a couple of drops or use in an aroma inhaler for PMS or menopausal issues. Try with clary sage, geranium, lavender.
- For some arthritic/rheumatic pain relief – blend with rosemary, lavandin or Blue chamomile
- For PMS - try with geranium, clary sage or lavender.
Please, also see our How to Use Essential Oils Safely page for more information
Tisserand and Young do not indicate any contraindications when using Vetiver Essential Oil. However, they inform that it may contain isoeugenol which results in IFRA recommendations of max dermal use level (Javenese, Chinese, Brazilian and Mexican vetiver oils) of 1.5%. Tisserant and Young write that vetiver from Haiti, India, Reunion, madagascar and El Salavdor ‘are devoid of isougenol’. 😊
Reading Tisserand and Young's full profile is recommended. [Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young, 'Essential Oil Safety' (Second Edition. United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014), 325-328.]
Please, also see our How to Use Essential Oils Safely page for more information.
Research and studies:
- Modification of sleep-waking and electroencephalogram induced by vetiver essential oil inhalation.
- Vetiver Essential Oil in Cosmetics: What Is New?