Vetiver essential oil benefits have been enjoyed by ancient tribal cultures for centuries, and learning how to use it properly can transform your life! If you’ve already begun to use and enjoy fresh, herbaceous oils like lemongrass, getting the benefits of vetiver simply must be next on your list.
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The Complex Composition of Vetiver
Vetiver is another essential oil that comes from a grass, like lemongrass and citronella. But unlike the other two, the essential oil is distilled from the roots rather than the leaves. The scent is also very different, giving us a somewhat smoky, earthy aroma rather than the lemony scents of the aforementioned plants. The root base – which is what is distilled for essential oil – is thick and matted. While growing, it can preserve soil structure, and harvested the root base is often traditionally used as a fragrant floor mat, among other varied uses. (1)
Vetiver essential oil is one of the more complex essential oils. As one analysis described,
Vetiver essential oils (VEO) are important raw ingredients used in perfume industry, entering the formula of numerous modern fragrances. Vetiver oils are considered to be among the most complex essential oils, resulting most of the time in highly coeluted chromatograms whatever the analytical technique. (2)
The complex benefits of vetiver essential oil results in a wide variety of uses, while still retaining an enjoyable fragrance that most of the perfume industry utilizes.
5 Vetiver Essential Oil Benefits
Vetiver oil uses are recommended in topical blends and dilutions, aromasticks and personal inhalers, using diffusers, and surface treatment blends for bug control (thought to do so by disguising our scent from biting insects).
Vetiver is a complex essential oil that is used to support a variety of needs, boasting a fragrance that is enjoyed by essential oils enthusiasts and the perfume industry. Inhaled and diffused applications are ideal (more on that later), as well as diluted into topical and oral blends. Here are some of the more impressive ways to use vetiver.
1. ADHD Management
Like it or not, cases of ADHD are more prominent than ever, and our kids need ways to cope and manage their symptoms in order to become productive adults. Essential oils are portable, easy to use, and can be effective for relieving symptoms of ADHD and helping kids (or adults!) to focus.
While we often think of lavender as a calming oil, one study weighed the effects of lavender, cedarwood, and vetiver oils on children with ADHD. The study was small but the results were clear: vetiver was the strongest choice. (3)
This simply study only asked parents to help their children smell the oil right from the bottle a few times each day. Off the record because it wasn’t part of the design, parents reported better attention and behavior from their children during the study period.
2. Anxiety Control
The direct effects of aromatherapy inhalation on the limbic system (responsible for reason and choices, among other things) make it a perfectly suited remedy and tool for conditions like ADHD and anxiety, which can be a trigger for ADHD and like concerns.
A 2015 rat study compared the effects of vetiver oil with diazepam, a commonly used anxiety prescription. Again, these preliminary results show vetiver to be quite effective. (4)
We’re always excited to see more research confirming actions like this, but when all you have to do is inhale the aroma to test it for yourself, what have we got to lose?
3. Lyme Prevention
Lyme disease is a painful and difficult to treat disease that spreads like wildfire in “tick season,” especially in the south. It’s hard to step outside without risking a tick bite. Some ticks carry Lyme disease from person to person, so their control is the first step in Lyme prevention and control.
To further complicate the problem, ticks have seemed to become resistant to much of our control measures.
Vetiver essential oil remains one of the substances that can still affect ticks. (5) Topical treatments as bug repellents are helpful, as well as sprays and treatments directly on surfaces where ticks may roam.
4. Bug Repellant
Ground and surface treatments with vetiver essential oil have the potential to help control termites. In a study of seven essential oils and their effects on termites, vetiver “decreased termite tunneling activity at concentrations as low as 5 micrograms/g sand.” (6)
Clove essential oil was also highly effective at both reducing tunneling and directly killing the termites.
Vetiver shows off its similarities to citronella and lemongrass in bug repelling effects. Treating vulnerable surfaces with a blended spray can be a quick, easy, non-toxic form of prevention.
5. Chemotherapy Relief
Some early testing is exploring the potential that the antioxidant levels in vetiver have to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy. This difficult route of cancer treatment is sometimes necessary but always inflicts secondary damage. Researchers seem to be on the prowl for natural ways to combat this very unnatural treatment.
In this particular study, vetiver was administered orally to mice who were also given an injection of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. It’s unclear from the study’s wording whether full vetiver essential oil was used or only an isolate but the results are interesting nonetheless. Damage to DNA, kidneys, and marrow from the toxic chemotherapy drugs were slowed compared to those mice without the oil, presumably because of its antioxidant capacity. (7)
This study should give cancer patients much hope, especially those who are taking drugs that cause toxicity! Aromatic, internal and topical use of this strong antioxidant can be added to any essential oil cancer protocol.
A Quick Word of Caution
When we start to learn about all of the wide range of uses that essential oils offer, it’s easy to want to try each of them in every way possible. Thankfully, this is neither necessary nor terribly advisable. There’s no need to try to make an essential oil do more than it is known to do.
Vetiver is one that we know to be used effectively and extensively via topical, inhaled and oral preparations. This works out beautifully, because its internal use has been questioned for toxicity. Ultimately, the verdict was that low internal doses are fine. (8) As is the case with consuming all essential oils, dosage is key; a drop or two goes a long way!