An Oily Spotlight: Vetiver

Many varieties of essential oils were unfamiliar to me when I first began implementing them into my day to day life.  Vetiver was one of those oils that I was totally unversed in, but I was drawn to it – perhaps it was the name that was initially intriguing.  It sounded somewhat exotic.  This led me to research this oil further. 

 As it turns out, Vetiver is not a widely-known oil, even though its use dates back centuries.  It is actually a grass, somewhat similar to lemongrass, and the thick, matted root base is what is steam distilled for the oil. The aroma isn’t one that most people fall in love with at first.  It has a very earthy, nutty scent with a hint of citrus in the background.  And when I say earthy, I mean some people say it smells like dirt. Now I don’t want to mislead you, because over time I have actually come to find the scent quite pleasing, but it is definitely a musky masculine scent.  It is also an extremely thick oil, so it could be challenging to get the drops to come out of the bottle.  You can roll the bottle between your hands to warm it up a bit, which could help, but I find it more expedient to remove the orifice reducer and use a glass medicine dropper to dispense the oil.  Vetiver has a very grounding quality and is used as a base note in some high end perfumes like Chanel No. 5 and White Shoulders, as its contrasting scent brings out the sweet essence of the other ingredients in the perfume.vetiver

 Vetiver’s attributes are way more versatile than simply being utilized as a base note in perfume.  It’s said to affect the nervous system, endocrine system, skin and emotions. It’s found to be very balancing emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  The health benefits of Vetiver essential oil can be attributed to its anti-inflammatory, nervine, and sedative properties.  As a nervine, it can heal the damage done to nerves from shock, fear, and stress. Vetiver can also act as a sedative that’s effective in reducing anxiety, anger, restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, high levels of stress, and panic.  From a hormonal perspective, this oil can cool hot flashes and subdue the mood swings associated with menopause and PMS.  Loaded with antioxidants and hydrating qualities, Vetiver essential oil is wonderful for the skin, whether you’re addressing puffiness, age spots, sun damage, scars or the typical signs of aging by adding it to your carrier oil or moisturizer of choice.


There was an impressive two-year case study, between 1999 – 2001 by Dr. Terry Friedman, that found Vetiver essential oil effective in treating ADHD and ADD in children.  In Dr. Friedman’s study, the children inhaled Lavender, Cedarwood and Vetiver essential oils, one at a time for 30 days each, 3 times a day and as needed.  The inhalation of the oils proved to settle the children’s brain wave patterns and improved their school performance as well as their behavior.  Lavender increased their performance by 53 percent, Cedarwood by 83 percent and Vetiver by 100 percent!  This oil is certainly one to consider if you are trying to help your child with focus.  But one of the most interesting developments has been an increasing awareness about how essential oils, Vetiver in particular, can help individuals with autism.  Application of this oil in a carrier oil to the back of the neck and/or the bottoms of the feet seems to mitigate anger, irritability and neurotic behavior, and helps to quiet an overactive mind. This is a promising prospect for parents, and more research in this area is definitely needed.


Essential oils have infinite healing properties and using them daily provides so many benefits to our health, physically and emotionally.  If you start to think of essential oils in the same way you think of food, you come to realize that it is an ongoing process.  You don’t just eat once and never eat again.  Your body needs nutritional support every day.  The same is so with essential oils, as you can use them daily for overall wellness support.  Vetiver is an excellent oil to add to your essential oil wellness kit.


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