Steam distilled from a grass, the finest quality Vetiver is called Bourbon vetiver and it originates from the Reunion Islands. However, it is also grown in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Java, the Seychelles, Brazil, Haiti, Japan and India, where it is called the Oil of Tranquility. That should give you an indication of how it is most often used in aromatherapy and perfumery.

Vetiver’s fragrance has been described as sweet, very heavy, woody, earthy, and reminiscent of roots and wet soil. I love the fragrance on its own but even more so as a base note in blends; it adds a richness that, for me, is unparalleled.

In addition to its earthy aroma, Vetiver has a complex chemical composition. It can easily have 150+ constituents and this, in turn, contributes to a rich synergy that gives it many of its therapeutic qualities. Vetiver is at once antiseptic, nervine, a mild rubefacient, tonic, sedative, antimicrobial, a circulatory tonic, anti-infectious, and an immunostimulant essential oil with no known contraindications.

In Ayurvedic medicine, Vetiver is used to alleviate thirst, heatstroke, fever and headaches. When applied as a liniment it relieves inflammatory disorders of the joints and skin and has been used for rheumatoid arthritis.

Vetiver, energetically, is considered cool and moist. It clears heat, nourishes, calms and uplifts. In Chinese medicine, it nourishes and supports yin Qi, which is the body’s restorative and metabolic function. Gabriel Mojay, a Traditional Chinese Medicine and aromatherapy expert, recommends using Vetiver for poor appetite, weight loss, anemia and malabsorption.

In subtle aromatherapy, Vetiver is perceived as connecting us to the earth’s energies. It is a source of vital energy and according to Fischer-Rizzi, an aromatherapist who has a naturopathy practice, it “supports all of those who have lost touch with the earth and their roots.”

Patricia Davis recommends Vetiver as protection against oversensitivity and says it may be applied to the solar plexus to prevent becoming a “psychic sponge.” Since its personality profile lists it as being grounding, centering and visionary, her comments are apropos. As a Reiki Master, I would consider this an important essential oil to use when working with others’ energies.

As for the essential oil’s chemical constituents, it can be used for the musculoskeletal system for arthritis, rheumatism and muscular pain. In skin care, it strengthens connective tissue. For the nervous system, it’s beneficial for stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression, and helps with the physical, mental and emotional burnout which results from total exhaustion.

Although we have used it in custom blends for patients, it is a staple in our Anxiety and Worry pocket-size aromatherapy inhalers.