Vetiver – proven benefits and uses

The scientific name of the vetiver is Chrysopogon zizanioides ( L.) Roberty. It is also known as Cuscus grass, Fragrant grass, Indian couch grass, and Vetiver grass.

Other names include

AFRICA: Khus-khus grass.
CHINESE: Xiang gen cao, Yan lan cao.
DANISH: Vetiverrod
DUTCH: Vetivergras, Akar wangie.
FRENCH: Chiendent odorant, Chiendent des Indes, Vétiver.
GERMAN: Vetivergras, Vetiverwurzel.
HINDI: Gandar, Khas khas.
ITALIAN: Gramigna indiana, Gramigna delle Indie.
KANNDA: Vetiveru
PORTUGUESE: Vetiver-da-India.
SANSKRIT: Reshira, Sugandhimula, Sugandhimuta, Ushira.
SPANISH: Zacate violeta
TAMIL: Vettiver
TELUGU: Kuruveru

Vetiver grass  is a coarse, erect, tufted perennial, growing 1 to 2 meters high. Roots are fibrous and fragrant. Leaves are arranged in two rows, about 1 meter long, 1 centimeters or less in width, and folded. Panicles are terminal, erect, purple or greenish, about 20 centimeters long; the branches are slender, whorled, spreading or ascending, 5 to 12 centimeters long. Sessile spikelets are about 4 millimeters long and muricate; the awn of the fourth glume is very short or absent.


– Widely distributed in the settled regions of the many countries.

– Commonly planted on dikes of rice paddies and on river banks to prevent erosion.

– Native of tropical Asia.

– Now pantropic.

Nutritional Constituents

– Yields an oil known as vetiver oil; also, as cuscus.

– Vetiver oil yields various substances: vetivenes, vetivenol, vetivenic acid, vetivenyl acetate and other similar compounds.

– Study of roots yielded khusimol (2) together with other sesquiterpenes, including ß-vetivenene (1), vetiselinenol (3), isovalencenol (4), vetivenic acid (5), α-vetivone (6) and β-vetivone (7). (see study)

– Study of essential oil identified 25 compounds. Major components were cedr-8-en-13-ol (12.4%), α-amorphene (7.80%), β-vatirenene (5.94%) and α-gurjunene (5.91%). (see study)

Medicinal Properties of Vetiver grass

– Root reported as cooling, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, refrigerant, tonic, stomachic.

– Studies suggest antimicrobial, repellent, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and hypoglycemic properties.

Parts used



– Oil sometimes used to flavor sherbets.

Folkloric traditional medicine benefits and uses of vetiver

– Decoction of roots used for tonic baths.

– Decoction of roots taken internally as a lithotripic – to dissolve or break kidney stones.

– Roots used for thirst, inflammation, acne, stomach irritability.

– Weak infusion of roots used for fever.

– In Ayurveda, different plant parts used for various ailments and diseases, including boils, burns, epilepsy, fever, scorpion stings, snakebites, mouth sores, headaches, lumbago, malarial fever.

– Essential oil of vetiver used in aromatherapy for relieving stress, anxiety, nervous tension, and insomnia.

– Root used as carminative, stimulant, and diaphoretic.

– Root decoction taken internally for nervous and circulatory problems. Externally, used for tonic baths, muscle pains and treating lice.

Other uses


Roots used for weaving fans, baskets, and making fragrant mats. Flower stalks are used in making mats, and occasionally, brooms. Leaves sometimes made into awnings and sunshades.


Prized for its agreeable odor, akin to that of sandal wood. Dried roots used to perfume clothes. Shavings used for filling sachet bags.


Vetiver oil is a constituent of high-grade perfumes and cosmetics. Used for making agarbattis, soaps, soft drinks, pan masala.

Phytotechnology :

A super-absorbent and deep rooted perennial grass with use for landfill rehabilitation, erosion, and leachate control. Also recommended for rehabilitation of mining areas.

Scientific proven benefits and uses of vetiver

Antihypertensive /useful in high blood pressure/  Antispasmodic/ promote smooth muscle contraction:

Study of aqueous-methanolic crude extract of A muricatus showed a cardiodepressant effect on the rate and force of spontaneous contractions. In isolated rabbit jejunal preparations, it showed a relaxation of spontaneous and high K-induced contractions, suggesting a spasmolytic effect mediated possibly through calcium channel-blockade. Phytochemical screening yielded phenols, saponins, tannins, and terpenes, which may be responsible for the cardiodepressant, vasodilator and antispasmodic effects.

Anti-Inflammatory/ reduces pain, inflammation or swelling:

Study showed that A. muricatus extract possesses anti-inflammatory property by inhibiting serotonin, histamine and prostaglandin biosynthesis.

Termite Repellent and Toxicant / Nootkatone:

Study isolated nootkatone which was found to be a significant repellent and toxicant of termites. Nootkatone is an effective repellent or toxicant either alone or as an addition to other substrates, including mulches made from vetiver grass roots or other wood products. It is non-toxic to humans and environmentally safe.

Phytoremediation of Arsenic-Contaminated Soils:

A greenhouse study evaluated the capacity of vetiver grass to accumulate arsenic from pesticide-contaminated soils. Results showed vetiver is capable of tolerating moderate levels of arsenic. High biomass, widespread root system and environmental tolerance makes it an attractive choice for remediation of soils contaminated with arsenic.

Antimicrobial / Roots:

Study of roots yielded khusimol (2) together with other sesquiterpenes (1, 3-7). Kushimol was slightly active against tested microorganisms.

Essential Oil / Anti-Inflammatory / Antioxidant:

Study of essential oil yielded 25 compounds. VZEO may suppress inflammatory responses of LPS-stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages, including NO production and cell apoptosis, by regulating expression of inflammation-related enzymes, inducible NO synthase and COX-2 and inflammatory cytokines TNF-a, interleukin-1ß and interferon-ß. The anti-inflammatory activity correlated with its antioxidant activity.

Decontamination of Irrigation Water:

Study evaluated the phytoremediation potential of Vetiver grass in decontaminating leachate from conventional agricultural irrigation. Analysis of water and leachates indicated the species significantly decreased the concentration of some chemicals such as nitrates, nitrites, and phosphates.

Anti-Diabetic / Roots:

Study evaluated C. zizanioides roots extracts in STZ-induced diabetic wistar rats. Results showed significant improved glycemic control, antioxidant and hypolipidemic properties, together with protective effect against hepatic and renal injury associated with diabetes.

Synergistic Sedative-Hypnotic Effects:

Study evaluated the sedative-hypnotic effects of two dose levels of ethanolic extract and one dose of essential oil of VZ root. Ethanolic extract and essential oil showed significant sedation and hypnosis in Swiss albino mice. Findings show comparable therapeutic efficacy with diazepam in insomina.



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