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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beat the heat using Vetiver....

Plants soften the heat of summer. They create a more cooling environment as they don’t absorb and emit heat the way concrete does. And they cool us through our senses. Plants also mirror to us how much we benefit from the natural world. When it’s hot, some plants have the capacity to transmute heat and sun into something that cools and calms.Vetiver is one of these plants.

Vetiver   is a tall perennial grass that is native to India. The name translates from Tamil, one of the languages of native people, to mean “the root that is dug out”. Vetiver thrives in heat. For thousands of years vetiver has been most used for its calming and cooling attributes by all social classes of people in India. Naturally grown herbs are assumed to be more potent and effective than cultivated herbs because habitat plays an important role.

In the Colonial era, when the British found the hot summer months hard to bear, khus root fibers were woven into mats to cover doors and windows and water was sprinkled on them from outside. This emitted fragrant and kept the rooms cool until the moisture vaporized. It was a luxury that the British rulers enjoyed in the subcontinent for years. Not only the British but the well-to-do locals too used khus mats for their cooling effect.

Botanical Name (Latin): Chrysopogon zizanioides/ Vetiveria zizanioides
Family : Poaceaea (Graminae)
Common Name (English): Vetiver,Khus ,khuskhus, Cuscus etc. 
Sanskrit Name: Ushira ,Reshira, Sugandhimula
Gujarati name: Valo
Hindi names: Bala, Balah, Bena, Ganrar, Khas, Khas Khas, Khus Khus, Onei, Panni
Marathi name: Vala, Khas Khas
Rasa (Taste): madhura(sweet), tikta(bitter)
Virya (Energy): sheeta(cool)
Vipak (Post-Digestive Action): katu(pungent)
Properties (Guna ) Ruksha(dry), Laghu(light)

Used in following Gana (group of herbs)
Charaka – Chardi Nigrahana, Daha Prashamana, Angamardaprashamana, Varnya, Shukrashodana, Tiktaskandha,vamanopaga,stanyajanana.
Susrutha – Eladi, Sarivadi, PittaShamana

Effect on Doshas: -
Pitta Pacifier (due to Sheeta Virya) and Madhur rasa
Kapha Pacifier (due to Tikta rasa, Ruksha and Laghu properties).
Doshakarma : Kaphapittashamaka, Daahaprashamana, Deepana, Paachana

Part Used
Roots- Roots of plants aged 1 ½ to 2-years-old are dug up, cleaned, and set to dry in the sun.They can be used internally in the forms like root (infusion),khus powder, khus syrup.For external use vetiver essential oil (aromatherapy), vetiver root luffa ( brush) , vetiver perfume can be used.

Morphology-The vetiver grass has a gregarious habit and grows in bunches. Shoots growing from the underground crown make the plant frost- and fire-resistant, and allow it to survive heavy grazing pressure. The leaves can become up to 120–150 cm long and 0.8 cm wide. The panicles are 15–30 centimeters long and have whorled, 2.5–5.0 centimeters long branches.
The plant stems are erect and stiff. They can persist deep water flow. Under clear water, the plant can survive up to two months.The root system of vetiver is finely structured and very strong. It can grow 3–4 m deep within the first year. Vetiver can grow up to 1.5 metres high and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid; the flowers are brownish-purple
How do khus get it’s fragnance-Khus, is a type of grass that grows up to six feet high. Like all grass it has fibrous  roots that reach deep into the moist earth.Khus's mystical fragrance comes from these tiny rootlets which are filled with the sweet, deep rich fragrant undertones that remind you of precious woods and the smell of the hot earth after the first shower of rain.
Action and Uses as per Ayurveda: 
It is a cooling herb. Khus is also known to have a very calming effect on the nervous system. Because of these useful properties it is used in the treatment of insomnia, and stress relief. It also helps in calming anger.
The plant is used as anthelmintic for children. It is also used for boils, burns, epilepsy, fever, scorpion sting, snakebite, and sores in the mouth. Root extract is used for headache and toothache.
Ushira is diuretic due to Shita property and it is useful in dysuria. Sherbet of khus is given in summer to avoid burning micturation and dysuria.
Ushira is deodorant, hence useful in skin disorders. It is also used to treat fungal growths on the skin, such as ringworm.
Ushira is antipyretic; Tikta rasa is always known to be best antipyretic.Ushira is useful in burning, thirst and temperature associated with fever.
Cold infusion of vetiver and coriander is used in vommiting
Tikta rasa reduces flabbiness of muscles. It gives strength to body organs. Ushira is an antidote and also useful in tuberculosis.
Ushira is a blood purifier because of Tikta rasa. It reduces extra water from blood. It is haemostatic and cardioprotective. It is useful in epistaxis. It is used internally as well as externally in diaphoresis.
Ushira is used in cough, hiccups and bronchial asthma.
Ushira gives strength to the brain and nerves. It is useful in unconsciousnesss vertigo.
Ushira gives strength to the stomach. It reduces gastric secretion ad hence is useful in acid-peptic disease.
Ushira is a carminative, appetizer, antidipsetic, antiemetic and astringent. It is useful in loss of appetite, indigestion, anorexia; diarrhea and fever. Fruit of Bilva and usher are given in amoebic dysentery.
Khus root as infusion is used in the treatment for the following medical conditions like fever, inflammation, irritability of stomach, heavy menstrual bleeding, menopausal syndrome, urinary tract infection.It also helps to promote fertility

The decoction of Khus Powder when taken with milk and sugar at least once a day for about a week gets rid of the unpleasant body odor caused due to extreme perspiration.

In case of pain and swelling make paste of Khus Powder and apply over it. It reduces pain and swelling. It also reduces pain and swelling of wound from insect bites when applied as a paste.

When used in baths or in massages, vetiver is beneficial in the treatment of the symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism and muscular aches.

Make a paste of Khus powder and Sandal Powder and apply over the face. It clears away the pimples and improves complexion.

It has anti-inflammatory and anti-septic effects thus provide relief from inflammation in circulatory and nervous system.

Vetiver essential oil is a circulatory and endocrine gland stimulant, while having a calming effect on the mind. In other words, it stimulates and balances function, while putting the body to rest.

For  boils caused by summer heat,powder 1 cup of vetiver roots and 1 cup of Sandalwood(Santalum album)scraps and store in a bottle.Mix 1 tablespoon of this powder with water and apply on the affected areas.Allow it to remain for at least 1 hour before washing it away.

Khus  is also an important ingredient of some of the ayurvedic preparations like Ushirasava, Shadangpaniya ,Arvindasava, etc. But all these medicines should be taken by the prescription of an ayurvedic physician.
Vetiver oil
The oil is amber brown and rather thick. Its odor is described as deep, sweet, woody, smoky, earthy, amber, and balsam. The best quality oil is obtained from 18- to 24-month-old roots. The roots are dug up, cleaned, and then dried. Before the distillation, the roots are chopped and soaked in water. The distillation process can take up to 24 hours. After the distillate separates into the essential oil and hydrosol, the oil is skimmed off and allowed to age for a few months to allow some undesirable notes forming during the distillation to dissipate. The odor of vetiver develops and improves with aging.
Health Benefits of Vetiver Essential Oil
It’s essential oil is also used extensively in the perfume industries, including perfumes for the body, room fresheners, and coolers, as well as cosmetics, soaps,shampoos, oils and as a flavoring agent in beverages, sorbets, and food stuffs.
The positive effect vetiver has on the immune system is due in part to its ability to calm and cool the body. Vetiver is specifically indicated for stress and over extension emotionally and physically. This essential oil is very popular in aromatherapy and has many medicinal properties, which are described in greater detail below.
Anti-Inflammatory Properties It is also found to be an appropriate treatment for inflammation caused by sun stroke, dehydration and loo, which is the name given to very hot and dry winds prevalent during summers in the dry regions of India and neighboring countries. . It is particularly good at providing relief from inflammation in both the circulatory and nervous system.
Antiseptic Properties: In tropical countries like India and its neighbors, microbes and bacteria grow very fast due to the favorable hot and humid climates found in these regions. Then, it becomes obvious that your wounds are most likely to get sepsis in these places since there are plenty of bacteria located there. Vetiver oil efficiently stops the growth of Staphylococcus Aureus, the bacteria responsible for causing sepsis and eliminates them.
Aphrodisiac: Mixed in sorbets and beverages as a flavoring agent, this oil has an aphrodisiac effect. It also enhances the libido and arouses feelings of sexual desire. Since sex has more to do with the psychology of the brain than the physiology, a remedy for most sexual disorders like frigidity, lack of libido, and impotence.
Cicatrisant Properties: Cicatrisant agents are substances that speed up the eradication or disappearance of scars and other marks from the skin. It also promotes the growth of new tissues in the affected places which replace the dead and discolored tissues and helps achieve a uniform look. This is also useful for post delivery stretch marks for pregnant women, fat cracks, after spots left by pox, and burns.
Nervine: A tonic for the nerves is called a nervine, like the essential oil of vetiver. It takes care of the nerves and maintains their good health. It also heals the damage done to the nerves by shock, fear, and stress.Furthermore, it helps get rid of nervous disorders, afflictions, epileptic and hysteric attacks, nervous and neurotic disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, and lack of control over limbs and spasms.
Sedative: The essential oil of vetiver is a well known sedative. It sedates nervous irritations, afflictions, convulsions and emotional outbursts such as anger, anxiety, epileptic and hysteric attacks, restlessness, and nervousness. It even benefits patients that suffer from insomnia.
Tonic: The effect of a tonic on the body is quite similar to that of overhauling and servicing on vehicles. A tonic tones up every system of the body, namely the digestive, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Therefore, in a nutshell, it keeps the metabolic system in order, rejuvenates the body, gives strength and boosts immune function.
Note- This essential oil is completely safe, being a non-irritant, non-sensitizing and non-toxic substance.
Vetiver Powder
The roots are washed, dried first in shade and then in sunlight and finally powdered which can be preserved and used as and when required. The overall effect of the roots is as a coolant, hence is widely used to regulate excessive body heat caused due to ‘Pitha Dohsha’, which is characterized by symptoms like burning sensation of the body, vomiting, excessive heat, thirst and dryness of mouth, parched throat, weakness etc.
Vetiver brush / luffa/ scrubber
Use during bath to exfoliate your skin. It also helps to Balance the activity of the sebaceous oil glands,
It contains deodorizing properties and helps normalize oily skin.
It Replenishes moisture in dry and dehydrated skin. If used regularly during pregnancy, its oil prevents stretch marks. It helps to  Remove the dead skin from our body.
It can be used in circular motion with a cleansing gel, soap or on its own,it stimulates blood flow and provides a relaxing effect. Store your dry Vetiver brush in its container after use so that it keeps its fragrance for as long as possible.
Culinary Uses / Food and Flavorings
Khus essence is also used to make cooling drinks called ‘sherbet’. You can add the khus concentrate to chilled milk too.
Vetiver (Khus) is also used as a flavoring agent, usually through khus syrup. Khus syrup is made by adding khus essence to sugar, water. Khus Essence is dark green thick syrup made from the roots of khus grass (vetiver grass). The syrup is used to flavor milkshakes and yogurt drinks like lassi.
Environmental significance
Khus  is a boon for farmers ,several aspects of vetiver make it an excellent erosion control plant in warmer climates. Unlike most grasses, it does not form a horizontal mat of roots; rather, the roots grow almost exclusively downward, 2–4 m, which is deeper than some tree roots.  Hence, it is used to create boundaries for rice paddies.
While still in the soil the roots help it by absorbing water but maintaining the moisture levels in it and by absorbing toxins from chemical pesticides and fertilizers, so restoring the soil to a more healthy state.
The roots bind to the soil, therefore it cannot dislodge. Vetiver has also been used to stabilize railway cuttings/embankments in geologically challenging situations in an attempt to prevent mudslides and rockfalls,
The close-growing culms also help to block the runoff of surface water. It slows water's flow velocity and thus increases the amount absorbed by the soil (infiltration). Vetiver mulch increases water infiltration and reduces evaporation, thus protects soil moisture under hot and dry conditions. Vetiver also shows pest repellent properties.
Other uses
There are several projects in these areas which were initiated to stop soil erosion and to protect the land as well as to provide rural people with a livelihood from making items from the roots and grasses.
They make excellent fibre for making paper and are also used for growing mushrooms and as compost material.
People in India and elsewhere have long used Vetiver roots among their clothes to keep insects away.
The leaves of vetiver are a useful byproduct to feed cattle, goats, sheep and horses.
The roots of the khus plant can also be woven into sleeping mats, sandals, hats, hand fans and decorative baskets. They can be packed up in sachets to place in cupboards or when storing linen.
You can wear a hat made from khus roots, to keep your head cool. Just moisten it a bit before you step out into the sun and enjoy its lovely cool effect and perfume.Wear sandals made from khus roots for the same effect and to keep your feet cool.

You can visit this link to see what all things can be made by Vetiver.
Anybody can do this to beat the heat...
Ushira is specially recommended for the Pitta pacification i.e. in conditions of hyper perspiration, burning or hyperacidity etc. It can be used in all the forms i.e. powder form, cold infusion and hot infusion for pacifying the Pitta Dosha.
Summer is almost here, and the heat is making its presence felt gradually but steadily. In India the summer months can get extremely hot. Suddenly we start experiencing electricity or power cuts, called load shedding as the electrical supply companies cannot handle the extra load of air-conditioners and water coolers etc. there are many ways to stay cool in the summer, without really needing electric power.
Get an earthen pot called a ‘matka’ and add a bunch of khus roots to it. matkas are used to cool drinking water in India from olden times. These earthen pots are really cool they do not need any electricity or other power to start their cooling effect on water.
To my taste buds, matka cooled water tastes a lot better than water that is chilled in the refrigerator. The bunch of ‘khus’ roots in the  pot water adds a lovely flavor to the water.
Mats made by weaving vetiver roots and binding them with ropes or cords are used in India to cool rooms in a house during summer. The mats are typically hung in a doorway and kept moist by spraying with water periodically; they cool the passing air, as well as emitting a refreshing aroma.
In the hot summer months in India, sometimes a muslin sachet of vetiver roots is tossed into the earthen pot that keeps a household's drinking water cool. Like a bouquet garni, the bundle lends distinctive flavor and aroma to the water.
It is also used to thatch roofs of earthen houses and mattresses. It is also used as curtains on doors and windows, which, apart from cooling and scenting the rooms, keeps insects away. That is why its demand rises excessively during the summer, particularly in hot countries like India and its neighbors.
Vetiver is the gifts of mother earth to humankind. Like a mother’s deep embrace of her child, Vetiver represents the nurturing, regeneration and self-empowerment given freely to us by our Mother earth. Vetiver is a wise plant that increases our ability to thrive. Although it is a powerful medicine to the mind and body, it appeals to our senses to bring compassion and tolerance for others, and for ourselves.And it also holds and supports the earth to keep it strong, and help it to better support us.
In this hot summertime, we relish the plants that thrive in the heat. It is just like nectar in summer season as it alleviates all the health issues related to the summer season.

Wishing you khus filled summer !


Mann said...

Thanks for such an informative article. Can we powder the Vetiver roots at home and use it for flavoring & skin applications?

I would look forward to hear from you.


Mann said...

Thanks for such an informative article. Can we powder the Vetiver roots at home and use it for flavoring & skin applications?

I would look forward to hear from you.


Dr.Vaishali Gautam Kamat said...

Yes you can definitely do that...

Shantaram Parkhe said...

Very nice information....

Ujjwal Gupta said...

I clean my earthen pot in every 3 days. After how much time should we replace the khus roots if we put them in earthen water pot?

अरविंद जोशी said...

Fine article. I use khus to give Aroma to drinking water

Akami Ayurveda said...

Thank you so much for sharing this article.
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Vani said...

I came across through your blog. I found the valuable information about ayurveda. Thanks for sharing.
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