Medical Reviewer: Dr Surabhi Rawat
Ever heard of Khus? Khus is widely used in the tropical regions as the nectar of the summer season due to its amazing cooling ability. You’ll be amazed to know that it is much more than a coolant and can help you in curing a number of disorders.
It is known by different names like Vetiver in English, Khus in Hindi and Ushira in Sanskrit. The botanical name of the grass is Chrysopogon zizanioides. It finds a mention in the major ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Bhavaprakash Nighantu.
Anatomy and Distribution
Vetiver belonging to the family Poaceae is a perennial bunchgrass or tussock grass. Growing in clumps, it can reach up to the height of 3 m. The leaves are long and thin and the flowers are brownish-purple in colour. It is a grass of the tropical region and grows majorly in India, Haiti, Reunion Islands and Indonesia. The grass is frost and fire-resistant and is able to tolerate extreme climate. It does not produce seeds but grows with the help of propagules.
Ushira: Uses and Properties
Ushira is one of the major herbs that finds mention in the Ayurveda. Apart from its innumerable uses as a medicine, it has various other uses like:
- Vetiver as a soil binder: The Vetiver plant can be grown in areas prone to soil erosion as it has thick adventitious roots which can help in binding the soil and preventing soil erosion. It can even be grown on slopes to prevent mudslides. Because of its vast root system, Vetiver also helps in increasing groundwater levels. Due to Vetiver’s tolerance to heavy metals, it can even treat groundwater polluted by heavy metals.
- An insecticide: No one would want their furniture or books to be eaten by termites. Vetiver oil can help keep termites at bay. Either apply it on all the areas you want to keep protected or even leaving a bottle of Vetiver oil open is enough to scare away the termites due to its strong aroma.
- People in Bihar and West Bengal use the extract of the root of the Vetiver plant to treat insect bites.
- The roots of the Vetiver plant are used as flavouring agents in different foods.
- Vetiver is used as an ingredient in a number of ayurvedic formulations like Kumkumadi Oil and Yograj Guggulu.
- It is a major constituent of many cosmetic products and perfumes.
The medicinal properties of Ushira are:
- Anti asthmatic
- Anti helminthic
- Nerve relaxant
Ayurvedic Properties or Gunadharma of Ushira
- Physical property (Guna) – light and dry
- Taste (Rasa) – sweet and bitter
- Potency (Veerya) – shita or cool
- Conversion after digestion (Vipaka) – pungent after digestion
- Effect on doshas – balances Vata and Pitta doshas
Charaka in Charaka Samhita categorises Ushira as:
- Tikta Skandha – a group of bitter-tasting herbs
- Varnya – herbs helpful in improving complexion
- Daha Prasamana – herbs that relieve the burning sensation
- Shukrasodhana – herbs that improve sperm quality
- Stanyajanana – herbs that stimulate lactation
- Angamardaprasamana – herbs that help in relieving body aches
Amazing Benefits Of Khus
Vetiver For Better Digestive Health
Poor digestion is the cause of many problems in the body. When you are constipated, there is fatigue, tiredness and headache that accompany it. Similar is the case with other disorders of the stomach. Vetiver consumption can help in maintaining a normal digestive system functioning. It can help in curing acidity, belching as well as burning sensation. In summer seasons, a cool drink is made out of Vetiver roots which not only cools down the body but also helps in providing relief from diarrhoea, indigestion and fever.
A Healthy And Glowing Skin
If you are looking for products that can give you healthy and glowing skin, stop! Vetiver usage on your skin can give you the kind of skin you might have desired from a long time. Apart from enhancing beauty, Vetiver also helps in the treatment of a number of skin disorders like scars, pigmentation as well as acne and pimples due to its cicatrisant properties. This is why Vetiver essential oil is used in a number of cosmetic products. It is due to the antioxidant properties of Vetiver that it can keep signs of premature ageing like wrinkles at bay and even keep the amount of melanin balanced.
Suggested Remedy: In case you are unable to find Khus essential oil, don’t worry because there’s a remedy for acne and pimples which does not need it. If you are suffering from an acne breakout, mix one teaspoon sandalwood powder with one fourth teaspoon Ushira powder. Add the required amount of rosewater to create a paste. Apply this mix regularly as a face mask for quick results. This paste can also be applied on rashes and boils.
Ushira is a cool herb and it is its cooling effect which gives it its anti-inflammatory property. It has the ability to soothe all types of inflammations, but it works best on inflammations related to circulatory and nervous systems. These include sunstroke and dehydration which are both extremely dangerous. They usually occur together and can even cause death. It is recommended to drink a mango-khus sharbat when affected by sunstroke.
Works On Wounds
When affected by a wound, insect bite or rashes; use Vetiver. Its antiseptic property ensures that there is no buildup of bacteria or other pathogens on open wounds. In fact, Vetiver is blessed with a very special healing property. When applied on wounds, it gives impetus to the process of formation of new tissues. This means that the wounds fill up much more quickly and surprisingly they do not even leave unwanted scars. This is one of the reasons why Vetiver oil is applied in different situations like pregnancy stretch marks, allergies and even burns.
Vetiver As An Antioxidant
Antioxidant substances are those substances which help in reducing the buildup of oxidative stress in the body by washing away the free radicals that accumulate inside the body. These free radicals are quite dangerous as they can lead to the formation of malignant tumours which take the form of cancer. Vetiver is packed with a number of antioxidant elements and keeps the body free of free radicals.
Vetiver is a ‘nervine’; which means a tonic for nerves. It can help in easing out nervous system disorders by strengthening the neural connections. Vetiver can be helpful in providing relief from epilepsy, hysteria and even Parkinson’s disease. Being a powerful nerve tonic, Vetiver also helps in relieving the buildup of stress and anxiety. It is an amazing calmness inducing herb. Vetiver contains compounds like vetiselinenol, vetivenene, khusimol, khusimone and alpha- and beta-vetivone. These compounds have antioxidative, anxiolytic and neuroprotective effects which make Vetiver a potent herb to cure anxiety, depression and even dementia. This is the reason it is also used in naturotherapy. So in case you encounter an emotional outburst or are feeling very low, pop in some Vetiver and see the effects for yourself.
For Better Sexual Health
People suffering from sexual debility should know that there might be nothing wrong in your physiology but psychology. This means that at times the brain might not be able to send signals correctly which leads to poor libido. Ushira which is used to make cool beverages in the summer season can help improve your libido. Since Vetiver is a nerve tonic, it strengthens the neural connections and being a calming agent too, it significantly decreases the production of cortisol which is responsible for creating stress in the body. Further, it stimulates the brain to secrete sex hormones. Vetiver is equally helpful in males and females alike.
Problems Of The Urinary Tract
Urinary tract problems are especially prevalent in females because their urinary tract is quite narrow and provides an easy passage for the pathogens to enter deep inside and cause infection. Vetiver has amazing anti-inflammatory properties and it can help in reducing the inflammation of the inner layer of the urethra, bladder or urinary tract.
Ushira For A Sound Sleep
A number of sleeping disorders plague many people’s lives. Sleeping disorders like insomnia and apnea are quite perilous and can wreak havoc in a person’s life. Caused due to the malfunctioning of the respiratory system or central or peripheral nervous system, these disorders result in loss of sleep which means the person continuously feels tired and fatigued. They can even cause malfunctioning of other organs as sleep is important for the smooth functioning of the organs of the body. If you are affected with any sleep disorder, you must consider using Vetiver. Its regular usage can help in changing your breathing patterns and reducing snoring by activating the olfactory centres in the brain. Being a sedative, Vetiver also calms the nervous system and helps in inducing deep sleep.
- A tonic is any substance which has the ability to rejuvenate the body, improve the energy levels and boost immunity. The cool Vetiver can do this all if used regularly.
- Vetiver powder is beneficial in the treatment of respiratory disorders like bronchitis and cough. It can be used as a powder or even its smoke is quite beneficial.
- Being anti-inflammatory in nature, Vetiver can also be useful in the treatment of joint-related disorders like arthritis and rheumatism. It is also helpful in curing any kind of muscular cramps.
- Vetiver oil can help in improving cognition and treating Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The recommended general dosage of Ushira is:
- As a powder – 3 to 6 grams
- As decoction – 50 to 100 ml
- As an aqua cold infusion – 50 ml
It should be consumed along with plain cool water after meals twice a day. But it also depends on the disorder which is to be cured according to which the dose may vary.
DIY Vetiver Recipes
Making your own scent
Vetiver along with being a coolant has an amazing aroma and you’d be surprised to know that you can easily make your very own scent at home in no time.
- In a bowl, take some distilled water.
- Add about 20 drops of Jasmine essential oil (or any other whose smell you like the most) and 10 drops of Vetiver essential oil.
- Now all you need to do is to transfer this mix to a spray bottle and your cologne is ready!
The Vetiver Hair Rinse
Vetiver is not only good for your skin but can also give you shiny strong hair.
Making the Vetiver Hair rinse:
- In a large bowl add water and soak Vetiver roots in this water. Keep it soaked for as long as you can.
- About an hour before you wish to wash your hair, add 2-3 lemon slices in the water.
- Strain it and wash your hair with it.
Side Effects and Precautions
If taken in prescribed amounts, there are no known side effects of Vetiver. However, it is likely unsafe for pregnant and lactating women. It can cause miscarriage. If taken orally, it is always recommended to consult a medical practitioner to avoid any interactions.