Vetiver/Khus Khus (Vetiveria Zizanioides) Information and Uses

Khus grass is known by many names such as Khas Khas, Khus, Vetiver and Usheer/Usira (Ayurveda). In India, this grass is found throughout the plains, lower hills and on the riverbanks and in rich marshy soil. It is cultivated in the North Indian states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab and in the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Khus grass has variety of uses from household to therapeutic. In some parts of India, the roots are used make curtains or screens. During summer season, these curtains were hanged on doors, windows and drenched with water to get cool air. The dried stem of grass is used to make brooms. The dried plant is also used to make roofs of Kutcha houses. Khas essence is added for flavouring syrups, sherbets and summer drinks.

Khas medicinal uses

General Information

Mainly the roots are used for medicinal purposes. These roots are aromatic and has sedative effect on nervous system. The roots are used to treat intestinal parasites, fever, skin diseases and poisonous stings. Vetiver oil is obtained from roots of plant. It is used for flavouring Khus Sharbat and in making of cosmetics, perfumes, soaps etc.

Scientific name: Vetiveria zizanioides(Linn.) Nash Synonyms- Anatherum zizanioides (L.) Hitchc. & Chase, Andropogon muricatus Retz., Andropogonodoratus Steud., Andropogon squarrosus auct., Andropogon zizanioides (L.) Urb., Phalaris zizanioides L.

Family: Poaceae

Vernacular name

Hindi, Bengali: Khas, Khas-Khas, Khus-Khus, Khus

Gujarati: Valo

Marathi: Vala

Telugu: Kuruveeru, Vettiveellu, Vettiveerum

Kannada: Vattiveeru, Laamancha, Kaddu, Karidappasajje Hullu

Malyalam: Ramaccham, Vettiveru, Lamajja, Ramacham

Oriya: Ushira, Benachera

Punjabi: Panni, Khas

Tamil: Vetiver, Vilamichaver

Telugu: Vetivelu, Vettiveru

Urdu: Khas

Ayurvedic name: Ushira, Reshira, Sugandhimula

Habitat: river banks and in rich marshy soil.

Distribution: India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh;from Southwest Asia to tropical Africa.

Dose of roots as per Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia of India: 3-6 g. of the drug in powder form for infusion.

Ayurvedic Formulations containing Vetiver: Balarishtha, Arvindasava, Puga Khand, Sarivadyasava, Ushirasava, Yograj Guggulu etc.

Plant description

Dense perennial grass up to 2 m tall;Roots- fibrous aromatic rhizomes adventitious, Clusters of wiry roots up to 2 mm in diameter, minute, longitudinally grooved;colour varies from cream, grey or light yellow to brown;fracture, short and splintery;odour, strong aromatic;taste, slightly bitter.;leaves- narrow, erect, keeled with scabrid margins;inflorescence is a panicle, up to 15-45 cm long of numerous slender racemes in whorls on a central axis;spikelets are grey to purplish, 4-6 mm long, in pairs, one sessile the other pedicelled;2-flowered;the lower floret is reduced to a lemma, upper bisexual in sessile, male in the pedicelled spikelet;glumes are armed with stout, tubercle-based spines, lemmas awnless, palea minute.Plant grows well in rich and well-drained sandy loamy soil.

Important Pharmalogical activities

Some important medicinal properties that should be known before using Vetiver are listed below:-

  • Abortifacient or causes abortion/miscarriage
  • Reduces fever, expels gas
  • Increases flow of blood in pelvic region, increases menstrual flow
  • Stimulates urine production and bresks stone
  • Tonic

Medicinal Uses Of Khus/Vetiver

Vetiver of Khus grass roots have cooling, blood purifying, digestive, carminative, stomachic, constipating, haematinic, expectorant, ant-ispasmodic, anti-asthmatic, anti-gout, anthelmentic, anti-microbial and diuretic properties. Some of the traditional medicinal of vetiver plant are lited below:-

Khus grass roots are ground to make paste. This paste is applied externally on poisonous stings (like scorpion sting), snakebite, and burn injuries. The topical application of paste is also useful in sprain, joint pain, gout, headaches.

  1. The root decoction has tonic properties and used to cure weakness. In high fever root decoction is given to reduce fever due to cooling nature of roots.
  2. The decoction of stem is given in urinary tract infections.
  3. The leaves juice gives relief in parasitic infestation on oral intake.
  4. The root tea is useful remedy for tequila hangover.
  5. In early stage of cataract, a medicated ghee, prepared from roots of Khas/vetiver is given twice a day in dose of 12-24 grams with turmeric.

Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects of Vetiver/ Khus grass

Vetiver has abortifacient, emmenagogue, and uterotonic (induce contraction or greater tonicity of the uterus;Uterotonics are used both to induce labor, and to reduce postpartum haemorrhage) properties. So its use is contraindicated in pregnancy. It is not suitable for babies and children under twelve years.

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