In ancient Ayurveda, there is no dearth of medicinal herbs bequeathed with powerful healing benefits. Our country is a storehouse of plants used in traditional medical treatment. One such fragrance-laden grass from the family of Poaceae is Khas, a herb that goes by the botanical name Chrysopogon zizanioides. Also known as vetiver (implying coarse grass), it shares similar morphological traits with other fragrant grasses such as lemongrass and citronella.
Khas is primarily cultivated for essential oils and used in perfumes besides sweetened syrups (sherbet) owing to its fabulous cooling properties and aroma. An excellent powerhouse of omega fatty acids, vitamins, proteins, and minerals, it is a major active ingredient in ayurvedic medicines to treat digestive issues like constipation and digestion since it is high in dietary fibres. The decoction of its root has also been recommended to manage rheumatic pain due to its anti-inflammatory properties as well. Khas is also imbued with antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-hyperglycemic benefits.
How To Identify Khas
Most people get confused between Khas and Khus Khus, but they are completely different. Khas is a fragrant grass with a sweet aroma and is commonly used in cosmetics and syrups while Khus Khus also popularly known as poppy seeds is obtained from the opium plant. Khas or vetiver is a tall herb with leaves that are long, slender, and coarse. This grass bunch that blooms with brownish-purple flowers has a gregarious nature. It always grows in clusters and unlike most grasses that spread horizontally, the root of this plant grows downward, 2 meters to 4 meters in depth. Khas is herbaceous and it being a climate-friendly crop, relies highly on rainfall.
The leaves and roots are mostly used for fragrance-filled syrups, decoctions, and herbal infusions besides treating many health anomalies. Leaves can grow up to five meters long and ten meters wide under clear water and can very easily survive up to three months. Because the roots penetrate deep into the soil and can sustain surface water, it is known to be one of the best plants to prevent soil erosion. Therefore this multifarious grass is of great use to farmers.
Common Names Of Khas
Sanskrit: Ushira, Amrnala, Virani, Balaka, Veertara
Hindi: Khas Khas, Garara, Vettiveelu
Bengali: Venaghas, Khus Khus
Chemical Composition Of Khas
The chemical constituents present in khas plant are Vetiverol, Vetivone, Khusimone, Khusimol, Khositone, Terpenes, Benzoic Acid, Epizizianal, Vetivazulene, Prezizaene, and Beta Vetispirene. The roots of khus grass yield an essential oil mainly consisting of Sesquiterpenes, Sesquiterpenols, and Sesquiterpenes. The insecticidal, antimicrobial, herbicidal, and antioxidant activities of essential oil made from khas and its components like Zizanal and Nootkatone are well known.
Khas has been indicated for the following ayurvedic applications:
- Pachana: Relieves digestion
- Madhahara: Relieves intoxication
- Jwarahara: Useful in fever
- Trushnahara: A potential thirst quencher
- Asrajit: Useful in blood disorders and abscess
- Vishahara: Removes toxicity from the body
- Vranahara: Heals wounds quickly
- Vataghana: Useful in relieving neurological problems
- Klantihara: Relieves tiredness and fatigue
- Vaminut: Reduces acute vomiting
Health Benefits Of Khas
Different parts of this herb have been used to cure many ailments such as mouth ulcers, fever, boil, epilepsy, burns, snakebite, and scorpion sting poison. In addition to being an antidote, khas is good for removing toxins from our body and for purifying the blood. Khas water has potent antioxidant properties and enhances immunity.
Here are the following health benefits of this aromatic plant:
Reduces High Fever
The decoction prepared from its roots has antipyretic properties which are extremely helpful in reducing fever. Khas roots help to normalize the body temperature and can be applied externally and even consumed as an infusion.
Balancing Blood Sugar Levels
Khas is extremely helpful in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. The powder made from khas roots has anti-diabetic properties and its consumption helps manage diabetes by increasing insulin secretion. It also benefits the body by reducing ama which are toxic remains in the body formed due to improper digestion. Due to pachan or digestive property, khas help in aiding easy digestion.
Beneficial For Skin
Due to its Ropan (healing) and Sita (cold) properties, khas oil is good for skin problems. It can balance the activity of oil glands thereby managing oily skin and acne. It also heals cuts, inflamed and irritated skin besides also preventing the formation of stretch marks. When applied topically, it can reduce inflammation and gives a cooling effect to the affected area. It also helps heal scars and dark spots on the skin.
Augments Hair Growth
Hair fall occurs due to an aggravated Vata dosha in the body. Due to its Snigdha or oil befitting properties, essential oil made from khas controls hair fall when applied to the scalp. Khas extract acts on hair fall by balancing Vata dosha. It also promotes new hair growth besides removing excessive dryness.
Controls Chronic Vomiting
Khas has pachan (digestive) property which helps to correct indigestion and eventually control vomiting. It constitutes certain volatile oils that block the activity of unwanted chemicals which becomes an effective remedy to improve digestion and reduce nausea and vomiting.
Stress usually arrives with a host of problems such as irritability, insomnia, and depression. Khas extracts have powerful antidepressant properties that cure various early signs of mental health. Moreover, ethanolic extract in khas oil provides a calming effect and reduces acute stress.
Effect On Doshas
The doshas can negatively affect your health, energy levels, and overall wellness when they move out of balance. Because of its Vata dosha balancing activity and pleasant fragrance, khas can reduce acute anxiety levels. Khas also alleviates the symptoms of fever due to the accumulation of Ama (toxic remains in the body) and an aggravated Pitta dosha. Khas essential oil acts on hair fall by balancing Vata dosha. Overall, it has a tremendous effect on tridoshas.
The effective dose of khas when used as a medicine varies depending upon the severity of the condition and other factors such as age and corresponding health problems. Consultation with an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner is a must, however in general the following dose is safe:
Khas Powder: 1 to 2 teaspoons or as per your requirement
Khas Oil: 2 to 5 drops of this essential oil that can be applied topically
Decoction: As per recommendation
Though a safe and easy remedy for a host of problems, khas on some occasions can cause certain altered indications if taken in more than the prescribed amount. It is advisable to consult your physician before taking this powder or decoction for medication.
It is not recommended to take khas during pregnancy and can also be avoided during the lactation period. When applied topically to the skin, it is potentially safe, but the side effects might vary as in some cases it may cause allergy. It is advisable to avoid Khas during cough and cold as it might lead to the formation and accumulation of mucus in the respiratory passages due to its cold (sita) property.
Khas or vetiver is one the most versatile herbal plant with immense potential to cure various diseases. A plant is known for its ability to produce essential oil from the roots, it consists of many health and wellness benefits. It pacifies the high Pitta (fire) which causes acidity. It removes excess heat from the body and gives a cooling effect. Roots are used as a flavouring agent and provide immense relief from many health anomalies like mouth sores, skin boils, skin burns, snakebite, fever, and various headaches. Khas has been one of the vigorous remedies to reduce joint pain caused by arthritis. Due to these valuable wellness properties, khas become a natural safeguard against the development of certain conditions and effective treatment for many chronic diseases.