Costus Root Oil Is Unique, But Not In A Good Way

Costus root oil is not popular for good reason. It smells awful!
Here’s more about the properties, benefits and uses of costus root oil.

Costus root oil: Properties, Benefits and Uses

Costus Root Oil Properties

Botanical Name

Costus or kuth has several botanical names. The most common ones are Saussurea costus and Saussurea lappa.

But you can also find Aplotaxis lappa, Aucklandia costus, Aucklandia lappa and Theodorea costus.

Color and Smell

Costus root oil has a pale yellow to brown color. And I am not a fan of its smell. I find it reminds me of a wet dog or wet fur. Awful!


The main compound here is dehydrocostus lactone. It can make up about 40% of the oil.

Other compounds in the oil include costunolide, alpha-curcumene, beta-castol, delta-elemene, alpha-selinene and spathulenol.

Benefits of Costus Root Essential Oil

Unfortunately, costus root oil is not well studied.

This 2012 study is one of the few studies that look into the benefits of the oil. It explored its insecticidal and larvicidal effects on mosquito larvae. The researchers found the oil had very strong larvicidal and insecticidal effects. And the compounds – dehydrocostus lactone and costunolide – were responsible for these effects.

Another study from 2007 found these same compounds had anti-inflammatory and anticancer activity.

And a more recent study from 2017 agreed with these benefits. It tested the compounds against breast cancer cells in vitro and proved they were anticancer.

Finally, another 2007 study compiled studies on costus root oil and its compounds. Besides the benefits mentioned above, it found the oil had calming benefits. It cited studies that showed inhaling the oil reduced pain and anxiety in women giving birth. Wow!

Uses of Costus Root Oil

While you can use this essential oil for inhaling, its scent is not the most pleasing. If you are into it, you can pair the oil with other strong, unique essential oils. So try it with patchouli, sandalwood and ylang ylang oils.

Costus root oil may irritate your skin. So use it with caution.

Finally, talk to your doctor before using this oil. This is necessary if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or under special medication.

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