Sweet Flag (Vasambu) Medicinal Use : Best Lice Treatment at Home

Sweet flag/ Vasambu is one herb that is used extensively in home remedies here in Tamil Nadu. Any home remedy made with vasambu as a base is very very effective. Vasambu is called “Sweet flag” in English. The whole plant is used as a medicine, in fact using vasambu is part of our Tamil culture. The usage of vasambu for a person starts, when he/she is a new born itself. We tie the vasambu in the hands of newborns, so that when the baby bites into it, it will prevent the baby from falling sick.

We also use it for external applications and one such preparation is this homemade hair oil that is very effective in treating head lice. It is one of the best natural ingredient available, that is very effective in killing lice. The medicated shampoos for lice treatment available in the market are very harsh and since mostly young girls are infested with lice, it is not advisable to use it for longer durations. This sweet flag oil is a natural insecticide and it is so very gentle on the scalp.

It can be safely used without worrying about any side effects. To make this sweet flag oil, first take a long piece of sweet flag and burn it directly in the flame. Once it has completely burnt, powder it to a fine powder, in a mortar and pestle. Only if the sweet flag is completely burnt, you can powder it finely. Mix sesame oil and powdered sweet flag and start heating it in a pan. Once it starts boiling, switch off and let it cool.

Strain and your effective home made lice treatment is ready. The original recipe calls for karunthulasi extract (tulsi leaves) too. But since many won’t be able to get it and vasambu by itself is very effective, I have made it with just vasambu. First try to remove the lice completely using a lice comb/ nit comb and wash the infected person’s bed sheet and comb in hot water to prevent re infestation. Then warm this hair oil and massage it in the scalp and let it soak for an hour before washing off with mild shampoo. Try to use it at least weekly twice for some more weeks to completely get rid of lice and to prevent re infestation.

Sweet Flag (Vasambu) Medicinal Use : Best Lice Treatment at Home

1. Take a long piece of vasambu and burn it directly on the flame till it turns black.

2. Once it cools down, powder the burnt part using a mortar and pestle, to a fine powder.

3. Mix sesame oil and vasambu powder and heat it in a pan. Once the bubbles start appearing around the edges, switch off and let it cool.

5. Strain and store it in glass bottles and your effective oil for lice treatment is ready!


  • If the vasambu is not burnt properly, you will not be able to powder it finely.
  • I used unrefined sesame oil.
  • If you prefer coconut oil, then you can make it with virgin coconut oil.
  • If you prefer, you can add 1/4 cup karunthulasi juice, while heating the oil and vasambu powder and heat the oil till the moisture evaporates and the sizzling sound ceases. It will make it even more effective in treating lice.



  1. Anonymous
    April 6, 2015 / 12:06 pm

    hi Ramya,thanks for the useful post, what if we use the vasambu powder which is available in market instead of burning and making it, is there any difference between these 2 powders, let me know.regardsJothi

    • Ramya Venkateshwaran
      April 7, 2015 / 5:43 pm

      Jothi, I am sorry, I don't know about store bought vasambu powder as I have never used it even once. But in general I find powders made fresh at home are more effective than store bought powders that are made and stored for months and above all we know that it is pure if we make it at home….

  2. Anonymous
    November 26, 2015 / 8:55 am

    Hi Ramya, I will definitely try this because my 10 year old daughter has thick, long, curly hair. Last year, when she went on a school excursion, she caught lies. I have been using Mediker for almost a year now with no results. And the worst part is that I have now caught it from her. Will try to get vasambu. i need to find the Kannada name…thanks

  3. Unknown
    March 25, 2017 / 7:32 am

    Hi Ramya,Can you help with usage instructions for this ? Can this be used mildly on a daily basis ? Or should it be generously applied and washed off after a while ?Please advise. Thanks!

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