Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is a bushy perennial herb related to the mint family, growing to a height of about 2-3 feet, native to Southeast Asia at elevations between 3,000 and 6,000 feet with cultivated patchouli plants being capable of growing in a variety of locations. Plant blooms are white with some purple/pink tinge which originate on purplish stems and grow in both terminal and axillary spikes. To make Patchouli essential oil, select leaves are harvested 2-3 times a year, dried, then steam distilled to extract the powerfully aromatic and potent essential oil.
The scent of Patchouli came westward with traders and merchants of eastern goods, most likely due to Patchouli’s use as an insect repellent, as it was commonly used to protect carpets, rugs, and clothing from moths and other destructive insects. This exotic scent quickly became an indicator of the authenticity of goods imported from the far east. In more recent times, Patchouli essential oil became strongly interwoven in America’s 60’s and 70’s hippie counterculture as it was used to deodorize or mask other scents(2). Whether associated with exotic goods from the far east or the anti-establishment mentality of a generation, the scent of Patchouli oil has become a recognizable and symbolic scent to many people throughout history in a variety of cultures and locations.
Patchouli can be used to positively impact health and wellbeing in a multitude of ways beyond its usefulness as a repellent and deodorant. Along with its astringent, insecticidal, antibacterial and antifungal properties, modern studies have revealed several biological activities such as antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet, antithrombotic, aphrodisiac, antidepressant, antimutagenic, antiemetic, fibrinolytic and cytotoxic activities(1).
Skin and Hair Care
Whether you have dry or oily skin and hair, Patchouli essential oil is great for moisturizing and balancing the skin, hair, and scalp. It helps heal chapped skin, soothes and calms inflammation, reduces acne and dandruff and helps clear eczema. Astringent properties can reduce hair loss, help lift and tighten mature skin and reduce sagginess while minimizes the appearance of wrinkles. Patchouli can be added to your favorite products such as your conditioner, lotion, face wash, or diluted with a carrier oil, or a drop or two can be added directly to the skin.
Uplift your Spirits & Re-vamp your Love Life
This oil is commonly used in aromatherapy because of its antidepressant properties. This uplifting oil relaxes away the tension and worries many people carry with them, at times, without even being aware. Emotional distress can take its toll in many areas of life. Patchouli can help reduce stress and other emotional barriers to intimacy. For some individuals who struggle with sexual anxiety, frigidity, lack of libido or erectile dysfunctions, Patchouli can help to achieve a more rewarding intimate experience. It is good to remember, Patchouli has a powerful scent, and often just a drop or two of this powerfully aromatic oil can be diffused to positively impact an entire room.
Patchouli essential oil has antiseptic properties and may reduce the chance of infection of minor cuts and scrapes. It is an excellent option to facilitate speedy healing and diminish the appearance of scars, including those left by acne. Because patchouli, unlike most essential oils, improves with age, it makes a great addition to first-aid kits that may sit somewhat unused for a period of time between uses. Also, because of its antifungal activity(and deodorizing capabilities), Patchouli is a popular choice for preventing or healing athlete’s foot.
Reduce Inflammation – A Major Cause of Disease
As an anti-inflammatory, Patchouli essential oil has the ability to soothe and calm inflammation throughout the body. It could be used to address inflammation associated with arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoarthritis, gout, and others. Other sources may benefit as well, such as short-term inflammation caused by sprains or inflammation around mild cuts, infections, or scrapes.
Insect Bite Relief & Repellent
Patchouli makes an excellent insect repellent and has been used for this purpose for hundreds of years, perhaps longer. To apply topically, just a drop or two added to your preferred carrier oil is all that’s needed, though some people prefer more, and some choose not to dilute Patchouli. To help prevent moths or other destructive insects from destroying stored clothing or other keepsakes, a cotton ball or two soaked with several drops of Patchouli oil can be added to the chest/container. Since patchouli is an oil, you may want to make sure the cotton ball does not come into direct contact with material that can be stained with oil.
To provide comfort and reduce the likelihood of infection from insect bites and stings, a drop of Patchouli can be rubbed into the affected area. This may help reduce inflammation and soreness and help the insect bites and/or sting heal up more quickly.
Hazards: Drug Interaction; may inhibit blood clotting.
Cautions (oral): Anticoagulant medication, major surgery, peptic ulcer, hemophilia, other bleeding disorders(3).
Our Recommendations: If pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have liver or kidney dysfunction, consult your healthcare practitioner before use. Avoid eyes, mucous membranes, and sensitive skin. Keep out of reach of children.
If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (If it is not already diluted, dilute with a carrier oil).
Store in a covered or dark, airtight container in the refrigerator or cool area for longest shelf life.
1) Swammy M.K. & Sinniah U.R., (2015) A Comprehensive Review on the Phytochemical Constituents and Pharmacological Activities of Pogostemon cablin Benth.: An Aromatic Medicinal Plant of Industrial Importance. Molecules. 12;20(5):8521-47. doi: 10.3390/molecules20058521.
2) Cech, M.R. (2016) Patchouli’s history and uses. Retrieved from http://www.incensewarehouse.com/Patchoulis-History-and-Use_ep_25-1.html
3) Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.