Patchouli, or Pogostemon cablin, is a flowering plant in the family Lamiaceae, commonly known as the mint family. Patchouli plants grow as bush-like perennial herbs. They have straight purplish stems and can grow to be between two and three feet tall. The leaves of Patchouli plants are fuzzy, green, and have an oval shape. When exposed to higher levels of sunlight, Patchouli plants grow leaves that are small but thick and contain a high concentration of essential oil. With less sunlight, the leaves will grow larger but contain less essential oil. Patchouli plants bloom with small white flowers that are tinged with purple on the edges. The plants reach maturity in around six to seven months and can be regularly harvested at that point. Patchouli is native to islands in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. It is now commercially cultivated in many areas with tropical climates around the world, notably South America, the Caribbean Islands, Asia, and Madagascar.
In Asian countries, Patchouli has been used in folk medicine throughout history to treat issues with the hair such as dandruff and oily scalp, as well as skin irritations like dryness, acne, and eczema. It is believed that the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, “King Tut” himself, had ten gallons of Patchouli oil inside his tomb. Patchouli may have received its name from the Hindi word “pacholi,” which means “to scent.” This is believed because Patchouli essential oil was used to scent fabrics from India that were being sold and traded in the nineteenth century. It is said that the scent of Patchouli was an indicator for buyers that fabrics were authentically from Asia. Many English and French fabric and clothing makers would scent their fabric with * Patchouli in an effort to boost their sales. It is also possible that Patchouli's name comes from the ancient Tamil words “patchai" and "ellai,” which together mean “green leaf.” Patchouli became of such high value to early European traders that they would exchange one pound of the herb for one pound of gold. Patchouli has insect repelling properties that made it beneficial for protecting fabric that was traveling along trade routes to Europe.Patchouli leaves were imported through the Silk Road, reaching England in the middle of the nineteenth century. There, dried Patchouli was widely used by the aristocratic upper class in potpourri during the Victorian era. Soon after this, Patchouli was picked up by the perfumery industry. Perfume makers often use Patchouli essential oil as a fixative for more volatile notes due to its great stability. The unique musky scent of Patchouli is commonly associated with the hippie generation and its use became very widespread in the 1960s. This may have been related to the Eastern spiritual influences popular at the time.
Patchouli plants reach maturity in around six to seven months at which point they can be harvested. The leaves can also be harvested more than once per year. It is said that the few pairs of leaves at the top of each plant contain the essential oil with the strongest aroma. Patchouli leaves are often harvested during the hot part of the day by hand, gathered into bundles, and left to partially dry before extraction. Patchouli essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the plant's leaves. The resulting essential oil is thick and can range in color from yellow to a deep amber brown. Its scent can be described as musky, rich, and earthy with a slight sweetness. Patchouli is one of the few essential oils whose aroma develops and improves as the oil ages.
Benefits and Uses
The many benefits of Patchouli essential oil make it well known as a grounding and soothing oil. When used in aromatherapy, Patchouli essential oil is known to balance emotions and enhance mood. It works to reduce negative energy and emotions while increasing feelings of relaxation. It also helps to soothe anxiety and nervous tension that may lead to it. The calming properties of Patchouli oil also allow it to encourage more restful sleep and reduce insomnia. Patchouli essential oil may help to improve cognitive function and enhance concentration. This makes it widely used in meditation and spiritual practices for its ability to improve focus and clear the mind. When diluted and used topically, Patchouli essential oil can contribute to a bright and healthy complexion. It works to tighten and tone the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles for younger-looking skin. Patchouli can also balance the oil levels in the skin, both soothing dryness and reducing blemishes caused by oily skin. This can also help bring moisture to dry, chapped skin. When applied to the scalp, Patchouli essential oil can help to strengthen the hair as well as combat hair loss. It also works well to mask and eliminate body odor when used in natural deodorants. Patchouli essential oil works to increase circulation, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the growth of new skin cells which can promote faster healing of wounds and injuries. It can also relieve discomfort associated with digestive issues, improve digestion and help fight water retention. Patchouli contains anti-inflammatory properties which help to reduce fevers and ease illness-related pain. Patchouli helps to boost circulation, increasing oxygen to organs and cells, which helps to improve many metabolic functions and keep a youthful appearance.
Here are some recipes using Patchouli Essential Oil that we love...
"Grounding Meditation" Diffuser Blend
- 3 Drops of Patchouli Essential Oil
- 3 Drops of Cedarwood Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Bergamot Essential Oil
- 2 Drops of Frankincense Essential Oil
Add water to your diffuser up to the fill line. Add drops of the essential oil blend. This diffuser blend recipe is formulated for a 200ml ultrasonic diffuser. Adjust the amount according to size and directions of your diffuser.
"Insomnia, Be Gone!" Linen Spray
- 4oz Amber Glass Bottle with Spray Top
- 2oz High Percentage Alcohol
- 2oz Witch Hazel Extract
- 8 drops Patchouli Essential Oil
- 8 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 4 drops Chamomile Essential Oil
Add 2oz of high percentage alcohol to the bottle. Add the essential oils and fill the remainder of the bottle with witch hazel, leaving a little space at the top. Shake well before each use. Spray on linens before bed.
"Essence of Youth" Face Serum
- 1oz Amber Glass Bottle with Dropper Top
- 1 oz Jojoba Oil
- 5 drops Patchouli Essential Oil
- 3 drops Frankincense Essential Oil
- 2 drops Geranium Essential Oil
Add the essential oils to your bottle then fill the rest of it up with jojoba oil. Put on the dropper top and shake well to combine. After cleansing your face, apply a few drops to your hands and gently massage into the skin in circular, upward motions. Repeat daily or as desired. Store serum in a dark, cool place away from children and pets.
"Tummy Tame" Roll-On
- 10ml Amber Glass Roll-On Bottle
- ⅓ oz Sweet Almond oil
- 4 drops Patchouli Essential Oil
- 3 drops Lemongrass Essential Oil
- 2 drops Ginger Essential Oil
Add the essential oils to the roller bottle and fill the rest of the bottle up to the neck with sweet almond oil. Attach the roller top and shake well until ingredients are thoroughly combined. Roll on the abdomen and gently massage.
"Floral Passion" Solid Perfume
- 1.7oz Amber Glass Jar or Small metal tins
- 2 tablespoons Sweet Almond Oil
- 2 tablespoons Beeswax Pearls
- 10 drops Patchouli Essential Oil
- 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 5 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
- 5 drops Jasmine Absolute
Place sweet almond oil and beeswax pearls in a bowl and melt on a double boiler. Remove the bowl from heat and stir, allowing it to cool for a moment. Add essential oils and stir again. Pour the liquid into a glass jar or small metal tins. Place the lid on the container and allow the perfume to fully harden for approximately 30-45 minutes before use.