Patchouli essential oil, Pogostemon cablin (also known as patchouli, Pogostemon patchouli, puchaput, patchouli, Patchouli CO2 Extract, patcha pat or Patchouli Oil, guang huo xiang in Chinese and tamala pattra in Sanskrit. ) is a species of the mint family Labiatae.
This pale pink-white flowered plant is native to warm tropical Asia, and is currently cultivated in East and West Indies, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Mauritius, Thailand, China, West Africa, Hawaii and Vietnam. Patchouli oil is one of the top 10 Essential Oils used worldwide.The strong heavy scent of patchouli oil has been used for centuries to sooth the soul and calm emotions, in alternative medicines, insect repellants, perfumes, incense, for combating fatigue, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea and an antidote for venomous snakebites as well as insect bite relief. Patchouli essential oil also has a reputation as an aphrodisiac in India, where Patchouli oil is used in Tantric sexual practices as an anointing oil.
To some people the scent of patchouli is rich, exotic, sensual, and luxurious, to others the scent of patchouli is heavy, earthy, musty, with a woody aroma that is pungent, penetrating and with a hidden fruity note. Patchouli oil has a strong spicy, herbaceous and musky-sweet smell.
Combating Fatigue when you’re tired is usually done with coffee or sodas high in caffeine. Patchouli Oil is known to wake people up, and cause them to be alert throughout the day. One of the benefits of Patchouli Essential Oil is that one would not be ravaged by the anti-beauty effects that are caused from prolonged caffeine use. Patchouli essential oil has many claimed health benefits in herbal folk-lore and the scent is used as a supplement to reduce stress, tension, anxiety, insomnia, depression, induce calm and relaxation. This uplifting fragrance helps to soothe away everyday cares and restores a sense of well being.
China and Malaysia have a long history of using Patchouli essential oils to reduce the symptoms of colds. The calming and tranquil properties of Patchouli oil have been found to supports the nervous system in the form of a supplement.
Although there are other Pogostemons (P. commosum, P. heyneasus, P. hortensis, and P. plectranthoides) cultivated for their oils, Pogostemon cablin is the true species known for patchouli oil production.
The Principal constituents of patchouli are norpatchoulenol, patchoulol (up to 50 percent), patchoulene (similar to azulene), bulnesol, bulnese, benzoic and cinnamic aldehydes, cadinene, carvone, coerulein, eugenol, and pogostol.
Leaves are harvested several times a year, dried, and exported for distillation of the oil, although the highest quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves, distilled close to the plantation. The Oil of Patchouli is a thick, viscous, orangey-amber to brownish-yellow tinted green opaque essential oil. This is a liquid oil with a sweet, rich, herbaceous-earthy odor that improves with age. Most essential oils oxidize and diminish in aromatic and therapeutic quality over time, Patchouli Essential Oil improves with age like a fine wine.
Patchouli leaves are harvested several times a year for immediate distillation. Other processes call for a 24 hour fermentation of the leaves and yet another allows the leaves to be dried for export and later distillation. The finest, more expensive, highest quality Patchouli Oils are derived from the immediate distillation of fresh leaves.
According to Julia Lawless, Patchouli Oil Uses are diverse: Athlete’s foot acne, , chapped skin, eczema, dermatitis, frigidity, fatigue, insect repellant, hair care, mature skin, oily skin, stress.” [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 56-67.]
In addition to the therapeutic properties of patchouli being an antiviral, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiseptic, it reduces fluid retention, and is a supplement for eczema, cracked and inflamed skin, cell rejuvenation, in healing wounds, scars, used for dandruff, an aid to oily hair, and athlete’s foot. The aroma helps to relieve headaches and reduces appetite.
Patchouli is heavily used in fields of medicine, in flavoring many beverages and foods, in perfumes and modern scented industrial products such as air fresheners laundry detergents and paper towels. Patchouli oil was one of the favorite scents of used in 1960’s and 70’s to mask the odors of illegal vices.
Europeans consider Patchouli Essential oil to be a luxurious scent as patchouli was used to line the linen chests of royalty. 18th and 19th century, silk merchants from China packed their silk bolts of cloth with dried patchouli leaves to prevent moths from laying their eggs on the material while traveling to the Middle East.