Patchouli belongs to the family Lamiaceae (Labiatae) and is tall, bushy herb with large aromatic leaves. It is native to tropical Asia. It is cultivated for commercial use in Asia, India, China and South America. The plant has white flowers and the leaves are hairy in texture. The plant has been widely used in Asia for many years as an incense ingredient. The leaves were used in woven materials to perfume them. Patchouli is also used as an insect repellent. (Patchouli oil)
In herbal medicine, particularly in China and Japan, patchouli is used to treat colds, headaches and digestive upsets, including vomiting.
Essential oil of patchouli is obtained by the process of steam distillation from the leaves of the plant which are previously dried and fermented. The oil is thick and viscous and is orange-amber in color. It has a distinctively sweet and earthy smell that is long-lasting and, unlike that of other essential oils, actually improves with age, although the fragrance of patchouli oil is not to everyone’s liking – some people dislike it intensely. Patchouli oil is used in the manufacture of perfumes and soaps and is an ingredient in Indian ink.
Patchouli oil has various therapeutic applications. It is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory and can be used in skin care to treat acne, oily skin and open pores as well as minor sores that are weeping and reluctant to heal. It is also beneficial in the treatment of athlete’s foot, chapped and painful skin and eczema. Patchouli is particularly beneficial to ageing skin and will also help prevent scars and stretchmarks.
When used in a massage blend, particularly in abdominal massage, or alternatively in a warm compress, patchouli can relieve constipation and combat flatulence.
In massage oil or in room vaporizers, patchouli oil is an effective room deodorizer. Used in this way, it can also be used to strengthen the spirits when exhaustion has set in and will help restore a sense of calm and determination in stressful times. The oil also has aphrodisiac properties and can benefit in particular those whose desire or sexual performance has been adversely affected by stress and fatigue.
Patchouli oil can also be used as an insect repellent.
Suitable methods of use
- Skin care
None. Patchouli oil is nontoxic, non-sensitizing and nonirritant.