Love her or hate her, I'm sure you are familiar with the powerful, earthy scent of patchouli. Her name comes from the Hindi word pacholi, meaning ‘to scent’. A staple of the flower children from the 60’s, patchouli is known for her deodorizing powers. She is oh so much more than that. Patchouli works magic for your skin, digestive system, circulatory system and mood. Let’s explore this little powerhouse some more.
Patchouli is just one more aromatic member of the Lamiaceae, or mint family. She is a perennial shrub that grows 2-3 feet tall. While she loves it hot and wet, she is a bit particular. She likes it hot, but not too sunny. Dappled sunlight is where she wants to party. She likes it wet, but too much water will certainly dampen her mood. She can often be found growing in richly fertile soil next to rice paddies or in open fields.
Patchouli is native to the island region of Southeast Asia. Countries such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, New Guinea, and the Philippines enjoy her in her native habitat. She has also naturalized in parts of North East India. She grows in hardy in zone 10. Currently Indonesia produces about 90% of the patchouli essential oil in the world.
Some of the most well known essential oils come from the mint family. Basil, mint, rosemary, sage, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, and lavender are just some of patchouli's famous relatives. She has over 7,000 aromatic family members in the mint family, so this is a very pared down list.
Patchouli’s seeds are very delicate. Many end up damaged and unviable, so planting her from seed is not the easiest way to go. If you want to propagate patchouli stem cuttings from an adult plant is your best bet. This little perennial will live 2-3 years.
Patchouli produces white and purple blooms late summer to early fall. Patchouli, like many of her mint family relatives, is a very prolific grower. Her leaves can be harvested multiple times in a year. To get the essential oil out of her, the leaves and twigs are collected and bundled together. They are then allowed to ferment for a few days before being steam distilled.
Properties of Patchouli Essential Oil:
Antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiemetic, antimicrobial, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antitoxic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, cicatrisant, cytophylactic, deodorant, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, fungicide, nervine, insecticide, sedative, stomachic, and tonic
Anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, bactericidal cytophylactic, deodorant, fungicide, insecticide, sedative
Patchouli works wonders for your skin. She is a powerful anti-inflammatory. She is an excellent choice for treating conditions such as dermatitis, acne, eczema, and soothes cracked and dry skin. Infections are no match for the antimicrobial power of patchouli. She is a wonderful choice for treating skin infections such as impetigo, and especially shines when fighting fungal infections such as athlete's foot. Patchouli also has regenerative properties. This means she promotes new skin growth, helping to heal wounds. Her astringent nature also makes her ideal in minimizing the appearance of pores and wrinkles .
As the flower children of the 60’s will attest, patchouli is a potent deodorizer that will mask all sorts of scents. Her musky scent also serves as an insect repellant. Mosquitoes, bed bugs, ants, flies, moths, and fleas all stay away when Madame Patchouli is present.
Hair also loves patchouli. She is great for scalp issues all around. Whether you suffer from an oily scalp or dandruff patchouli would be a good addition to your hair care routine. Patchouli also promotes hair growth and can help combat hair loss.
Antiemetic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, stomachic, and tonic.
Patchouli is a natural diuretic. Do you struggle with water retention or cellulite? Add patchouli into your body care routine. Patchouli can also help control the appetite and improve metabolic function. She achieves this by toning the liver, stomach, and intestines. This all helps with weight loss. Patchouli can also ease symptoms of constipation and conversely as an antiemetic, vomiting.
Anti-inflammatory, cicatrisant, cytophylactic,
Patchouli helps boost circulation. This increases oxygen flow to your cells and that is never a bad thing. This helps the body retain a healthy-looking, youthful appearance. Increased circulation and blood flow is another way patchouli aids with wound healing.
Antidepressant, aphrodisiac, nervine, sedative
Patchouli is truly magical in that she is a sedative, but it has the unique property of also being somewhat stimulating. Basically she will help calm nervousness and anxiety, but won't leave you feeling drained or drugged. This is due to the nature of her sedative scent. It enhances relaxation by stimulating the release of pleasure hormones, namely serotonin, and dopamine. This improves negative moods while enhancing the feeling of relaxation. She is particularly adept at easing the nervous tension associated with recovery from addiction. Patchoulis is an aphrodisiac so truly she has a very, uh, stimulating nature. When diffused at night, patchouli can help ease insomnia.
Patchouli’s earthy scent is highly grounding. She is a wonderful plant to use in balancing emotions. She provides a safe and stable ground for us to begin diving deep into ourselves and doing shadow work. Her energy centers around love, both for self and for others. Patchouli is a powerfully protective plant. She is a big defender for peace in the home. Needless to say she is also a big promoter of passion.
Fun Facts About Patchouli
In olden times European traders would trade patchouli pound for pound for gold.
Archeologists believe that none other than the famous Pharaoh Tutankhamun, or “King Tut,” was buried with 10 gallons of Patchouli Essential Oil in his tomb.
In 1985, Mattel used patchouli oil in the plastic used to give their action figure Stinkor in the Masters of the Universe line of toys a “semi-foul” scent. For those that don’t know, Stinkor’s superpower is the ability to release a toxic odor from his body that renders his enemies immobile.
When Victorian England and India would trade cashmere shawls they were scented with patchouli to keep the moths away. The scent turned into a signature of authenticity so to speak. Without the smell of dried patchouli leaves the shawls could not be sold in England.
Patchouli is heavily used in the perfume and cosmetic industry. It is a fixative in fragrances, meaning it stabilizes the formula and helps the scent stick to your skin longer. The industry also prizes it for it’s calming, yet stimulating properties.
It is non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing, but the smell of patchouli oil may be a little persistent for some people and large doses may cause loss of appetite in some individuals.
This website is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice, and please check with your doctor before using plants if you are pregnant, using medications or have other health conditions.