What is Patchouli?
The name patchouli comes from two old Tamil words, “patchai” which means “green”, and “ellai” which means “leaf” pointing to the native land of this herb and the Tamil people of India.
In its original form, it is a bushy herb belonging to the mint family that grows to a height of 2-3 feet with leaves that grow upward and small pinkish flowers.
It grows naturally in the tropical regions of Asia and is a cultivated crop in China.
The leaves of the herb when rubbed produces a robust heavy scent that can be used in the manufacture of perfumes, incense, insect repellents and some medicines.
The oil is obtained through steam distillation of the leaves causing fermentation, or by drying the patchouli plant.
Harvesting occurs several times a year, and the stalks can be exported when dried.
There is some disagreement as to whether the best quality oil is produced when leaves are processed immediately, or after being harvested.
As a member of the Labiatae family of plants, the scientific name for Patchouli is Pogostemon Cablin.
This hearty perennial grows to about 3 feet tall and can be traced back to Malaysia and India- although it is extensively now produced in Indonesia, China, and many South American Countries.
The stalks are sturdy with fragrant leaves, and the surface of the leaves are covered with a soft fur. When in bloom, the patchouli plant features white flowers with hints of purple in the petals.
Patchouli oil is often associated with the incense used by hippies from the 60s.
In fact, it is a centuries-old herbal medicine used to induce relaxation as well as fight nausea, repel insects, treat headaches, and fight colds.
In ancient Rome, it was used as a stimulant for appetite, and early European traders were prepared to trade patchouli for an equal weight of gold.
Patchouli Oil History and Facts
Although the word “Patchouli” is probably entirely unfamiliar to the majority of people in North America or other English speaking countries, most people have probably used products that contain Patchouli.
Historically, it is known that Egypt’s King Tut requested for ten gallons of patchouli oil to be buried with him in his tomb.
Patchouli oil was as precious as gold in ancient times, and still valuable today.
These days, the oil is used as a scent in perfumes, laundry detergent, paper towels, and air fresheners.
The problem with some of the scents used today to imitate the smell of patchouli is they don’t stand up next to the intense and deep aroma of all natural patchouli oil.
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Patchouli oil has great skin healing properties that have been used for centuries by both health practitioners and women alike.
It’s ability to revitalize dry skin, as well as repair damaged skin, has made it a favorite for both homeopathic healing and a wide variety of commercial skin care products.
As inflammation from bacteria or and other antigens results in redness and burning sensations, Patchouli’s antiseptic properties make it useful in cooling the affected area and reducing the inflammation.
Skin outbreaks such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea are reduced with the use of patchouli and are less likely to have a repeated outbreak.
It also has a long history of being an effective treatment for age lines and wrinkles thanks to its strong ability to moisturize skin.
Patchouli for Eczema Treatment
Patchouli oil can reduce the itching and redness effects of an eczema condition.
Patchouli Acne Treatment and Prevention
Patchouli has been used for centuries to treat and prevent acne skin problems and is still considered a leading natural remedy thanks to its ability to balance the natural oil and moisturizing composition of human skin.
Patchouli Heal Damaged Skin
Because of its versatile nature, patchouli oil can assist in producing desired improvements in skin quality.
That means it can change damaged skin to healthier skin.
Patchouli Anti Aging
When included in many skin care products it seems to have the ability to limit skin sagging and wrinkles significantly.
Used regularly on your skin, it will encourage the growth of new skin cells to replace dead or damaged cells.
Every woman wants to have skin that remains eternally soft and youthful and thanks to patchouli oil, this can be a reality.
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Patchouli Oil Lighten Scar Tissue
An added benefit is its ability to lighten the color of scar tissue and to also reduces the amount of scar tissue one may have due to surgery or an accident.
The natural moisturizing properties of patchouli oil makes it a popular choice for reducing the damage caused by scarring, wounds and surgical procedures.
Patchouli oil was a popular cleansing treatment used during the Boer War as a means to clean wounds and aid in healing.
It also seems to have the ability to reduce dreaded lumpy cellulite.
Acting as an astringent, patchouli succeeds in reducing excess fluids in skin tissue.
Patchouli Oil for Deodorant
One of the oldest known uses of patchouli oil is as an active controller of body odor.
Patchouli Antifungal Treatment
Useful to use as a treatment for athlete’s foot and various fungal-based problems including genital area odors caused by bacteria and fungus.
Patchouli Insect Repellent
Many cultures have used patchouli oil for its useful ability to repel black flies and mosquitos. It can also be used to reduce the itching caused by bug bites.
Patchouli for Perfume
We tend to like things that smell good and adding scent to almost every kind of product we use in the home is not a new thing.
As early as the days of Napoleon Bonaparte, scented items were a hit.
One example was the patchouli-scented shawls he brought back from Egypt that were able to repel insects and protect the fabric from moths.
As with any fragrance, it may not blend well with your body chemistry.
On some people, it can smell musty, like stale basement air.
There is no synthetic substitute/chemical for patchouli oil, which increases its value and demand in the perfumery market.
Patchouli oil can be found extensively all over the perfumed world with nearly 90% of the world’s patchouli oil production being consumed by the fragrance industries.
The United States is the number one consumer of patchouli oil followed by Western European countries like France, Germany, and the UK.
It is the critical ingredient in perfumes and gives perfumes their rich, spicy, and earthy fragrance.
Patchouli can also be found as an ingredient in soaps, as well. Essentially, patchouli is considered perfume all by itself.
There aren’t any substitutes for patchouli oil because it mixes well with most other essential oils, and is considered a “base” ingredient used in the perfume industry.
Patchouli oil can be found in perfumes such as Miss Dior, Opium, Paloma, Ysatis, Picasso, and so forth.
The warm sensual and voluptuous notes are why this oil can be found useful as the perfume itself or as an ingredient in many world class perfumes.
Even after wearing patchouli fragrance for hours, you will still smell the surprising elements of the oils like a woody, cool breeze, that comes together tactfully and then seems to evoke a slight ambary tone with a soft warm and mentholated blend of an antique teak box.
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Patchouli for Dandruff
Characterized by flaking dry skin as well as an itchy scalp, it still can be an embarrassment to those that suffer from the problem. Patchouli oil has long been used as a natural dandruff treatment thanks to its ability to moisturize the skin and rejuvenate cellular structure.
Doctors believe that dandruff is caused by a variety of factors including scalp fungus which is naturally occurring in the human body.
You can make your home-made dandruff treatment by adding four drops of patchouli oil to jojoba oil and massaging it into your hair and down to your scalp.
In the morning, rinse out the treatment using baby shampoo.
Here’s why patchouli oil is a better option for dandruff control
Often in the attempt to control a dandruff problem, doctors will prescribe over the counter anti-dandruff medicated shampoos that contain a variety of medical components and chemicals including zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid or selenium sulfide.
In extreme cases, shampoos with coal tar as well as steroids may be prescribed by a physician.
As we become more aware of the harmful effects of chemicals on our bodies, many people are opting for effective natural treatments using safer and natural remedies.
Patchouli oil provides a safe and effective treatment for many causes of dandruff.
For your hair, you can add 5 drops of patchouli oil to each ounce of baby shampoo and mix thoroughly.
Use it two to three times per week as a conditioner.
You may want to consider using a few drops of patchouli oil in apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse. Leave on your hair for 5 minutes and then rinse with clean water.
Patchouli for Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy with patchouli oil involves breathing in the aroma of patchouli essential oil or absorbing it through your skin.
The purpose is to transmit messages to the part of your brain that affects or controls emotions which can influence many biological functions including breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels and immune functions.
The unique fragrance of Patchouli oil has made it a popular choice for many elements of aromatherapeutic usage.
Pure, un-aged patchouli oil can be sometimes overwhelming, but when diluted or used in small quantities, it has proven to have numerous hidden qualities.
The vital element to any aromatherapy treatment is the pure essential oil.
The concentrated essence of the patchouli oil is inhaled through various methods thereby entering the body via the millions of ultra-sensitive cells that line the nasal passage.
These then send messages straight to the brain region known as the limbic system which controls the emotions as well as the nervous system which influences many primary body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels.
Patchouli oil-rich, earthy and luxurious scent has a calming and balancing effect on emotions which can be very helpful in reducing tension and anxiety.
While its exotic and musky aroma can be stimulating, small quantities of patchouli oil will have a stimulating effect while more massive doses sedate.
There are many different ways of utilizing the aromatherapeutic properties of patchouli oil, and most of these techniques do not require any specific equipment.
Steam inhalation is an excellent way of dispersing the uplifting fragrance of patchouli.
Simply add 6-10 drops of patchouli oil to a bowl or sink of steaming water.
Place a towel over the head and inhale deeply for 10 minutes.
Relax by adding 5-10 drops of patchouli oil to a warm bath. Close the door to keep in vapors and soak for 15 minutes.
For sensitive skin, it is best to first mix the patchouli oil with a carrier oil such as almond or jojoba oil.
The same method can be used in jacuzzis and hot tubs.
Pre-scented candles are widely available or can be made by adding 3-5 drops of patchouli oil directly to wax candles.
Allow it to dry before burning. This is a very subtle but delightful way to add a fragrance to your room.
The popularity of essential oil fragrances has resurfaced in recent years.
Vaporizers or diffusers are decorative pots that are very simple to use.
Fill the top bowl with water and add 3-5 drops of patchouli oil to the surface.
The water is then heated slowly releasing the naturally therapeutic fragrance of the patchouli oil into the room.
Blend 10 drops of patchouli oil to 7 tablespoons of water into a spray bottle. Shake well then spray room as desired.
Another simple way of deodorizing a room is by adding 3-5 drops to a light bulb which will heat the oil when turned on.
Add 3-5 drops of patchouli oil to the desired carrier oil such as almond oil.
Therapeutic massage is a classic aromatherapy treatment, triggering the body’s natural healing process by stimulating the flow of blood and lymph fluid.
Often called the “sensual science” as it combines the sense of smell with the power of touch.
Patchouli oil is remarkably versatile adding depth to any blend such as clary sage, lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, and myrrh. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and should never be used undiluted directly to the skin.
Unlike most essential oils, patchouli oil aromatic quality improves with age somewhat like a fine wine.
There are no known precautions with patchouli oil when used in aromatherapy.
Other Patchouli Benefits
In Victorian Times, Patchouli was used when packing high-end cashmere shawls to prevent moths from infesting the crates the product was shipped in.
Historically silk traders from China traveling to the Middle East packed their silk cloth with dried patchouli leaves in the 18th and 19th century to prevent moths from laying eggs on the material.
Its unique smell becomes synonymous with expensive cashmere, and a shawl that didn’t smell of Patchouli was considered to be of poor quality.
To this day Patchouli is used as an active repellent for bed bug, and its dry leaves are often put in sachets between linens.
The leaves and oil of patchouli are useful for potpourri and used to give a pleasant scent to fabrics.
Because it can be taken internally, it is often blended with anise and clove as a breath sweetener in Asia and South America.
Patchouli Oil Side Effects
Generally regarded as safe, patchouli can be used as a dietary supplement for people older than six years.
Used widely as a flavor enhancer in many food products patchouli oil can be found in beverages with lower concentrations in frozen desserts, baked goods, candy, gelatine, drinks and meat products. Combined with sandalwood oil it is used in tobacco blends.
As with all essential oils, it is smart to consider any possible adverse qualities it may possess.
Fortunately, Patchouli is not known for being caustic or irritating, but you should use it with care until your skin becomes accustomed to the oil.
Because it is grown in tropical countries that may not have the strict pesticide controls we are used to today, it is wise to find out where your oil is originated from.
Also, check for the inclusion of petroleum additives that might give off harmful fumes.
Another warning is its sweet aroma possibly which can make some children think it is juice.
So it is wise to keep it in a safe place away from children.
Use it sparingly as it’s strong fragrance tends to linger much longer after use than you might enjoy.
There are a lot of patchouli benefits to list. For centuries it was used as an aphrodisiac.
Many natural health practitioners believe that the rich, earthy smell of distilled patchouli makes it an effective treatment for anxiety, depression and reducing tension.
It has also been used widely as a natural treatment for insomnia. There is additional evidence to suggest that patchouli oil can aid in constipation, as well as break down surface cellulite that causes imperfections on a person’s face.
In its various forms, it has found uses in perfume, home scents, medicine, skin care, and dietary and cleaning products.
This is largely due to that fact that it can blend easily with other fragrances including rose, geranium, cedar, lavender, myrrh, pine, and juniper.
As with any essential oil, it should be diluted rather than used directly on the skin.
If it is your first time using this or any other essential oil – do a small skin test with a few diluted drops on your body to see if you will react to the use of the oil.
Always use 100% natural essential patchouli oil to ensure that you get the best results.