The Uses and Properties of Patchouli in Aromatherapy
Patchouli (pogostemon cablin) originated from Malaysia but has been used traditionally by a number of Asian countries; it was used to scent clothes and laundry, in the belief it would help prevent disease. It has also been used in the treatment of nausea, headaches, colds, abdominal pain and diarrhea. In traditional Chinese Medicine, the dried leaves and stems of Patchouli are used to normalize the flow and balance of ‘chi’.
Patchouli has even been used to treat poisonous snake bites in Malaysia and Japan. Today, Patchouli is cultivated in Malaysia as well as China, India, the West Indies and South America; the USA and Europe distill its dried leaves to make the essential oil. The leaves are often fermented to weaken the leaf cell walls to produce a better yield.
Use of Patchouli in Perfumery
Patchouli is a ‘heavy’ oil and is considered to be a base note in aromatherapy; some say it is an aphrodisiac and it is used frequently in perfume and cosmetic applications. It has a rich, earthy aroma and blends well with other ‘oriental’ aromatherapy oils, as well as Rose, Bergamot and Lavender. The oil is said to mature with age and it is either profoundly liked or disliked by people, due to its tendency to linger.
Patchouli was introduced to Europe in the early 1800’s; the exotic aromatic oil was imported with silk shawls and Indian ink. It was then used as a fixative in exclusive perfumes and cosmetics creating the industry of Patchouli farming and distillation in Asia which is still thriving today. Patchouli gained further popularity in the 1960s as incense became part of popular culture.
Uses of Patchouli Oil in Aromatherapy
Patchouli is a good essential oil to use in skin care and can help with acne, dermatitis, eczema, oily skin, sores, wounds, scar tissue and wrinkles. It is also used in the treatment of depression, stress and other nervous disorders. Other uses include use as an insect repellent, help with menopausal sweating and varicose veins. It can also be used as a masking agent for unpleasant tastes and smells.
Patchouli’s properties include being antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, digestive, bactericidal, carminative, anti-inflammatory and a tonic. The chemical element of patchoulene, present in the oil, is very similar to that of azulene found in Chamomile and presents the same anti-inflammatory properties. The properties of Patchouli are versatile in that the oil can be sedative at a low dose or stimulating at a higher dose.
Caddy, Rosemary 1997 Essential Oils in Color UK:Amberwood Publishing Ltd
Davis, Patricia 2005 Aromatherapy An A-Z London:Vermilion
Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils London: Element