Patchouli

The fragrance and perfume industry uses Patchouli Essential Oil as one of their most revered ingredients for perfumes, incense, deodorants, scented oils and other products. The oil itself is also used to a major extent in cosmetic products and in the food industry where it is used as a masking agent for unpleasant tastes and smells. Patchouli is a species from the genus Pogostemon and a member of the mint family. It is a perennial bushy herb, growing up to 1-meter tall, with a sturdy and hairy stem, large, furry, fragrant leaves and white-purple flowers. The plant is also known as Patchouli, Puchaput and Tamala Pattra in Sanskrit and Guang Huo Xiang in Chinese. Patchouli Essential Oil is amber to dark orange colored, viscous, volatile liquid that has a rich, musky, sweet, herbaceous and earthy aroma that improves with age. Patchouli Essential Oil is obtained by steam distillation of the Pogostemon leaves that are dried and partially fermented before being distilled. The oil content of the leaves is usually around 0.5-1% and the main components of the oil are patchoulol (30-40%), alpha-guaiene (15-25%), alpha-bulnesene (12-20%), alpha-patchoulene (5-9%) and other minor components. Patchouli Essential Oil has antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-emetic, antimicrobial, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antitoxic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, carminative, cicatrisant, deodorant, digestive, diuretic, febrifuge, fungicidal, nervine, nervous stimulant, prophylactic, stomachic and tonic properties.

History

The plant has a long history going back centuries; Patchouli was generally used in the East to scent linen and clothes and to help prevent the spread of disease. In Japan, China and Malaysia Patchouli was used to treat colds, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and halitosis. Some cultures also used it as an antidote for poisonous snakebites. Patchouli spread across the globe during the 18th and 19th century when trading with Asia was a long-lasting process. Traders protected the silk fabrics they bought in the Orient by wrapping and packaging them with Patchouli plants since they were known for their insect and moth repelling abilities. The silks arrived to their destinations imbued with the exotic smell of Patchouli that was then associated with the Orient. The plant reached the peak of its popularity in the USA during the so called “hippy era” of the 1960s and 70s.

Geography

The Patchouli plant is native to the tropical Asian regions of Indonesia and the Philippines and today it is extensively cultivated for the production of its oil in the native regions as well as India, Malaysia, Japan, China and South America. There are also some Patchouli oil distilleries in Europe and the USA. The plant grows well in warm and tropical climates and it thrives in hot weather, though not in direct sunlight and it requires substantial amounts of water.

Skin & Body Care

Patchouli essential oil is a known remedy for acne, athlete's foot, cracked or chapped skin, weeping eczema, fungal infections, insect repellant, sores, oily skin, open pores, wounds, and wrinkles.

Hair Care

Patchouli essential oil is known to aid with dandruff, oily hair and general hair care.