Essential Oil of the Month: Patchouli!

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Pogostemon
Species: P. cablin
Binomial name
Pogostemon cablin
  • patchouli
  • patchouly
  • pachouli

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth; also patchouly or pachouli) is a species of plant from the genus Pogostemon. It is a bushy herb of the mint (which includes lavender and sage) family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet (about 0.75 metre) in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant is native to tropical regions of Asia. The heavy and strong scent of patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes, and more recently in incense, insect repellents, and alternative medicines. The word derives from the Tamil patchai (Tamil: பச்சை) (green), ellai (Tamil: இலை) (leaf). In Assamese it is known as xukloti. Extraction of patchouli’s essential oil is by steam distillation. Patchouli is used widely in modern perfumery and modern scented industrial products such as paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners. Two important components of its essential oil are patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) Essential Oil in clear glass vial

Sometimes called “the scent of the sixties,” has a musky, earthy, exotic aroma. In Eastern cultures, it is commonly used around the house to provide general support for health and to help release negative emotions. Patchouli is most often used in aromatherapy. The dried leaves and stems are employed in traditional Chinese medicine to normalize the flow and balance of the life force known as qi (or chi).  An aromatherapy blend inspired by the traditional Chinese use can evoke a feeling of gentle clarity and inspire the harmonious flow of emotional energy. It uses oils with balancing and mildly energizing aromas. In aromatherapy patchouli is often used as a relaxant. The warmth and depth of its aroma make it comforting and relaxing. Patchouli’s relaxing attributes, coupled with its rich and exotic nature, have led to its inclusion in sensual and amorous blends, particularly appropriate for products like massage oil. For these applications patchouli combines well with ylang ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, geranium, lavender, neroli, sage, cedarwood, lemon, myrrh, vetiver and rose.

It is very beneficial for the skin, helping to reduce a wrinkled or chapped appearance and for its ability to help alleviate such issues as acne-prone conditions, eczema, inflammation, and cracked, irritated skin. It is often found in anti-aging skin care for its cell-rejuvenating properties and its ability to lessen the look of scars. Patchouli’s anti-fungal properties make it useful in treating athlete’s foot, and for hair it helps alleviate signs of dandruff and balance oiliness.

The nervous system definitely benefits from the aromatherapeutic scent of Patchouli. It helps reduce tension, insomnia and anxiety, while uplifting the mind. Its deep, rich, intoxicating aroma has also been used as an aphrodisiac. Maybe the “love children” of the 60s were on to something! . Patchouli is a general tonic that supports the digestive system and soothes occasional queasiness. It is used today to scent textiles, to help repel insects, and is used extensively in the flavoring industry. And although the undiluted aroma of Patchouli is oftentimes unpopular, when it is used in small amounts it adds depth and beauty to almost any blend. As a base note and fixative in natural perfumery, nothing beats Patchouli.

Patchouli has long been used as a moth repellent in Asia. This practice may have been responsible for its introduction to Europe in the early 1800s. At that time imported goods like silk shawls and India ink arrived redolent with the smell of patchouli in European ports. In time the presence of the aroma came to be regarded as an indicator of genuine oriental goods. Around 1844 the first shipment of dried patchouli leaves reached London and savvy (or sneaky!) local manufacturers began using the plant to scent their own versions of expensive imported goods.

Essential Oil should not be applied directly to the skin but in carrier oils, putting the oils directly on the skin is too harsh due to their concentrated form. Add a few drops of Patchouli essential oil to the carrier oil.

If you are pregnant, receiving cancer treatment,or have a weakened immune system the use of essential oils is not recommended!

While essential oil will not go rancid, carrier oils can. Store your carrier oils in a cool, dry, and dark place.


While I’ve attempted to use credible sources for information, this is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. If there is a disparity between the information presented within this blog and the advice given by your medical professional, please follow the medical professional’s advice as he/she will know you and your medical circumstances. These statements has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.


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