Despite its distinct smell, patchouli oil has long been popular among hippies in America and ancient cultures throughout the world.
Maybe they were onto something – and not just for its use as a natural deodorant or fragrance.
Characterized by a strong, earthy and musky aroma, part of patchouli’s bad rap from the Flower Power era stems from the fact hippies wore cheap, synthetic formulations, giving it an even more pungent smell.
The scent may still take some getting used to, but don’t let that deter you from taking advantage of its many uses and health benefits. It’s an oil high in sesquiterpenes, naturally occurring compounds that have the ability to pass the blood-brain barrier, making it effective against many diseases and good for supporting your body’s natural healing abilities.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is a large, bushy perennial and a member of the labiatae family, which includes lavender, mint and sage. Native to tropical regions of Asia, it’s now widely cultivated in China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The oil extracted from the leaves of the plant is well-known for its rich, spicy and woodsy fragrance. Coveted among early European traders, it has been used for centuries in perfumes and traditional medicine, and more recently, in incense, insect repellents, and alternative medicines.
Although it masks body odor, there is much more to this oil than its scent and hippie reputation.
Discover the many benefits:
1. In aromatherapy, patchouli oil is said to help relieve anxiety, stress and depression. Its calming effect promotes relaxation and meditation. It helps fight depression by stimulating mood-boosting hormones, including serotonin and dopamine, to uplift mood, relax tension and reduce feelings of anxiety and anger.
2. Soothes inflammation and helps fight fever and infection. As an antiphlogistic, lowers body temperature, provides relief from fever and may be useful against internal inflammation related to conditions such as arthritis and gout.
3. Antiseptic properties protect wounds and fights infection, good for cleansing skin and wound surfaces after injury, and inhibits the growth of germs, bacteria and microorganisms.
4. As a cicatrisant, patchouli oil is safe to apply on cuts and wounds, hastens the fading of scars and minimizes marks left by boils, acne, pox, and measles. Also effective for eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions.
5. Used as a natural libido booster and aphrodisiac for hundreds of years, patchouli is recommended for sexual problems and dysfunction related to impotence, low sex drive, erectile dysfunction and sexual anxiety. It works to stimulate the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone and increase sexual arousal.
6. Applied as a facial toner, it constricts pores, soothes skin and creates a protective barrier. Helps fight aging as an astringent by reducing skin irritation and helping to firm and tone skin. Strengthens gums, prevents skin from sagging and protects against wrinkles, hair loss and muscle wasting.
7. The oil’s anti-fungal properties make it useful for athlete’s foot and other fungal growths, and for hair it helps alleviate dandruff and balance oiliness. Cytophylactic properties regenerates new skin cells, increases circulation, assists in production of red blood cells and increases oxygenation of organs and cells for more healthy, youthful skin and hair.
8. An insecticide since ancient times, patchouli works as a natural bug repellent and can be used as temporary antidote or salve on insect bites. Commonly used in sprays, body lotions, fumigants, and incense or it can be mixed with water to wash clothes and bed linens. Works to fend off pesky bugs such as mosquitoes, ants, beg bugs, lice, fleas, flies and moths.
9. Tonic properties help regulate internal body functions and boost immunity; optimizes metabolic functions like digestion, absorption of nutrients and bowel regularity; tones up the nervous system, liver, stomach and intestines; and regulates the endocrinal secretions of hormones and enzymes to improve overall energy and health.
10. Acts as a diuretic by increasing frequency of urination and the quantity of urine. Helps remove excess water, unnecessary salts, and uric acid. This also helps with weight loss, lower blood pressure and removes toxins.
The long-lasting aroma of patchouli essential oil makes it popular as cologne in many cultures. Some people love the smell of patchouli, while others are irritated or repulsed by it. Strong but sweet, with a subtle hidden fruity note, it may be too overwhelming or unpleasant for some. It can be blended with other essential oils, including bergamot, clary sage, geranium, lavender and myrrh, to tone down the aroma or receive multiple benefits.