Poor Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin). Whenever I ask a client during their consultation what aromas they tend to prefer, 9 times out of 10 they will reply with something to the effect of “anything but Patchouli”. Where did Patchouli get this terrible rep? Is the earthy, musky, pungent aroma not pleasing to them? Perhaps. My guess is that with most cases clients associate the aroma to the flower children of the 60′s and perceive that era negatively or don’t want to be associated with a stereotype.
Patchouli became a part of the hippie culture quite innocently. The plant and its essential oil are effective moth repellents and were used in India for that purpose. Clothing from India was popular with the hippie movement – thus the obvious association. But that was years ago. It is time to re-embrace Patchouli for the amazing therapeutic oil that it is!
Patchouli essential oil is distilled from the leaves and has a large variety of Sesquiterpenes and Sesquiterpenols making it sedating, relaxing, grounding, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and a wonderful antidepressant. It can also be used in blends for skin conditions such as dryness, inflammation, scars, sores, eczema, fungus and wounds. It is destructive to bacteria and a tonic for the veins. One of my favorite aspects of the oil is that while most essential oils expire after 2-6 years, Patchouli improves with age.
A tiny bit can linger for days and because of this it is widely used in the perfumery trade. It provides a solid base for blends and if done well Patchouli can give the blend a mysterious & exotic characteristic without even making itself known.
My hope is that with the escalating interest in natural therapies the benefits of Patchouli become more important than perception and this amazing oil gets back the respect it deserves.