Patchouli (Pogostemon patchouli) is an ancient plant, known throughout the Old World. It is best known as that ever popular incense scent of the 1960's in the 'Age of Love in America', when the populace learned to either love it's scent, or hate it completely.
The oil derived from the plant leaves is often used as a scent fixative in perfumes and fragrances, as well as to mask strong odors from chemical combinations. The odor improves with age, so manufacturers of perfumes generally prefer the older oil.
Medicinal Uses of Patchouli
Patchouli leaves have been used to make an infusion to treat dysentery, diarrhea, colds without fevers, vomiting, and nausea. Fresh leaves bruised and applied to burns aid in healing. The essential oil is used externally to treat skin problems including dry and chapped skin, fungal problems, and acne, and as an aphrodisiac. In aromatherapy it is used to calm the nerves as well as to control appetite, to treat depression, stress, and lack of sexual interest. It also has been used in deodorants, to mask perspiration; of course for this application you will want to be sure you enjoy the scent. The oil as well as the leaf infusion has been used externally to treat dandruff, dermatitis, eczema, and acne.
In parts of Arabia, China, and Japan, it was believed that applying patchouli oil before and after sexual intercourse prevented venereal disease. This has not been proven nor studied, although the actions of the oil would indicate that it could be useful in killing bacteria and viruses, but I would not recommend this as a protective measure in today's society.
Patchouli's actions are typically classified as being carminative, diaphoretic, alterative, astringent, anti-emetic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory, and it has been shown to have cell-regenerating abilities.
The dried leaves are valuable in repelling insects such as moths from stored textiles as well as food pantries and bedding. Tuck the dried leaves between stored bed and table linens, under mattresses, and set among pantry shelves.
A quick and easy mixture for applying to the face to treat skin irritations and dry skin contains 3 drops of patchouli essential oil, 3 drops of rose oil, 3 drops of evening primrose oil, and 3 drops of lavender essential oil, mixed together in a tablespoon of almond or olive oil. Blend well and apply to the face before bed, wash away in the morning.
Spiritual Uses of Patchouli
Patchouli oil is a powerful worn to attract the opposite sex either by itself or mixed with other attracting essential oils. It is recognized as a sensual oil, calling love to the wearer as well as showing love of Deity, and it is believed to ward off negativity and evil. Patchouli is also burned in incenses to aid divination and clairvoyance, and is believed to attract money and prosperity.
Patchouli is a tender perennial, a native of Malaysia, that grows approximately 3 to 4 foot tall with a bushy habit. The leaves are large and furry. Cold will kill it, so try growing it as a houseplant if you enjoy its fragrance, giving you the added benefit of helping to repel insect predators from your houseplants. Patchouli prefers average to rich soil and partial shade.
The Herbal Encyclopedia - A Practical Guide to the Many Uses of Plants by Rev. Dr. Lisa Waltz, ND, DD; available in electronic form only from EarthNow.org.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies by C. Norman Shealy MD, PhD
The Art of Aromatherapy by Pamela Allardice
Aromatherapy by Patricia Davis
Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra
Herbs That Heal by Michael and Janet Weiner
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve
Copyright 2000 by Rev. Dr. Lisa Waltz, ND, DD
About the AuthorI am a nationally certified Naturopathic Doctor, certified by the American Naturopathic Medical Certification & Accreditation Board of Washington, DC., and a member of the ANMA (American Naturopathic Medical Association). I work towards teaching people preventative natural medicine and proper nutrition, while treating what ails them = an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure, especially in today's world. I have been working with medicinal herbs for over 16 years. I own and operate the Natural Wellness Center, a clinic for everyone, free of discrimination.