I love the sweet earthy aroma of patchouli oil. While I am not a big fan of the oil on its own, I always find room for patchouli oil in my blends.
It is the most heavenly base note! Being such a “yang” energy person I find patchouli too grounding – drawing all my energy down to the earth. Valerie Ann Worwood best describes patchouli;
“Patchouli reminds us that sitting quietly under a tree is good if there is a purpose in it – the purpose of knowing and appreciating. Sitting under a tree represents the contemplation of what we can do for ourselves and others in the way of caring.”
Perhaps Valerie is correct – I need more quiet time and sitting under a tree. It is the perfect way to balance and reconnect ourselves and nature.
Method of extraction
Weiss says that fresh patchouli leaves should not be used for distillation of patchouli oil as the distillation process does not rupture the cells within the leaf. The leaf is dried or lightly fermented allowing the leaf cell structure to become more permeable, liberating the oil. However it has also been noted that fermentation does not improve the yield of the oil but may contribute to an unpleasant aroma in the oil.
Traditionally patchouli oil is distilled in stills made of iron. It is known that as the iron oxidises it will leach into the oil, contributing to the slightly darker colour. Research has shown that this should not adversely affect the quality of the oil. However the perfume industry considers the colouring undesirable and redistills the oil to remove the iron content.
Country of origin
Patchouli is a native of the tropic regions of Asia and is now cultivated in Indonesia, India, Malaysia, China and Vietnam. Perfect Potion’s certified organic patchouli oil is sourced from Sri Lanka.
Patchouli oil is usually a viscous, dark or orange brown liquid with a distinctive rich, sweet-herbaceous, spicy and earthy aroma.
In TCM and Kanpo medicine the herb is used to treat colds, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and halitosis. The patchouli herb is referred to as Huo Xiang. It is used to harmonise the middle burner (digestion) and releases the exterior – wind-damp-cold and summer heat.
Dried patchouli leaves were traditionally used to ward off moths from carpets and fine woven goods such as shawls and jackets. This is a practice which dates back to the Victorian period.
While the oil is extensively used in perfumery, its unique flavour and odour means that patchouli oil is often used to flavour foods and beverages. I recall challenging the Japanese Health Ministry in 2008 when they had just passed a new regulation banning patchouli oil in cosmetics. Certainly I would have understood the need to do this if patchouli presented any toxicology problems. I argued that patchouli oil is one of the safest essential oils in aromatherapy and I also pointed out that many popular beverages contain patchouli oil as a flavouring, so if they were going to ban patchouli oil from use in cosmetics they had also better ban it as a flavouring agent in many popular commercial beverages. They realised it was not a good idea to ban patchouli from use in skincare or aromatherapy products.
You may be shocked to know that essential oils are also used to flavour cigarettes. Patchouli oil is often used as a flavouring agent in cigarettes.
Weiss, Mojay and Lawless say that patchouli oil can be used as an antidote to snake bite. I would not suggest for a second that you try this. Australia has some of the most venomous snakes in the world so I doubt that patchouli oil would act as an antidote!
Patchouli oil is very complex- over 60 constituents have been detected. It is rich in sesquiterpenes which accounts for the oil’s excellent anti-inflammatory properties.
The typical constituents found in patchouli oil include – patchouli alcohol (30 – 35%), α & β – guaiene (2-15%), α-patchoulene (3-55%), pogostol (2%), and traces of valencene, elemol and farnesol.
Clinical studies have also confirmed that patchouli alcohol has anti-inflammatory properties.
Antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, anti-microbial, astringent, cicatrizant, deodorant, fungicidal, nervine, sedative.
There are many reported aromatherapy uses for patchouli such as;
- Nervous system – nervous tension, stress related conditions, depression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
- Skin care – the rejuvenating properties make it useful for mature skin and in blends for healing scars, while its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful in blends for eczema, inflammation, cracked, chapped and irritated skin.
Mojay says that patchouli oil calms the mind when it is stimulated with overthinking and worry.
“It is good for those who, due to excessive mental activity and nervous strain, feel “out of touch” with their body and their sensuality.”
Worwood says that patchouli personality types are well balanced and grounded. She says there is an elderly quality about them. She say “Patchoulis are born aged forty!”
Using the Myers Briggs Personality types, I would describe the patchouli oil personality as an INTJ – Introvert, Intuition, Thinking and Judging type personality.
Patchouli personalities perfectly epitomise the introvert characteristics. According to Valerie Ann Worwood;
“Patchoulis do not have a lot of friends, nor do they encourage the family to invade their personal territory, … being perfectly happy on their own and quite capable of seeking out the company of others when desired.”
They are very responsible and dependable. They can be people of very few words and tend to be private. They are usually punctual, precise and they have the ability to concentrate and are difficult to distract.
INTJ’s have a clear vision of how things ought to be and are constantly seeking to improve themselves, others and everything around them. They have a strong need for autonomy and are highly independent.
Other characteristics include:
- they are modest, unassuming and down-to earth
- they can make quick critical judgements of others
- they prefer to work on their own and dislike distractions
- they can be overly detail–oriented, but are devoted hard workers.
Davis says that Patchouli oil is recommended for “dreamers” and people who feel detached from their bodies. In other words it is beneficial for people who are on a spiritual path and are focusing on their mental psychic experiences to the detriment of their physical wellbeing.
Patchouli oil’s grounding qualities make it perfect for grounding the Base chakra. Loughran and Bull say that it also spiritualises sexuality. Facilitating enjoyment of the senses and awakening creativity. This helps to open and balance the Sacral chakra.
Mojay says that patchouli oil’s most valuable therapeutic use is mainly energetic and psychological. Patchouli’s earthy aroma corresponds to the Earth element. According to the principles of TCM, Mojay says that it should be used for people with a deficiency of qi energy in the spleen. This refers to people who suffer from constant fatigue and who have a weak digestive system.
How to use
Typically for a full body bath in a tub, use up to 5 drops of essential oils in the tub of warm water. Foot or hand baths may be prepared by adding 2-3 drops of essential oil to a bowl of warm water.
Use a 2.5% dilution of the appropriate blend of essential oils to the chosen carrier oil.
A 2.5% dilution equates to 5 drops of essential oil to 10mL of carrier oil.
The best way to use essential oils for inhalation is by diffusing them. When you are using essential oils in an ultrasonic diffuser please follow the instructions of the diffuser that you are using.
Patchouli oil imparts strength, character, allure and lasting qualities to a blend. It is very grounding and balancing. It contributes to the rich base note of a perfume. Patchouli oil can easily overpower a blend so it is best to use with other essential oils that have a rich and heavy aroma. Generally patchouli oil would not be more than 5% of your essential oil combination.
In perfumery, patchouli oil blends well with;
- rich warm resins such as benzoin, cistus, peru balsam or frankincense
- sweet citrus oils such as bergamot, sweet orange or mandarin
- floral, fresh, herbaceous oils such as lavender, clary sage, geranium and palmarosa
- warm and subtle woody and earthy oils such as vetiver, atlas cedarwood and sandalwood
- warm spicy oils such as clove bud, cinnamon bark, coriander seed and ginger
- rich floral oils such as rose absolute, jasmine absolute and ylang ylang
It is used extensively in perfumes – especially Orientals and Chypres.
Perfect Potion Classics with patchouli
As I stated earlier it is ironic I am not a big fan of patchouli – because apart from lavender oil it is the 2nd most used essential oil in all of our Perfect Potion products.
In blends such as Earth and Balance, patchouli is the main star. The purpose of these blends is to energetically ground us. Patchouli’s musty aroma reminds me of old books and libraries, this is why it was used in our sacred space blend Wisdom.
I honestly do not think of patchouli as being sensual, however when it is blended with floral oils such as ylang ylang or jasmine to create Lust Pulse Point, Eros Blend or Allure Chakra Blend, it enhances the intensity and tenacity of the floral oils making the blend so voluptuous!!
Sometimes patchouli is simply used as a base note to balance complex blends such as Umi, or our most exquisite of all Perfect Potion blends – Green Goddess.
I’m a big fan of patchouli in skincare. Being rich in patchouli alcohol and sesquiterpenses, it is perfect for its anti-inflammatory and rejuvenating properties on the skin. It is not surprising that it is an important ingredient in all our Skin Elixir skincare range and Replenish skincare range.
The papaya enzymes in Papaya Enzyme Mask have a strong distinctive aroma, hence we added patchouli oil to mask the strong aroma of the natural enzymes.
I don’t think it would be possible to make a perfume without patchouli oil in it – especially rich floral perfumes such as Turkish Moon, Salam, Shanti and Shalom.
It is also used in our hair care products – Hair & Scalp Elixir, Hair Balm and Beard Elixir.
Patchouli oil is considered non-toxic, non- irritant and non-sensitising. No contraindications known.
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Click the image below to download the collectable Patchouli Monograph PDF…