Patchouli has probably the most distinctive smell of all the essential oils, with its strong, fragrant, earthy, exotic musky notes and deep woody undertones. This plant, which bears an uncanny resemblance to lavender, is native to India and Malaysia and was commonly used to repel mosquitoes and kill bed bugs.
Between the18th century to the mid-19th century, the dried patchouli leaves were used as packing materials for Chinese silks and cashmeres to protect these delicate fabrics from moths whilst in transit. During Victorian times, these scarves, shawls & fabrics made their way to England and quickly gained a reputation for luxury due to its heady aromatic fragrance, and of course only available to the elite & high society.
Patchouli went through a revival during the 70’s and now we associate patchouli with the hippie era, but there is way more to patchouli than just Woodstock, bongs, mung beans & free love. Believe it or not, patchouli is an amazingly effective oil in skin care as its cell regenerating properties accelerates healing and helps break down cellulite. Like a fine red wine, Patchouli is one of the few oils that actually improves with age and mature skin benefits from its deep moisturising collagen repairing properties.
Patchouli really is a wonder oil, from its ability to sedate to settling anxiety and infection, we can see why this wonder oil has been labelled the true title of ‘liquid gold’ (Kocevski D et al 2013).
Lets explore some of the ways in which we can use patchouli.
Botanical name: Pogostemon cablin
Origin: Native to tropical Asia, especially Indonesia and the Philippines.
Aroma characteristics: Spicy, woody, strong, sweet, deep and exotic, earthy, heady uplifting & sedative.
Therapeutic properties: Antidepressant, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, astringent, calmative, cytophylactic (protects cells), nervine, immune-stimulant.
Therapeutic uses: Viral, fungal, bacterial infection, parasitic infection, respiratory tract infection, insect repellent, insect bites and stings, gastrointestinal infection, bronchitis, catarrh, colds, influenza, rheumatism, muscular pain, acne, abscesses, depression, moodiness, irritability, problematic skin conditions.
All the essential oils highlighted in this column are available at The Emporium of the Enchanted Forest (inside the VaVa Yoga Studio), and you can explore our Apothecary and discuss any questions you may have with me, Ashlí.
Kocevski D, Du M, Kan J, Jing C, Lačanin I, Pavlović H. Antifungal effect of Allium tuberosum, Cinnamomum cassia, and Pogostemon cablin essential oils and their components against population of Aspergillus species. J Food Sci. 2013 May;78(5):M731-7. doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.12118. PMID: 23647469.
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