The scent of Patchouli essential oil likely brings about images of a carefree lifestyle and the Summer of Love. In reality, patchouli has been used for centuries for its amazing healing benefits. We can now harness the power of patchouli in our daily lives through the use of pure essential oil. Here we will go over the many benefits of patchouli essential oil, covering some you likely never knew!
A History of Patchouli
Though it was adopted by the flower power movement of the sixties, patchouli has been used for hundreds of years in numerous cultures. Native to Southeast Asia, patchouli is known scientifically as Pogostemon cablin. It is an herb which grows up to three feet, and produces delicate hairy leaves. It is these leaves which create the familiar scent of Patchouli oil.
In the 19th century, the plant was added to cases of cloth shipped from India. The scent would repel insects and other invaders, and ensured the cloth would reach its destination undisturbed. In fact, any cloth claiming to be of Indian make which did not have the distinct scent was impossible to sell. The dried leaves are also added to potpourri blends which repel bedbugs and mites. In Japan and China, the herb and its oil have been used in traditional medicine for ages.
Patchouli Essential Oil
By far, the most popular use of the patchouli plant comes from distilling the leaves and creating pure patchouli essential oil. The familiar spicy, musky liquid is calming and sensual, and has been used by many as an aphrodisiac essential oil. The potency of the oil does not stop there, though. Patchouli essential oil boasts many benefits for the body, mind, and skin due to its amazing active constituents.
To figure out why it is so beneficial, it is important to know what the active ingredients in patchouli oil are, and what they do in the body. Patchouli essential oil is composed of mainly:
- Patchoulol. The distinct scent of patchouli oil comes from its high content of patchoulol. The compound is isolated and used in the fragrance industry, and is even used in a chemotherapy drug. It is also an antidepressant, anti-inflammatory compound.
- Bulnesene. A terpenoid isolated from patchouli, bulnesene helps to reduce blood clotting in the body.
- a-Guaiene. A terpene found in many essential oils, Guaiene provides the earthy undertones of the essential oil. It is used in fragrances and flavorings
- Patchoulene. Another distinctive terpene, Patchoulene is a volatile compound most notably found in patchouli, but also found in other plants. Like strawberry guava.
Benefits of Patchouli Essential Oil
The rich earthy scent of patchouli oil is stereotypically associated with sensuality, and is therefore greatly considered an aphrodisiac. But that just scratches the surface! The active ingredients which make up patchouli essential oil have been linked to many benefits over the years. Using the essential oil daily has many benefits on the body.
In the Body
Essential oil normally enters the body in two ways. It is either rubbed on topically, or inhaled. By being collected by the blood vessels in the skin or nose, essential oils are readily absorbed into the bloodstream, where they can positively affect the body.
According to a recent study, patchouli essential oil can support heart health. It actually has the same properties as a low dose asprin. In patients who have suffered from stroke, or patients whose blood is too thick and easily clots, patchouli essential oil may be used to thin the blood and prevent clotting. This shows promise to make patchouli essential oil a natural asprin alternative.
Thanks to the high levels of patchoulol in the essential oil, research recently found patchouli oil to be anti-inflammatory. When patchouli essential oil enters the bloodstream, it can modulate the body’s inflammatory responses. Researchers of this study focused on the response of the body to a known inflammatory toxin. Subjects who were treated with patchoulol showed a marked decrease in inflammation versus the control group.
Patchouli essential oil may also be a great way to reduce pain. Researchers found that patchoulol, the active ingredient in patchouli essential oil, reduces pain in test subjects. Those who were exposed to patchoulol showed less signs of pain that the control group. This can be of great benefit for people looking for natural pain relief.
For the Brain
Patchouli essential oil can enter the brain via the blood vessels in your nose. By inhaling patchouli essential oil through your aromatherapy diffuser, the essential oil goes to work immediately to relax and balance the mind.
Patchouli increases dopamine in the brain of individuals with mild depression. This recent study focused on the effects of a blend containing patchoulol, an active constituent of patchouli oil. Researchers found that subjects’ moods increased after exposure to the blend, and noted a significant increase of dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Dopamine and norepinephrine are the two main neurotransmitters responsible for a sense of well being.
Because of the high levels of patchoulol in the essential oil, patchouli essential oil is a sedative. Researchers focused on the effect of subjects who inhaled patchoulol, finding that they had decreased motor function and were generally more relaxed. Simply adding a few drops of patchouli oil to your aromatherapy diffusor and running for 30 minutes can be an effective way to calm your mind after a busy workday.
On the Skin
Pure patchouli essential oil can be diluted in carrier oil and applied to the skin to enjoy many of the benefits associated with the oil.
Patchouli essential oil helps to tighten up and balance the skin’s pH. Some simply add it to their favorite facial crèmes, and others make a dedicated patchouli oil facial serum. Either way you do it, patchouli oil can be used to help clear acne, balance oily skin, and reduce wrinkles in mature skin.
Patchouli essential oil may also help repair scar tissues. This is especially true when patchouli oil is blended with other oils which help scarring, and mixed in carrier oil which aids the process, such as rosehip oil. Try this recipe for scarring:
- 10 drops patchouli essential oil
- 10 drops carrot seed essential oil
- 10 drops geranium essential oil
- 5 drops neroli essential oil
- 1 oz rosehip oil
- 1 oz vitamin E oil
- Add ingredients to a 2 oz container and mix well. Apply to scars two to three times daily as needed.
As patchouli essential oil is an antimicrobial, it is great for skin conditions caused by fungus. Conditions such as Athlete’s foot, chapped skin, and dermatitis can all be helped by simply adding a drop of patchouli essential oil to your favorite moisturizer before applying to the affected area.
This is one of the oldest uses of patchouli oil; it is a recipe tested by time. Most insects are repelled by sharp, potent smells, such as patchouli or citronella. The scents either disgust or disorient them. If you enjoy the earthy scent of Patchouli essential oil, this is great news for you! Simply adding a few drops to your diffuser can be enough to deter pesky gnats and mosquitos.
You should always be aware that pure essential oil is powerful, and as such should be respected. It should be used in small amounts, and pay attention to any reactions your body may have to the oil. Children and pregnant or nursing women should only use patchouli oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner. If you already have thin blood, patchouli oil may not be right for you, as it can further thin the blood and prevent clotting. It is also important to be sure your essential oils are pure; to ensure you have the best experience possible.
Have a patchoili essential oil recipe you’d like to share? We would love to hear about the many ways you use this lovely essential oil in the comments below!