Patchouli is a plant that is native to the tropical regions of Asia. This bushy herb that belongs to the mint family grows to a height of two to three feet. It has erect stems and small pinkish-white flowers. The leaves of patchouli have a distinct and exotic scent. So these plants have been used for making perfumes and incense throughout the centuries. Patchouli plants are equally popular for their therapeutic properties.
History of Patchouli
Asians were well aware of patchouli's moth-repellent properties, even before the nineteenth century. It is evident from the fact that the silk traders of Asia used to pack their fabric along with patchouli leaves, in order to repel moths from those expensive goods. During that time, the aroma of patchouli leaves was an indication of genuine goods from the Orient. By the middle of the nineteenth century, Europeans started importing dried patchouli leaves, which were used to scent their goods. Later, essential oil extracted from dried patchouli leaves was used as a fixative (substance that combines well with other ingredients in a blend, slowing down the evaporation of the fragrance) in perfumes and cosmetics. This increase in demand led to the commercial cultivation of several varieties of patchouli across Asia and in some Caribbean countries. Distillation plants were also set up in large numbers.
Essential Oil Extraction
Patchouli essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the leaves. Usually, the harvested leaves are dried and partially fermented before the process of distillation. Fresh patchouli oil lacks the deep earthy aroma. The longer it sits, the aroma and the color of the oil improves. With time, it will become more vicious and the color changes from green to pale yellow, red, and dark amber. This oil is also extracted through CO2 extraction method, wherein CO2 is used as a solvent.
Uses of Patchouli Oil
Traditionally, patchouli was used as an antidote for snakebites and as a moth repellent. Parts of this plant were used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat cold, headaches, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Patchouli oil was also used in some of the alternative treatment methods as an aromatherapy oil. It was used as an immune system booster and stress-relief agent. Studies show that patchouli oil contains chemical compounds like b-patchoulene, a-guaiene, caryophyllene, a-patchoulene, seychellene, a-bulnesene, norpatchoulenol, patchouli alcohol, and pogostol, which are responsible for its medicinal properties. Here is a compilation of some of the common uses of patchouli oil.
- Antiseptic: This essential oil has long been used for healing cuts and wounds. With its antiseptic property, patchouli oil protects the wounds from infection. Application of this oil is also said to be beneficial for fading the scars left by wounds, marks of acne, boils, and measles.
- Diuretic: Patchouli oil is said to be an effective diuretic, which increases the frequency of urination and leads to reduced blood pressure, low cholesterol level, loss of weight, and effective removal of toxins from the body.
- Astringent: Patchouli oil aids muscle contractions, thereby reducing sagging of skin, hair fall, muscle loosening, and loosening of gums. It is also believed that this oil can prevent hemorrhages, as it contracts blood vessels.
- Antidepressant: Patchouli oil calms down people with anxiety and depression. This oil is often used in aromatherapy, as it relieves conditions related to stress. It is said to be useful for uplifting mood.
- Aphrodisiac: Patchouli oil is claimed to be beneficial for treating sexual problems like erectile dysfunction, loss of libido, and impotency. The scent of patchouli is said to evoke sexual interest.
- Antipyretic: Patchouli is used to treat fever, as it can lower the body temperature and fight infections that cause fever. It is also good for reducing inflammation caused by fever.
- Antifungal: The oil is also popular as an antifungal agent, which can prevent fungal infections, like athlete's foot. It is claimed to be beneficial for relief from dandruff, and to balance oiliness of the scalp.
- Deodorant: The oil, which is popular for its scent can also be used to ward off body odor. You may dilute the oil with distilled water and use as a spray, or mix it with a base oil to rub on the skin.
- Skin and Hair Care: Patchouli oil aids the body in regeneration of new skin cells, thereby making the skin healthy and young. It is also good for hair, as it is used to treat dandruff and as a conditioner.
- Mouth Freshener: Those with halitosis can gargle using water mixed with a few drops of patchouli oil. This is said to be effective for relief from bad breath. You may also add one or two drops of the oil to your mouthwash.
- Insecticide: The oil is effective as an insecticide, and has been used through the centuries as a moth repellent. Apart from moths, mosquitoes, ants, beg bugs, lice, fleas, and flies, can be repelled with this oil. For this purpose, you may use sprays, body lotions, fumigants, vaporizers, or incense sticks, which contain patchouli oil.
Being highly concentrated in nature, essential oil is mostly used in diluted forms, especially in case of therapeutic uses. Though patchouli oil is widely used for its health benefits, there is no concrete scientific backing for the claims. Patchouli oil is mainly used for topical application and is believed to be safe, if used in the proper manner. Oral intake must be according to the instructions of a qualified herbal practitioner. You must also seek the opinion of your physician, before starting any herbal treatment. It is also very important to use high quality oil or certified organic essential oil of patchouli. Using contaminated products may affect your health negatively.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.