A couple of summers ago, I bought a patchouli plant at Little Green Things in Hildebran. I looked for one this year, but didn’t find it. I love the earthy, sweet aroma of the leaves and was surprised to learn it is a member of the mint family. The plant flowers reluctantly, but even if you don’t get blossoms, you can use some of the fragrant leaves in potpourri and to make sachets to repel moths in my off-season clothes. It smells so much nicer than moth balls.
The essential oil is made from the leaves, which need to be aged before the oil is extracted by steam distillation. Then the oil itself needs to be aged. It thickens, changes color and smells better as it ages.
I first smelled the exotic scent of patchouli in incense, perfumes and soaps, but I’ve started using the essential oil for a variety of other benefits besides just the wonderful aroma.
Patchouli essential oil is good for fungal infections, including athlete’s foot, ringworm, and dandruff, and for bacterial infections. It makes a great-smelling insect repellant and relieves the itching of insect bites. It rejuvenates cells and is thus helpful in healing wounds and scars. It is a good topical remedy for other skin conditions, too. Use it for acne or eczema and for inflamed, cracked, chapped and irritated skin.
Patchouli essential oil helps to reduce anxiety and nervous tension and eases insomnia. Its uplifting fragrance is grounding and provides a connection to the earth that gives us emotional support. Many meditators use it to center and quiet the mind. It is even said to be useful as an aphrodisiac.
Patchouli is often used in essential oil blends. I have a cream that I use and sell in my massage practice from Natural Options Aromatherapy that blends lavender and patchouli. It smells heavenly, and is really relaxing on the table you can get a whole body massage with it for $5 extra, or you can just ask for it for the back or feet as a treat at no extra cost. (You can also buy it for at home use for $16.)
You can make your own patchouli blend using the recipe below. This recipe comes from Aura Cacia and is said to adapt to your own body chemistry to produce a unique personal essence and to be balancing in its effects..
Personal Essence Oil
Ingredients: 10 drops bergamot essential oil; 4 drops rose essential oil; 6 drops patchouli essential oil.
Directions: Mix the base oils in a dark-colored glass bottle. You can vary the aroma with the addition of other oils. Aura Cacia suggests that “the rich, floral aroma can be lightened with the addition of complementary topnotes like lavender or lemon. The rose heart of the essence can be developed into a more complex floral note with the addition of neroli or jasmine. Clove and cinnamon will produce a more spicy fragrance.”
I hope you’ll give patchouli a try. It’s not just for hippies anymore.