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5 January 2022 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Patchouli Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

The sweet, musky scent of patchouli can deter pests and balance mood for a clearer outlook.

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Dried Patchouli herb leaves

Native to tropical regions of Asia, the patchouli herb produces a fragrant oil that, much like wine, gets better with age.

Distinctly woody with musky, earthy undertones, the smoky scent of patchouli has been revered in the modern age for its associations with 1960s Hippie culture.

This is due to the scent being used in incense sticks, as well as its particular ability to relax the mind and increase libido.

Patchouli is often used to regulate mood, cleanse the skin, and repel insects.

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What is Patchouli Essential Oil?

Extracted via steam distillation from the leaves of the patchouli plant, patchouli oil is often light amber to orange in colour and is associated primarily with the perfume industry.

This connection comes as a result of the oil’s natural musky undertones, which are known to linger on the skin of the wearer.

Also referred to by the botanical name Pogostemon Cablin, patchouli oil is unique in that, unlike most other essential oils, its scent actually improves with age – producing a more potent concentration of the smoky, woody notes it is associated with as time goes on.

What are the benefits of Patchouli Essential Oil?

There’s a reason why this essential oil in particular is so well respected in aromatherapy circles.

Whether you enjoy the “hit or miss” scent or not, the benefits of the oil speak for themselves and can be utilised in several ways.

The benefits of patchouli essential oil include:

  • Hormone balancing
  • Cleaning
  • Skincare
  • Pest repellent
  • Anti-inflammatory

Amber Glass bottles with dried patchouli herbs surrounding

Can patchouli essential oil balance hormones?

The hormone-affecting properties of patchouli oil can have a decisive effect on your mood and even your love life.

Inhaling patchouli oil has been said to encourage the release of serotonin and dopamine - happy hormones that help to reduce stress and other negative emotions.

Patchouli is therefore considered a natural remedy for low mood and anxiety.

Patchouli oil is also said to boost testosterone in men. This allows it to act as an aphrodisiac by improving symptoms of sexual dysfunction and increasing confidence levels.

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Is patchouli oil good for cleaning?

Patchouli oil has been found to display very potent antimicrobial activity.

A found that the oil was able to combat both bacterial and fungal activity, making it a successful agent against both kinds of infection.

Using a few drops of patchouli oil in a natural cleaning spray can help to rid your home of harmful microorganisms.

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Using patchouli essential oil for skincare

Patchouli oil is known to stimulate muscle contractions, which can help to keep skin looking tight and youthful.

It can also assist in the process of regenerating new skin cells, which can in turn brighten the appearance of its surface overall.

Patchouli’s strong antibacterial properties help it to deeply cleanse pores - keeping skin clear - and its antifungal abilities make it a great agent for fighting conditions such as athlete’s foot. 

A also found that the oil has significant anti-fungal properties, allowing it to reduce redness and irritation - common symptoms of many skin conditions.

Unlike many skincare products, patchouli is great for both dry and oily skin thanks to its diverse range of skin-boosting properties.

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Is patchouli oil a good insect repellent?

Historically used to repel moths, patchouli oil has also recently been proven effective against mosquitoes, fleas, and ants – among other insects.

A found that patchouli was actually a highly effective termite repellent, meaning the oil could possibly be utilised in a garden environment to keep pests from feeding.

Diffusing or spraying patchouli oil around your home can help to deter unwanted visitors overall.

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Patchouli essential oil as an anti-inflammatory

Several studies have indicated the possible anti-inflammatory effects of patchouli oil on the skin.

found that immune cells known as macrophages – often associated with inflammation due to the chemicals they produce – can be pre-treated with patchouli to lower their levels when stimulated.

This in turn reduces inflammation and can be utilised in treating anti-inflammatory conditions.

It has even been suggested that patchouli oil may positively contribute to the reduction of inflammatory bowel disease.

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How do I use patchouli essential oil?

Aromatherapy

While the aroma of patchouli can be considered somewhat of an acquired taste, its therapeutic benefits are certainly worth diffusing around your home.

Known for calming the mind, reducing stress, and acting as an aphrodisiac, this woody, earthy scent will provide you with the ideal canvas for physical and emotional balance.

Add a few drops to your chosen diffuser or oil burner and enjoy. Alternatively, you can add it to your bath, or to a handkerchief for on-the-go aromatherapy.

Skincare

Patchouli oil can help to maintain the youthful appearance of the skin, as well as cleanse the pores and keep an even skin tone across all skin types.

Dilute a few drops of patchouli with your chosen carrier oil and use it as a daily cleanser. Remember to always patch test your essential oils before use on the skin.

Massage

The anti-inflammatory effects of patchouli make it a great ingredient for at-home massages.

Combine with your chosen carrier oil and apply to problem spots, or use to help facilitate a calming atmosphere.

Insect repellent

Traditionally used for deterring moths, patchouli can be combined with water and dish soap in a spray bottle to repel all sorts of pests from your home and garden – particularly during the summer season.

You can find out more about the best essential oils for repelling pests here.

Cleaning

Packed with effective antimicrobial effects, patchouli is one of the few essential oils not belonging to the citrus family that has an impactful effect on cleaning.

Add a few drops to a spray bottle with vinegar, baking soda, and water for an impactful homemade cleaner that can be used as opposed to or in conjunction with regular cleaning.

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History of Patchouli Essential Oil

The name patchouli comes from the Indian word meaning ‘to scent’. This refers to one of the earliest uses of the oil: in the scenting of Eastern fabrics to mask odour and protect from moths.

In the 1800s, when these fabrics were traded globally, the scent of patchouli was used to determine whether or not they were authentic.

Journeying further still, it is said that 10 gallons of patchouli oil were buried with Tutankhamun in his tomb, as he was so fond of the scent.

Patchouli leaf Illustration

    Fragrant patchouli has not only had many practical applications over the centuries but has also been closely tied to causes that champion values of peace and love.

    Its balancing scent brings order and comfort to the mind, whilst its cleansing, hygienic properties keep us safe and healthy.

    Shop our patchouli essential oil here.

    Product Name

    100% Pure Patchouli (Indonesian) Essential Oil
    Botanical Name Pogostemon Cablin
    Scent Type Earthy
    Benefits & Uses Calming, Insect Repellent, Balancing
    Suitable for Diffusers? Yes, this patchouli (indonesian) essential oil is perfect for diffusers.
    Suitable for Candles and Soaps? Yes, this patchouli (indonesian) essential oil is perfect for candle and soap making.
    Extraction Method Steam Distillation
    Bottle Type Tamper proof and UV resistant

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