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Patchouli Essential Oil

Patchouli Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin

Patchouli essential oil’s intoxicating scent has been long used to overpower or mask unwanted odors. It was a famous scent during the hippy era and in the perfume industry. But this oil is beloved not just because of its aroma but also because of its countless medicinal benefits.

patchouli flower top view
Photo by sorsillo from iStock

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is a flowering plant belonging to the family Lamiaceae. It can grow up to 1 meter in height and surrounding it are small, pinkish-white flowers and. Its oval-shaped leaves are highly coveted for their oil.

This bushy herb is native to Southeast Asia but is found in Northern India as well. They grow well in tropical climates and can survive drought. Now, patchouli is extensively cultivated around the world, with Indonesia leading 90% of the plant's oil production in the global market.

The patchouli essential oil gives out a distinct, powerful woody scent with a just a hint of sweet and spicy. It is also said that patchouli smells like the aroma that comes from wet soil. Its name is believed to have been derived from the Hindi word "pacholi" which means "to scent." This is the reason the oil has been used as an ingredient in many perfume and cosmetic products.

The patchouli essential oil is extracted from dried leaves and twigs through steam distillation. The key chemical components of patchouli oil are patchoulol, α-patchoulene, β-patchoulene, α-bulnesene, α-guaiene, caryophyllene, norpatchoulenol, seychellene, and pogostol.

Traditional Uses of the Patchouli Oil

The scent of dried patchouli leaves can repel insects such as moths. This proved to be useful to the Chinese silk traders in the 18th century by keeping away moths from their precious textiles. It is believed that the oil's aroma gave fabrics from Asia a certain scent only oriental fabrics have that other European fabric producers dose their cloths with artificial patchouli oil to gain sales.

Because of the oil's pungent scent and its association to famous people such as Queen Victoria, European deemed the oil as luxury. Not only was it a popular incense scent, it became the signature scent of the hippie movement in the 1960s.

Uses of Patchouli Essential Oil

Natural perfumes

Aside from being an ingredient to commercial perfumes, patchouli essential oil also acts as a natural air freshener, which helps create a relaxing mood in a room. Given its antiseptic property, it helps cleanse the home while giving it a calming aroma. A blend of lemon essential oil and patchouli oil can get rid of unwanted odors in a room.

Insect repellant

The patchouli essential oil has done it before and is still proving itself to be an effective insect repellant. It also works against termites and garden pests. For those who want to get rid of house flies and certain species of mosquitoes, patchouli oil can do the trick.

For skin, hair, and scalp

Patchouli essential oil has been used as an active ingredient in several cosmetic products, including oils, lotions, creams, soaps, and shampoos.

Patchouli oil can also strengthen hair and promote healthy, dandruff-free scalp. Three to five drops of this oil can be added to the hair conditioner of choice. Men's beards also need the attention it deserves. A blend of patchouli with cedarwood oil and carrier oils such as coconut and avocado can be used as beard conditioner.

It is believed to reduce the appearance of lines, scars, and blemishes while moisturizing the skin at the same time. It balances the oil production of the skin, which is beneficial to those suffering from dry and acne-prone skin.


This is one of the oil's most powerful property. It works against disease-causing bacteria such as strains of Staphylococcus. Patchouli oil was also discovered to have anti-fungal properties that work against several strains of fungi, including the most common ones such as athlete's foot.

For wounds or cuts, patchouli essential oil’s antibacterial property helps prevent infection. It also helps fight infections that lead to fever and ease the symptoms that come with it.

scattered dried patchouli
Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels


Patchouli oil's patchoulene component is helps relieve pain and inflammation brought about by arthritic conditions, joint and muscle pain, and other inflammatory cases.

Inflammation happens when the body's immune system is triggered by an infection or when it reacts to a certain stress. So, it works like a signal that your body's immune defense is acting towards an infection.

To relieve the body from certain pain and inflammation, the patchouli essential oil can be diffused or diluted and massaged on the skin. It can reduce the feverish feeling one can experience when suffering from an infection. The diluted patchouli oil can be applied on the hands, neck, or temples to give the body a cooling sensation.


Patchouli essential oil is commonly used in aromatherapy because of its calming effect thanks to the patchoulol component of this oil. It helps relax the muscles and ease tension. It stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are known as the pleasure hormones. This gives a fresh and happy feeling.

For heathy sleep

The essential oil from patchouli plant is useful in treating sleeping problems such as insomnia. Patchouli oil gives off a sedative effect that promotes deeper sleep and improves its quality. Blending patchouli essential oil with cypress essential oil and lavender essential oil can induce a good night’s sleep.

For better respiratory system

Patchouli essential oil's ability to rid of mucus deposits in the nasal passageway promotes decongestion. It helps relieve a sore throat.

Safety Tips and Precautions

Patchouli essential oil can relieve the discomfort brought about by inflammation. But consulting a physician is the first step to getting proper treatment for inflammation cases. Inflammation always has a root cause, usually an infection, and it is important to cure the source of the infection. This is completely rid of the inflammation.

Always dilute patchouli essential oil before applying on skin. Also, doing a skin test can determine if one is sensitive to the oil's reaction or not. High concentration of patchouli oil on the skin can cause rashes. Also, it is best not to use the oil in sensitive parts of the body such as near the eyes, inside the nose, and in the ears. After applying patchouli oil on the skin, it is best to avoid too much sun exposure.

Although it induces a calming effect when diffused in a room, prolonged exposure to patchouli oil can be overstimulating. For people who are recovering from an illness or those suffering from eating disorders, it is best to avoid using this oil, for it can cause appetite loss.

Seeking the advice of a medical professional before using this oil is advised to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Keep the oil away from children's reach.

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