Patchouli Pogostemon cablin is a perennial herb with a sturdy, hairy stem and belongs to the Lamiacea Family. It grows up to approximately 1 metre in height and is native to tropical Asia (especially Indonesia and the Philippines) and is extensively cultivated in the tropics. An essential oil is steam distilled from the dried leaves which contain about 1 .2 — 4% volatile oil and its major constitutents are:32 — 40% alcohols mainly patchouli alcohol; as well pogostol, bulnesol, guaiol andnorpatchoulenol; 50% sesquiterpenes mainly patchoulenes, as well as alpha-guaiene, alpha-bulnesene, seychellenes, cadinene, caryophylene and aromadendrene. It is the patchouli alcohol and the norpatchoulenol that is mostly responsible for the odour of the oil.
Patchouli was used traditionally as an insect repellent. In India it was used in traditional medicine for nervous diseases, while in traditional Chinese medicine it is used to treat colds, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Patchouli is used extensively as a fragrance component in cosmetic preparations and it is one of the most used ingredients in perfumes, especially Oriental types. It is also used widely in soaps and depilatory creams. Patchouli is an aroma that has been strongly identified with the ‘hippie culture’.
Psychologically, Patchouli is balancing and calming and is useful for nervous exhaustion, anxiety, nervous tension, lethargy and stress related problems. It is very grounding and strengthens the will to live. It can help to relax an overactive mind.
On the physiological level it has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and cell regenerating properties and may be helpful for dermatitis, acne, athlete’s foot, cracked & dry skin, enlarged pores and simple water retention. It aids scars, wrinkles, wounds, bedsores and abscess. It is a good skincare tonic considered effective for oily hair & scalp, dandruff, eczema (weeping) and impetigo. It is also an insect repellent.
Contraindications: Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic.
Albert Leung & Steven Foster , Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs, and cosmetics, John Wiley & Sons, Inc , New York, Chichester, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore, 1996 Ernest Guenther, The Essential Oils Vol.V, Krieger Publishing, Malabar, Florida, 1952, reprinted 1976. Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 2000