Patchouli essential oil is distilled from the dried and lightly fermented leaves of Pogostemon cablin, a member of the mint (Lamiacae) family. It is grown and distilled in Indonesia, India, China, and Brazil. It also grows in locations that may surprise you, like NYC.
Like a fine wine, patchouli gets better with age. It mellows out, deepens and gets thicker as it sits and waits for you to use it to support your body, mind and even home.
You may find many different types of patchouli once you start looking: Dark (the distillation is in iron), Light (the distillation is in stainless steel or something other than iron), Aged 2 years and aged 5 years, where 2 year is more common and a 5 year is harder to find.
Patchouli essential oil has an affinity to: the skin (anti-inflammatory, antifungal, wound healing, astringent), the circulatory system (venous astringent, varicose veins, enhance local circulation) and the emotions (antidepressant, anxiety, aphrodisiac, and grounding). But this botanical not only helps chill the mind and skin, it has been used for centuries to keep pests like dust mites and mosquitoes at bay.
Chemistry Highlights: Patchouli essential oil is rich in sesquiterpenes (α-bulnesene and α-guaiene) and alcohols (patchoulol) supported by monoterpenes.
Is Patchouli essential oil safe?
Patchouli is generally regarded as safe with an important exception: its content of the sesquiterpene α-bulnesene many inhibit blood clotting. This means that people who are preparing to undergo a major surgery, taking anticoagulant medication, or who have peptic ulcer, hemophilia, or other bleeding disorders should curtail or stop their usage of patchouli (especially internal and dermal) and seek an alternative oil.
Blending with Patchouli Essential oil.
Patchouli’s rich, deep and dusty, earthy-sweet, dark chocolaty tenacity evokes thoughts of spice markets and textiles from India. It is useful for grounding and centering both the mind and when blending essential oils as its high content of sesquiterpenes (more carbons means heavier mass) help it “fix” a blend and act as a base note. This heavier quality also contributes to its longer shelf life.
Patchouli essential oil blends well with: Lavender, Cardamom, Bergamot, Elemi, Sweet Orange, Cypress, Tangerine/Mandarin, Black pepper, Cinnamon leaf, Ginger, Grapefruit, Clary sage, Rose alba, Tansy, Cistus, Geranium, Nagarmotha, Ylang ylang.
Creating Wellness Products with Patchouli
Patchouli Essential Oil and the Skin
Patchouli has been one of my go-to essential oils to feel grounded, earthy and sexy—and who wouldn’t want to feel that way when approaching things like fungal infections, anti-aging and insects?
Tough on fungi but gentle enough for the skin.
- 2 ounce glass spray bottle
- 4 tablespoons Thyme linalool hydrosol (Thymus vulgaris ct linalool)
- 20 drops Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
- 20 drops Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii)
- 15 drops Rosalina (Melaleuca ericifolia)
How to make: Add the hydrosol into the bottle leaving enough room for the essential oils. Add the essential oils. Place the spray pump on the bottle. Label the bottle and store in a cool place.
How to use: Ensure the affected area is clean and dry. Vigorously shake the bottle before each use to disperse the essential oils. Spray the affected area and massage the spray onto the skin. Ensure the area is dry before putting clothing on.
Astringent Body Oil – For Oily Skin
The following Body Oil has an astringent quality that is beneficial for skincare (e.g., sagging skin, cellulite) and venous care (e.g., varicose veins).
- 2 ounce pump bottle
- 3 tablespoons jojoba oil
- 1 tablespoon Tamanu oil (Calophyllum inophyllum)
- 10 drops Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
- 2 drops Cistus (Cistus ladanifera)
- 9 drops Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- 2 drops Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
- 2 drops Rose (Rosa alba)
How to make: Combine the tamanu and jojoba oils into the bottle. Add the essential oils. Secure the pump top onto the bottle. Shake to incorporate the oils. Apply and lightly massage into areas of concern. Spot test before using on your face.
How to use: Apply oil liberally over body after showering.
Critters Go Away Spray
Keep critters away from you and your mattress with this Insect repellent. If you do use it on your bedding it may assist with your slumber as many of the essential oils are also known to calm the mind and promote sleep.
- 2 ounce glass spray bottle
- 2 tablespoons Geranium hydrosol (Pelargonium asperum)
- 2 tablespoons Thyme ct linalool hydrosol (Thymus vulgaris ct linalool)
- 20 drops Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
- 13 drops Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- 13 drops Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum or other Pelargonium sp.)
- 10 drops Thyme ct linalool (Thymus vulgaris ct linalool)
- 4 drops Lemon Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus citriodora)
How to make: Measure out and add the hydrosols into the bottle leaving enough room for the essential oils. Add the essential oils. Place the spray pump on the bottle. Put a label on the bottle and store in a cool but convenient place.
How to use: Shake the bottle well before using.
- As a personal bug repellent: Spray liberally on your skin and clothing, ensuring you rub the solution into your skin. Apply every 2 hours when you know you need to keep the bugs away. Keep the spray away from mucus membranes.
- As a linen spray: Spray liberally on mattress, linens and in closets as needed.
Patchouli Essential Oils and Emotions
Patchouli is one of the paradoxes in aromatherapy—although it is distilled from the leaf, it has grounding and centering characteristics of a root oil. It is indicated for anxiety, depression, confusion, mood swings, hyperactivity, centering, grounding and frigidity or lack of sex drive.
When an essential oil is indicated as an aphrodisiac it means the aromatics are working with your mind-body, specifically your nervous system. The aphrodisiac aromatics help ignite the “rest and digest” response and invite you to the possibility of repose and receptivity.
Aphrodisiac Massage Oil
Enjoy using with your partner or alone to feel relaxed and radiant.
- 1 ounce pump bottle
- 2 tablespoons of sesame oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 4 drops Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)
- 3 drops Ylang ylang Complete (Cananga odorata complete)
- 3 drops Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)
- 4 drops Red Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)
- 1 drop Rose Otto (Rosa alba)
How to make: Fill the 1 ounce bottle with the sesame or fixed oil of your choice. Add essential oils into the fixed oil. Place the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for a minute or two. Wipe any oil residue off the bottle with rubbing alcohol and affix a label. Use as needed and enjoy!
Written by: Amy Anthony
(Aromatic Studies Instructor)
Amy Anthony B.A, is a certified Aromatherapist with a private practice in Manhattan, NY. Her focus is on customized aromatherapy and education: she consults with clients and teaches workshops at the NYIOA and around the NY metro area. Amy also enjoys formulating and devising delivery methods that encourage the safe, practical use of aromatherapy—like fizzing bath balls, shower bars and sleep mists.
Amy has been a gardener since the age of 5 and has continually found ways to connect with plants since moving to NYC in 1999. Her knowledge of plants brings a holistic, plant-based approach to her teaching and practice of aromatherapy. Amy is also a certified master composter, has volunteered at Saint George’s Common Table since 2012 and will train to be a doula with The Doula Program to Accompany and Comfort in the fall of 2016. More can be found about her aromatherapy practice at http://nycaroma.com.