Patchouli Oil.

Beyond this oil’s unique aroma that’s associated with the “flower children” is a wealth of benefits that can soothe and heal you inside out. Discover more interesting facts about patchouli oil below.

What Is Patchouli Oil?

patchouli oil makePatchouli oil is derived from a large evergreen perennial that is a member of the Labiatae family, and a close relative of mint, lavender, and sage. The name “patchouli” (Pogostemon cablin or Pogostemon patchouli) is said to be derived from the ancient Tamil words “patchai” and “ellai,” meaning “green leaf.” Others say it comes from the Hindustan word “patchoi,” meaning “to scent,” referring to its use as a fragrance.

Patchouli originates from Southeast Asia. Today, it’s cultivated in China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but also grows in South America and other tropical regions like Hawaii.

Patchouli oil is extracted from the lightly fragrant leaves and the white, violet-marked flowers of the plant. It’s a thick, light yellow or brown liquid, with a strong, musky-earthy and slightly sweet aroma, reminiscent of wet soil. For some, the potent fragrance of this oil is an acquired taste.

What sets patchouli oil apart from other herbal oils is that it gets better with age. It’s light yellow color turns into a deep amber, and the scent becomes smoother and richer.

Uses of Patchouli Oil

Patchouli has been used for thousands of years. It was very valuable – early European traders actually  exchanged one pound of patchouli for a pound of gold. Romans used it as an appetite stimulant, while in Egypt, it was said that Pharaoh Tutankhamun – also known as King Tut – arranged to have 10 gallons of patchouli oil buried with him in his tomb.

Patchouli oil has long been used in traditional Asian medicine, especially in Malaysia, China, and Japan. It is used to treat skin and hair problems, such as dermatitis, eczema, acne, dry chapped skin, dandruff, and oily scalp. It also has wound healing and scar reducing properties, as well as aphrodisiac effects. The link to sexual desire likely originated from India, where it is used in Tantric sexual practices.

Patchouli oil is also popularly used as a fabric fragrance, a practice that dates back to 19th-century India. Manufacturers used it as a moth repellent for fabrics that are exported to other countries. The scent was so widely used that it became an indicator of authentic Oriental fabric. English and French garment makers even became obliged to add patchouli oil to their imitation products to make them acceptable to the market.

Today, patchouli oil is used as a fragrance in skin and personal care products, air fresheners, laundry detergents, and paper towels. It’s also used as incense and as a base note for perfumes.

In aromatherapy, patchouli oil is said to help relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. Its calming effect is very effective for relaxation and meditation. Simply add a few drops in a diffuser or vaporizer. You can also mix it into your face cream, lotion, or shampoo, or even add it to your bathwater.

Here are other ways to use patchouli oil:

  • Massage it into your skin to help prevent wrinkles and cellulite. Simply dilute it in a light carrier oil.
  • Dab a small amount on your skin to soothe cuts, scrapes, burns, and sores, as well as insect bites.
  • Apply a few drops on your wrists or add it to your sheets to keep ants, bedbugs, and other pests away. 
  • Put two to three drops on a cotton ball and dab it on your underarms to prevent body odor.
  • Mix a couple of drops into your shampoo or conditioner to treat dandruff and oily hair. Leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing.

Composition of Patchouli Oil

patchouli oil plantThe beneficial properties of patchouli oil come from its many constituents, such as alpha patchoulene, beta patchoulene, alpha bulnesene, alpha guaiene, caryophyllene, norpatchoulenol, patchouli alcohol, seychellene and pogostol. It also contains patchouli alcohol (PA), an important compound that has neuroprotective, anti-influenza, and anti-inflammatory activities.

Benefits of Patchouli Oil

Patchouli oil’s health benefits are attributed to its antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, and cytophylactic properties. It also works as a deodorant, diuretic, insecticide, and sedative. Patchouli oil can help address health conditions such as:

  • Inflammation – Patchouli oil can help soothe inflammation and/or irritation. It also works for inflammation-related conditions, like gout and arthritis.
  • Fungal infection – It inhibits fungal growth and gives you protection against notorious infections, such as athlete’s foot.
  • Colds and flu – Patchouli oil can bolster your immune system to help you avoid colds, influenza, and tonsillitis.
  • Fever – It helps fight infections that cause fever and reduces your body temperature.
  • Sexual problems(men and women) – It stimulates the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, and helps boost your sex drive. It is useful for impotence, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and sexual anxiety.

Patchouli oil is a tonic that helps promote your overall well-being by toning your stomach, liver, and intestines to optimize metabolic function. It also helps regulate your endocrinal secretions of hormones and enzymes and boosts your nervous and immune system health.

How to Make Patchouli Oil

The leaves of the patchouli plant are handpicked, bundled, and partially dried in the shade. They are  then fermented for a few days until the oil is extracted via steam distillation or CO2 extraction.

However, you can make a basic patchouli oil infusion at home using dried patchouli leaves.

Materials:

  • Dried patchouli leaves
  • Jojoba, olive, or sweet almond oil
  • Glass jar
  • Cheesecloth
  • Saucepan
  • Clean bottle

Procedure:

  • Dry the patchouli leaves completely by putting them under the sun for a few hours.
  • Wash the glass jar thoroughly with warm soapy water, and then rinse it with fresh water, at least, two to three times. Let dry.
  • Put the patchouli leaves in the jar, filling it to the top. Pour the carrier oil of your choice. Jojoba oil works best for making a light moisturizing oil while olive oil is ideal for making a massage oil. Sweet almond oil is good for body and scalp massage.
  • Screw the lid tightly and shake the jar a few times.
  • Pour water into your saucepan and bring to a boil. Then, take it off from the heat, and put the glass jar in the saucepan, leaving it there until the water cools down. Take out the jar and shake well again.
  • Store the jar in a cool, dry, and dark place for a month, allowing the patchouli leaves to seep in the carrier oil. Shake the jar thoroughly every day to mix the leaves with the oil.
  • Filter the mixture using the cheesecloth and funnel, and transfer the oil to a clean jar.

How Does Patchouli Oil Work?

patchouli-oilPatchouli oil can be inhaled, diffused in a vaporizer, or applied directly to the skin. Inhaling the scent of patchouli oil or absorbing it through the skin helps transmit messages to the limbic system, a brain region that’s involved in controlling emotions and influences the nervous system.

However, I advise using this oil in moderation because copious amounts can lead to a strong and overwhelming fragrance. The scent can also seep into fabric and furniture.

Is Patchouli Oil Safe?

Patchouli oil is safe when applied topically or inhaled. It can be used by itself, but can also be blended with other carrier oils. It mixes well with frankincense, clary sage, cedar, geranium, lavender, ylang-ylang, and rose oil. However, those with sensitive skin may have certain reactions to this herbal oil, so I recommend doing a patch test before using it. Keep it away from your eyes, ears, and nose.

You can ingest this oil by mixing a drop or two with a teaspoon of honey. I advise seeking the help of a qualified physician, though, before taking this oil orally. If you have gastric problems or any other medical contraindication, avoid ingesting this essential oil.

Some say that using patchouli oil during a pregnant woman’s first trimester is dangerous, but safe in the second and third trimester. For your safety, consult a health care professional before using this oil during the entire course of your pregnancy.

Side Effects of Patchouli Oil

Patchouli can cause over-stimulation and may have strong sedative effects when used in large amounts. It can also cause photo-sensitivity and appetite loss. If you’re suffering from an eating disorder or recovering from sickness, I advise you to not use this herbal oil.

Common Base Oils Used in Aromatherapy.

Most Common Base Oils Used in Aromatherapy.

Vegetable and herbal oil are used in creams, lotions, massage, facial and body oils, gels, and salves.

Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalis var. dulcis) and Apricot Kernel (Prunus armeniaca): emollients, can relieve itchiness and dryness.


Arnica (Arnica montana): indicated for bruises, varicose veins, burns, strains and sprains, arthritis, and myalgia.


Avocado (Persea Americana): wonderful oil for regenerative skin care, indicated for dry, itchy, or mature skin, antioxidant, nourishes the skin.


Baobab (Adansonia digitata) and Marula (Scelerocara birrea): emollient, soothes inflamed skin, dry skin, sunburn.


Borage (Borago officinalis) and Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis): excellent regenerative skin care oils, nourishing, indicated for psoriasis, eczema, inflamed and dry skin conditions.


Calendula (Calendula officinalis): anti-inflammatory, wound healing, soothes dry irritated skin, insect bites, cell regenerative.


Coconut (Cocos nucifera): emollient, slightly occlusive to the skin, blend with other oils, cooling, useful for dry skin.


Jojoba (Simmondsia Chinensis): indicated for acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, anti-inflammatory, regenerative skin care, great for hair and nails.


Rosehip Seed (Rosa rubiginose): excellent cell regenerative oil, preventative for premature aging skin, nourishing, soothes inflamed skin conditions.


Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnosides): anti-inflammatory, soothes inflamed skin conditions, sun damage, wound healing and antioxidant.


Sesame (Sesamum indicum): warming, regenerative skin care, dry skin, soothing to the skin, antioxidant, great for hair and nails.


St. Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum): Anti-inflammatory, indicated for muscular aches, pains, and strains, insect bites, dermal inflammation, slow healing wounds.


Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum): wound healing, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, promotes healthy scar tissue formation, relieves muscular aches and pains.

essential oil drop logoMethods of Application

Massage/Body Oil

Massage and/or body oils are a combination of one or more vegetable and/or herbal oils with essential oils.

RECOMMENDED DILUTIONS for Massage Oils

For infants and young children:
.5-1% dilution = 3-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier

For adults:
2.5% dilution = 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier
3% dilution = 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier
5% dilution = 30 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier
10% dilution = 60 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier

In general, aromatherapy oil based blends are useful for:

  • Stress/anxiety
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic or acute pain relief
  • Arthritis & rheumatism (sub-acute phase)
  • Chronic muscular/joint aches and pain
  • Pregnancy and childbirth massage
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Enhancing immunity
  • Relieving muscle spasms
  • Relax and soothe the nervous system
  • Aid in the treatment of sprains, strains, and repetitive movement injuries
  • And much, much more…

Facial Creams, Lotions, And Oils

You can purchase unscented facial creams or body lotions to add essential oils to or create a facial oil by using a variety of vegetable/herbal oils and then adding essential oils into the mix. Or learn how to make your own creams and lotions!

Facial oil/cream dilution rates

For adults:
Sensitive skin: .5 to 1 percent dilution = 3 to 6 drops per ounce
Normal, healthy skin: 1 to 2.5 percent dilution = 6 to 15 drops per ounce

In general, aromatherapy facial oils and creams are utilized to:

  • Enhance wound healing
  • Influence and slow aging of skin
  • Scar reduction and improve appearance
  • Support and enhance immune cells of the skin
  • Balance sebum production
  • Aid the process of detoxification in the skin
  • Increase local circulation
  • Improve tone of skin
  • Encourage hydration of the skin, when used in conjunction with hydrosol/water or cream.
  • Soften and soothe the skin
  • Address emotional issues

Baths

Add 2 – 12 drops (depending on essential oil) into a teaspoon of honey, whole milk, vegetable oil or another dispersing agent then add to bath once you are in the bath.

In general, aromatherapy full-body baths are useful to:

  • Reduce stress/anxiety
  • Alleviate muscular aches, pains, and tension
  • Soothe mental or physical fatigue
  • Stimulate circulation
  • Enhances lymph circulation
  • Reduce pain and stiffness
  • Increase local circulation
  • Improve tone and health of skin
  • Aid detoxification

Steam inhalation

Place 3-7 drops of essential oil into boiling water. Some essential oils to consider include Eucalyptus sp. (either E. globulus or E. radiata), Thyme ct. linalol (Thymus vulgaris), Lemon (Citrus limon), and Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Cover head with a towel and breath through the nose. Keep eyes closed!

Steam inhalations are indicated for:

  • Congestion in upper respiratory tract (cold or flu)
  • Sinus infection or sinusitis
  • Enhancing respiratory function

Aromatic Spritzers

An aromatic spritzer is a combination of essential oils and water. Often a dispersant such as solubol is used to diffuse the essential oils into the water. Aromatic spritzers can be used as room fresheners, to cleanse the air, to uplift and energize, to scent space, or used during a massage or esthetic practice: e.g. sprayed on face cradles to keep respiratory passages clear.

To make: Add 10-15 drops of essential oil (1-3 different essential oils) per ounce of water. Shake before using or add dispersing agent (e.g. solubol)

In general, aromatic spritzers are useful for:

  • Room and air freshener
  • Body sprays over which an aromatic blend will be applied
  • Reducing undesirable odors in the air
  • Enhancing breathing
  • Soothing a variety of emotional states

Diffusion

Depending on diffuser type, use as directed.

Aerial dispersion via electric diffuser can be used for:

  • Environmental ambiance
  • Stress/anxiety reduction
  • Insomnia or sleep disorders
  • Mood or motivation enhancement
  • Increase alertness
  • Purify and improve air quality
  • Reduce airborne pathogens

Different types of inhalation

Direct inhalation
Direct inhalation refers to the technique of sniffing or inhaling an essential oil directly from a bottle, a handkerchief or a cotton ball. Direct inhalations are most commonly employed for the relief of emotional distress and as supportive therapy for the relief of respiratory congestion or other respiratory ailments. Direct inhalations are also used for their effect on the nervous system.

Direct palm inhalation
Direct palm inhalation refers to the technique of sniffing or inhaling an essential oil/s or synergy directly from the palms of your hands. Direct palm inhalations are most commonly utilized for the relief of emotional distress, to uplift and transform one’s consciousness, or simply to relax and breathe. It can be used as supportive therapy for the relief of respiratory congestion or other respiratory ailments.

Direct from the bottle: Create a synergy (undiluted essential oils) utilizing 3-5 essential oils and place in a small bottle. Have client waft bottle under nose while taking deep inhalations. This can be done 3-4x a day or as needed.

Smelling salts: Create a synergy with a total of 20-30 drops utilizing 3-5 essential oils and place in a 10ml (1/3 ounce) bottle. Once the synergy is in the bottle, fill the remainder of the bottle with either fine or coarse sea salts. Have client waft bottle under nose while taking deep inhalations. This can be done 3-4x a day or as needed.

Handkerchief/Cotton-ball: Place 2-4 drops of essential oil or synergy on the tissue or cloth. Hold cloth in the palms of your hand and take 2-3 deep inhalations through the nose. If using a cotton ball, gently waft the cotton ball under the clients’ nose. This technique can be used 2-3x a day or as needed.

Inhaler tubes: Inhaler tubes are designed using 100% essential oil/s saturated on a cotton pad. **NOTE: Please be sure to use organic cotton pads. You can purchase these at a local health food store and cut the desired size to fit the tube. Cotton is considered a ‘dirty’ crop, meaning it is heavily sprayed with pesticides. It is recommended to replace the cotton pad that comes in the tube with a certified organic cotton pad.

To make: Choose 2-3 essential oils to work with based upon a specific purpose. Decide how many drops of each essential oil so it adds up to 15 to 25 drops.  Place drops of each essential oil in a small glass bowl/cup then place pad from inhaler into the bowl to absorb the essential oils. Use tweezers to move pad around a bit and then remove pad with tweezers and place in inhaler tube. Close inhaler tube and it is ready for use.

In general, Inhaler tubes or smelling salts are useful for:

  • Relieve stress
  • Uplift mood
  • Relieve nausea
  • Support hormonal balance
  • Support healthy breathing
  • Reduce nasal congestion
  • Emotional support

Dilution of Essential Oils for Topical Application: What You Need to Know.

Although essential oils are absorbed through the skin into the blood stream somewhat more readily when applied undiluted than when used in diluted form, this is not a good practice because the risks of experiencing skin irritation and sensitization (a type of allergic reaction) increase greatly when undiluted essential oils are put on the skin and the risk of systemic toxicity and drug interactions also increases. I want to repeat that because it’s important – using undiluted essential oils on the skin substantially increases the risk of skin irritation and sensitization reactions and also increases the risk of systemic toxicity and drug interaction.

Risk of Systemic Toxicity

While the risk of systemic toxicity from a reasonable external application of  the essential oils used by responsible aromatherapists  is very low, the occurrence of skin sensitization reactions has been increasing in the United States as a few companies here have irresponsibly recommended the topical use of undiluted essential oils. Even lavender essential oil, which was once considered by most aromatherapists to be safe for undiluted use, is now being found to produce sensitization in some individuals, apparently as a consequence of over-use in undiluted applications.

Not everyone who uses undiluted essential oils will develop sensitization reactions, and those who do will generally only have problems after repeated use of the same undiluted oil. However, for those unfortunate people who do experience these often avoidable reactions, the experience can be very distressing as it can be accompanied by severe itching that lasts for days. This may leave the affected individual more likely to develop such reactions to other topically applied substances in the future. Why would anyone want to take such risks when diluted essential oils are much safer and work very well to achieve the desired therapeutic effects?

Reasonable Dilution Rates

Here are reasonable dilution rates for several methods of topical use of essential oils:

Procedure Recommended Range of Essential Oil Concentration
Full-body Massage 1.5 – 3%
Facial Care 0.2 – 1.5%
Bath & Body Products 1.5 – 4%
Wounds / Necrotic Skin Ulcers 5 – 15% (in a small area)
Localized Pain 5-15%
Other Localized Issues 3-10%

These are general guidelines and extra care must be utilized with essential oils that are known to be sensitizing, irritating and/or phototoxic, some of which have specific maximum dermal concentration levels.