About Patchouli

The Plant

Patchouli, pogostomen cablin, is a bush that grows wild in Java and Sumatra, and has been cultivated in India for centuries.  The name Patchouli comes from the Tamil patchai ellai, meaning “green leaf.”  The plants need six to nine months to reach maturity, and thereafter leaves can be harvested about every four months.   Skill is required to pluck the soft, hairy leaves correctly so that

the plants will grow back as quickly as possible.   A member of the mint family, Patchouli grows to about 1 meter.

The Oil

Heavy, earthy, musty and pungent, Patchouli oil evokes strong, polarizing reactions—people either love it or hate it!  Fans call it exotic and sensual; detractors say it is overpowering and objectionable.  The oil is light yellow at first, eventually turning amber to deep golden brown.  Like Vetiver, Patchouli oil improves with age, and initial harshness mellows into a more complex, smoother scent with a fruity top note.

Story Time

For hundreds of years Patchouli leaves were used to keep moths and other insects out of silk, linen and woolen shawls and rugs.  This caused people in Western countries to associate the mysterious smell of Patchouli with authentic textiles imported from the East.

During the Hippy revolution of the 1960’s, many imports from India were suddenly fashionable, such as yoga, meditation, the sitar…and Patchouli.  It is not unreasonable to say that Patchouli became the unofficial scent of the sixties, and Patchouli incense and oil is still associated with that time period by an entire generation of people.  Many theories explain Patchouli’s popularity with the hippies, but it didn’t hurt that it arrived from India with a reputation as an aphrodisiac!

Current Uses

Patchouli is used extensively in perfumery as a base note and as a fixative to help lock together delicate formulas.

 
It is also used to scent incense, paper products, detergents, air fresheners, soaps, shampoos, and deodorants.  

Herbal folklore claims that Patchouli can heal cracked or infected skin, cure athlete’s foot, relieve headaches and eliminate dandruff. 

Patchouli  is still used as an insect repellant.

Links

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patchouli


http://aromatherapy.suite101.com/article.cfm/patchouli_essential_oil

http://health.howstuffworks.com/aromatherapy-patchouli.htm

http://www.pioneerthinking.com/mrc_patchouli.html

 

Gallery Photos: 
Patchouli Plants Under Cultivation
Patchouli Plants Under Cultivation
Patchouli Plants Under Cultivation

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