Patchouli Incense & Essential Oil

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incense_bundleMany people today think of patchouli oil as something only from the 60′s, however it has many useful therapeutic properties. Patchouli is used in incense,  aromatherapy for dry, chapped, or weathered skin, oily complexions, and wrinkles. It is used in Patchouli OILThumbChina, Japan, and Malaysia herbally to treat colds, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and halitosis (bad breath). It is also used as an antidote to poisonous snakebites in Malaysia and Japan. It also has properties that are useful for stress-related complaints and frigidity which could be how the ‘free love’ ideals that were prevalent in the 60′s.

Patchouli Essential Oil

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What is Patchouli?

patchouli_leavesPatchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth; also patchouly orpachouli) is a species from the genus Pogostemon and a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet (about 0.75 metre) in height and bearing small pale pink-white flowers. The plant is native to tropical regions of Asia and is now extensively cultivated in Caribbean countries, China, India, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, West Africa and Vietnam.

The scent of patchouli is heavy and strong. It has been used for centuries in perfumes, incense, oils and bath salts which continues to be so today.

Patchouli OILThumbExtraction of patchouli essential oil is by steam distillation, requiring the cell walls of the leaves to be first ruptured. This can be achieved by steam scalding, light fermentation, or by drying.

Patchouli leaves are harvested several times a year, and where dried may be exported for distillation of the oil. Sources disagree over how to obtain the best quality oil. Some claim the highest quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves, distilled close to the plantation, while others claim baling the dried leaves and allowing them to ferment a little is best.

Also sometimes used to describe the scent of Megan Faye.


In Europe and the US, patchouli incense and oil underwent a surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly among devotees of the free love and hippie lifestyles.

Conditioner and repellent

Patchouli has also been used as a hair conditioner for dreadlocks. One study suggests Patchouli oil may serve as an all-purpose insect repellent.

Medicinal uses

TWSLargeIn several Asian countries, such as Japan and Malaysia, Patchouli is also used as an antidote for venomous snakebites. The patchouli plant and patchouli oil have many claimed health benefits in herbal folk-lore and the scent is used to induce relaxation. Chinese medicine uses the herb to treat headaches, colds, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Patchouli oil can be purchased from mainstream Western pharmacies and alternative therapy sources as an patchouli aromatherapy oil.

Patchouli is also in widespread use in modern industry. It is a popular component in perfumes, including more than half of perfumes for men Patchouli is also an important ingredient in East Asian incense. It is also used as a scent in products like paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners. Two important components of the essential oil are patchoulol and norpatchoulenol.

During the 18th and 19th century silk traders from China travelling to the Middle East packed their silk cloth with dried patchouli leaves to prevent moths from laying their eggs on the cloth. Many historians speculate that this association with opulent eastern goods is why patchouli incense was considered by Europeans of that era to be a luxurious scent. It is said that Patchouli was used in the linen chests of Queen Victoria in this way.

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