Patchouli Essential Oil
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is a perennial evergreen with violet blooming flowers. Patchouli belongs to the mint (Labiatae) family, and is a close relative of lavender and sage. Patchouli is part of the plant genus Pogostemon.1
Patchouli is believed to originate from the Philippines and today, is grown primarily across Southeast Asia, China and India.1 In China, patchouli has historically been considered a therapeutic herb, and its use has been documented in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over 1000 years.1,2 Previously used to treat fatigue, fever, indigestion and headaches, patchouli has been identified to contain over 40 bioactive components.2
Patchouli essential oil is extracted from the stems and leaves of the patchouli plant.1 The golden-brown oil has been noted to have a rich, earthy aroma. While research is ongoing, patchouli essential oil has been noted to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-mutagenic and stress-relieving properties.2
Patchouli Essential Oil Uses
Patchouli essential oil has many uses in contemporary society beyond its more traditional applications. Patchouli’s earthy fragrance is frequently used in perfumes, laundry detergents, soaps, body lotions, and air fresheners.2 Create your own natural products with the top patchouli essential oil uses below.
Known for its calming aroma, patchouli oil is commonly used for aromatherapy. Add 3-5 drops of patchouli essential oil to a diffuser filled with water. Diffuse for up to 30 minutes. For a more complex fragrance, patchouli has been noted to blend well with frankincense, lavender, and bergamot essential oil.
The antimicrobial properties of patchouli oil can also promote healthy hair. Mixing 2-3 drops of patchouli essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner can help keep your hair and scalp feeling clean.
Due to its antimicrobial properties, patchouli essential oil may be used as a natural antiseptic for minor cuts and abrasions.4 To use, add 5 drops of patchouli essential oil to 1 cup of warm water. Dip a clean cloth into the solution, and gently dab on the affected area.
For a chemical-free deodorant, add 2 oz. of water and 4 drops of patchouli essential oil to a small spray bottle. Shake to mix the solution together. Spray on underarms for a natural, sweet smell that will help keep you smelling fresh throughout the day.
Patchouli essential oil is noted to have anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce skin inflammation.3 Add 5 drops of patchouli essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil or unscented moisturizer and apply to the skin.
Natural Insect Repellent
For a portable insect repellant, add 4 drops of patchouli essential oil to 2 oz. of water in a spray bottle. Spray on exposed skin, avoiding the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
Patchouli essential oil is attributed with having the ability to relax the body.6 These effects may ease anxiety and stress, which may improve overall mood. Add 10 drops of patchouli essential oil to a warm bath for a soothing soak in the tub.
Mix 3-5 drops of patchouli oil into 2 Tbsp. of a carrier oil or unscented body lotion. Gently massage the mixture on affected areas for a relaxing massage.
Natural Sleep Aid
Inhalation of patchouli essential oil has been shown to have calming and even sedative properties.7 Add 5-10 drops of patchouli oil in your home diffuser to help get a good night’s rest.
Benefits of Patchouli Essential Oil
Widely regarded a therapeutic herb, various cultures have been harnessing this plant’s medicinal properties for years. In recent times, scientists have examined the properties of patchouli essential oil to determine its potential health benefits. With valuable insecticide, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-cancer, calming and sedative properties, uncover the amazing benefits of patchouli essential oil.
Natural Insecticidal Properties
In a 2013 study, scientists investigated natural alternatives to synthetic insecticides, which can be harmful to human health. Patchouli essential oil was tested against three species of urban ants to analyze its bio insecticidal activity and repellency. Bioassays of toxicity and repellency were conducted by using the essential oil over the ants while mortality evaluations were performed.3
Results show that the mortality percentage of ants after exposure to the oil was 84%. Patchouli essential oil displayed potent toxicological and repellent properties against all three ant species. Given these results, future studies could show how to help control the insect by further investigating the practical application of patchouli essential oil.3
A separate study conducted in 2005 showed that patchouli essential oil could also be used as an effective mosquito repellant. In laboratory conditions, 0.1ml of undiluted patchouli oil was applied per 30cm2 of exposed skin.4
Out of the 38 essential oils tested, patchouli essential oil was noted to be one of the most effective oils and provided 2 hours of complete repellency. The other essential oils deemed effective against mosquito bites were clove (Syzygium aromaticum), citronella (Cymbopogon nardus), and makaen (Zanthoxylum limonella).4
Isolated from the Pogostemonis Herba (aerial part of the patchouli), patchouli alcohol is a tricyclic sesquiterpene. A 2001 study was conducted to test its pharmacological activities, inspired by the knowledge of Chinese cultures using it in traditional medicine. In the study, mice with xylene-induced ear edema were treated with 10-40 mg/kg of patchouli alcohol. Edema is when the body’s tissues retain too much fluid and swelling occurs. Patchouli alcohol was shown to significantly inhibit the inflammatory condition. These results suggest patchouli alcohol possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties.5
In 1999, 52 plant oils were tested for their antimicrobial effects.4 The essential oils were tested against each strain of bacteria and fungus through an agar diffusion test. Patchouli essential oil was shown to inhibit the growth of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, and the dimorphic (representing two forms) fungus Candida albicans.6
Staphylococcus aureus is most commonly seen in skin infections such as folliculitis, impetigo, and cellulitis. Candida albicans is a fungus that is the main cause of an infection called Candidiasis. Inhibiting the growth of this bacteria and fungus suggests patchouli oil contains important antimicrobial properties.
Patchouli alcohol is an important compound found in patchouli essential oil, and has been recognized for its neuroprotective, anti-influenza, and anti-inflammatory activities. An in vitro study was conducted in 2013 to investigate whether patchouli alcohol affects the proliferation (rapid growth) and apoptosis (cell death) of human colorectal cancer cells.7
In a dose-dependent manner, patchouli oil was found to suppress cell growth and induce apoptosis in the colorectal cancer cells. By decreasing cell growth and increasing apoptosis, these findings suggest patchouli oil exerts anti-cancer activity.7
Note: While the preliminary research looks promising, further studies are needed before essential oils can be used as a complementary treatment. Essential oils should not be used as a replacement for proven treatments.
Stress Relieving Properties
A 2002 study showed that inhalation of patchouli essential oil caused a 40% decrease in relative sympathetic activity. The sympathetic nervous system controls heart rate and blood pressure. It is also responsible for what is commonly titled the fight or flight response. A decrease in sympathetic activity suggests patchouli oil may be a possible method of relax therapy.8
By analyzing motor activity in mice, a 2015 study tested the sedative effects of patchouli essential oil. In a dose-dependent manner, inhalation of patchouli extract exhibited significant sedative activity.9 These findings bolster patchouli essential oil’s calming properties, and provide evidence that patchouli essential oil may be a natural relaxant.
Side Effects of Patchouli Essential Oil
Patchouli essential oil is generally regarded as safe for inhalation and diluted, topical use. Always follow the instructions and do not exceed the recommended dosage suggested on the label. Dilute the essential oil in a carrier product before topical application.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, and can be toxic if ingested. Never consume patchouli essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care provider. Exercise care when using the essential oil on or around children; it is not recommended to use patchouli essential oil during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Where to Buy Patchouli Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Huang, H., Wu, W., Zhang, J., Wang, L., Yuan, Y., & Ge, X. (2016). A genetic delineation of patchouli (pogostemon cablin) revealed by specific‐locus amplified fragment sequencing. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 54(5), 491-501. doi:1111/jse.12195
- He, Y., Xiao, H., Deng, C., Xiong, L., Nie, H., & Peng, C. (2016). Survey of the genome of pogostemon cablin provides insights into its evolutionary history and sesquiterpenoid biosynthesis. Scientific Reports, 6, 26405. doi:1038/srep26405
- Albuquerque, E., Lima, J., & Souza, F. (2013, September). Insecticidal and repellence activity of the essential oil of Pogostemon cablin against urban ants species. Acta Trop, 127(6). DOI:10.1016/j.actatropica.2013.04.011
- Trongtokit, Y. (2005, April). Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytotherapy Research, 19(4), 303-309..DOI:10.1002/ptr.1637
- Li, Y. (2011, December). Anti-inflammatory activity of patchouli alcohol isolated from Pogostemonis Herba in animal models. Fitoterapia, 82(8), 1295-1301.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.fitote.2011.09.003
- Hammer, K. A., Carson, C. F., & Rilery, T. V. (1999). Antimicrobial activity of essential oils and other plant extracts. Applied Microbiology, 86(6), 985-990. DOI:10.1046/j.1365-2672.1999.00780.x
- Jeong, J. (2013). Patchouli alcohol, an essential oil of Pogostemon cablin, exhibits anti-tumorigenic activity in human colorectal cancer cells. International Immunopharmacology, 16(2), 184-190.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.intimp.2013.04.006
- Haze, S., Sakai, K., & Gozu, Y. (2002). Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. Jpn J Pharmacoi, 90(3), 247-253. PMID:12499579
- Ito, K., Akahoshi, Y., & Ito, M. (2015). Sedative effects of inhaled essential oil components of traditional fragrance Pogostemon cablin leaves and their structure-activity relationships. J Tradit Complement Med, 23(6), 140-145. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2015.01.004