This week’s essential oil Wonder of the Week is patchouli. Patchouli is actually part of the mint family, but has its own unique scent. Patchouli has a musky, spicy-sweet, intoxicating, sensuous scent, and is often used in yoga to create a grounding and calm atmosphere. The essential oil is popular in soaps and lotions, aromatherapy, yoga, cosmetics, candles and perfumes. It has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years to treat skin irritations, dry scalp and eczema. Early European travellers considered patchouli extremely valuable and would exchange one pound of gold for one pound of patchouli! The perfume-like patchouli leaves were packed inside rolls of silks and fabrics to protect from insects on the long trade routes, and the distinctive scent was a tell sign if the fabrics were authentic.
In aromatherapy, patchouli’s calming aroma dissolves stress, can relieve depression and is a mood enhancer. The intoxicating scent promotes the release of the hormones serotonin and dopamine and encouraging feelings of relaxation. In massage therapy, the oil stimulates circulation and encourages cell regeneration due to its vasodilating and vasorelaxation properties.
Medicinal uses include antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, speeding up wound healing, treating fungal infections and a sedative action. Patchouli oil can be applied topically, but you may want to dilute it in a carrier oil first as it has a very powerful aroma. Apply to wounds as an antiseptic and to help heal faster. Patchouli offers a cooling sensation (the mint family genes showing here) and can help bring down a fever and temperature.
Patchoulihas a number of beauty applications such as being a skin toner, acting as an astringent, helping smooth out cellulite and preventing premature aging. It boosts circulation and cell regeneration and can help the skin look more youthful and glowy. Patchouli is wonderful at balancing the skin's sebum production. Add a few drops to some coconut oil and apply to your body to reduce wrinkles, tighten the skin and banish blemishes. Add 5 drops of patchouli to your DIY lotion to help heal scars, moisturise dry skin or balance acne-prone skin.
Patchouli and Lavender Body Balm
1/4 c shea butter
1/3 c coconut oil
1/2 c olive oil
2 tsp beeswax pellets
18 drops lavender essential oil
12 drops patchouli essential oil
Melt the coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil and beeswax together in a bowl over simmering water. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then add in the essential oils. Pour the mixture into a tin or glass jar and store in a cool place.
Patchouli can also act as a fungicide and insect repellent, and eliminates bad odours.
Diffuse the oil in a burner or diffuser to wind down after a busy day, or add a drop or two to your bath. Patchouli acts as a lovely air freshener, particularly in the bedroom. Add a few drops to a spray bottle of water and spray around the bedroom at night before sleeping.
Patchouli is highly complementary to vanilla and other sweet scented oils such as clary sage, sandalwood, geranium, myrrh, lavender or cinnamon. Mix together to make a diffusion blend, or add to your homemade skin and beauty products. Patchouli oil is unique in that it improves with age, like a fine wine. The oil becomes more viscous, becomes deeper in colour and new, richer scent notes emerge. This is why it is so popular in perfumery.
Patchouli Perfume Blend
10 ml carrier oil such as coconut or jojoba
5 drops base note: patchouli
3 drops middle note: geranium, lavender, palma rosa or chamomile
2 drops top note: cinnamon, clary sage, or citrus oils such as sweet orange, mandarin, or neroli
roll on glass bottle
Combine the essential oils in the bottle then add the carrier (you may need to melt first if using coconut oil).