Patchouli Oil - The Scent of the Counterculture Makes a Comeback


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Oh the infamous Patchouli essential oil - This well know aromatic essence carries a deserved reputation as the scent of the counterculter generation, first gaining fame as a cover up for the aroma of another burning herb. Patchouli's traditional aromatic and medicinal uses, however, date back perhaps thousands of years. Today, Patchouli (sometimes written ‘Patchouly') has an honored place in aromatherapy and natural perfumery, with it's deep, musky, and sweet scent, and emotionally balancing properties.

Patchouli is a perennial herb originating in tropical Asia, growing wild at elevations between 3,000 and 6,000 feet, with farming more pervasive in the lowland tropical jungles of India and Indonesia. This bushy plant grows to one meter, with a powerful stem and soft, hair-covered leaves. The plant is harvested two or three times per year, with the best quality essential oil derived from leaves cut in the rainy seasons. The leaves are hand picked and drirf in the shade, fermenting for a few days before the oil is extracted via steam distillation. The fermentation process softens the plant's cell walls, easing the extraction of the oil, though it doesn't significantly add to the oils’ distinctive odor.

Patchouli oil's prices are low in comparison to other essential oils because of the plant's high yield. Further, Patchouli can be stored for long periods, being one of the few essential oils that improve with age. Over time, the oil looses a harshness that many find distasteful, and adds a sweet top note. As it ages, the oil turns from light yellow to a deep viscous amber, with the aroma becoming smoother and more rich.

The aroma of Patchouli was pervasive in cloth and clothing exported from India in the 19th century, as it was found effective at preventing insects from devouring natural fabrics. The scent became an indicator of true Oriental cloth, so much so that European clothing makers were obliged to douse their products with Patchouli to ensure acceptance in the marketplace. sPatchouli oil has been used for centuries in traditional medicines in Asia, indicated for skin conditions. Patchouli can help with dermatitis, eczema, acne, dry chapped skin, and other irritating conditions, along with dandruff and oily scalp conditions. It may help in healing wounds and reducing the appearance of scars, acting as a stimulant for skin rejuvenation. Further, Patchouli is considered an excellent remedy for insect and snake bites, and when used as a fumigant, it may prevent the spread of infectious fever and support the immune system.

Patchouli oil is a premier base note and fixative in perfume blends, being included in a host of well-known perfumes and colognes. In blends, it limits the evaporation of lighter oils so that their aroma may be released more slowly. Small amounts of Patchouli can be used in natural perfume blends, adding that unique earthy aroma. It mixes well with several other aromatherapy oils, though care should be taken not to overwhelm other scents when creating blends.

For therapeutic applications, Patchouli is considered a premier bringer of balance, with a combination of relaxing AND stimulating effects. It is said to bring the three principal forces at work within the body - creative, heart-center, and intellectual - in-synch. Patchouli can reduce strain of those with excessive mental activity who may feel ‘out of touch’ with their body and sensuality. It has been considered a relaxing aphrodisiac, and can be helpful for those with *** anxiety. Patchouli combines this aphrodisiac effect with an antidepressant one, uplifting the mind with it's sweet, warm, spicy scent. Again, because of it's very strong aromatic properties, very small doses can be used - a little dabbed in special places on the body will go a long way.

To further add to it's lore, Patchouli is thought to be a bringer of prosperity and abundance to the lives of those exposed to it's aroma. The oil is used in ceremonies and rituals by those in need of monetary or other type of infusion. A simple method to employ Patchouli's power is to close the eyes and visualize the abundance actually coming into one's environment while inhaling the oil's aroma.

To try some fun natural perfume blends including Patchouli, one can create these mixtures of essential oils: Three parts Patchouli to one part Rosemary Verbenone - This creates a very uplifting blend with the earthy, grounding energy of Patchouli with the herbaceous, almost floral scent of Rosemary oil. If you're needing a break from the daily grind, experiment with three parts Coriander seed oil, two parts Patchouli and one part Bergamot oil (pressed from bitter oranges). For those wishing to uncover their sensuality, try one part Geranium Rose oil, one part Patchouli and one part Bergamot oil used as a perfume - this simple blend with a glorious aroma was created for helping one be comfortable with their own body.

There's a little background on this well-known but somewhat mysterious essential oil. With it's many wonderful uses, Patchouli is worth a little experimentation - and for those who have disliked the aroma in the past, a good quality, well-aged oil is worth investigation. Some who once turned their nose up at the sharp scent have found they truly enjoy a smooth, well-rounded Patchouli essential oil.

Misty Rae Cech, ND is a natural health professional and yoga instructor in Boulder, Colorado. She is the co-owner of the Ananda Apothecary at , a source for several wonderful aroma's of Patchouli.


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