When we think of Patchouli, it is often associated with the hippy movement of the 60’s. However there is much more to this plant and the wonderful pungent oil it produces. The plant itself is a native of Malaysia and is now cultivated in various S.E Asian countries. It is bushy in character and has white, purple-tinged flowers and soft furry leaves. A thick amber-coloured oil is extracted from its young leaves. The oil has a rich, musky, earth scent which may not be appealing to some. In the East, Patchouli is used to scent cloth and interestingly in the Victorian times in India, it was used to scent shawls to protect from moths.
The use of Patchouli oil is considered soothing to the mind. It promotes a sense of balance and banishes lethargy. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and fungicidal. Known as a tonic, it is regarded as a general body strengthener. It is useful in skin care as it is known to aid tissue regeneration in regrowth of skin cells and scars. It reduces fever and cools inflamed skin. It is also an excellent fixative and is widely used for this purpose in perfumery.
Another interesting feature of this oil is that it has long been used in traditional Eastern medicine as an insecticide, and for treating snake-bites and poisonous insect stings.