Essential Oil Profile: Patchouli

By Amelia E. Stone, RN


Common Name: Patchouli

Latin Binomial: Pogostemom cablin

Family: Labiatae or Lamiaceae

Other Common Names: Patchouly oil

Production Method: steam-distilled

Countries of Origin: India

Typical Constituents: α-pinene (.05-1%), b-pinene (0.5-1%), limonene (trace), b-elemene (1%),               α-bulnesene (10-25%), b- bulnesene (14-17.2%), α-guaiene (6-15%), b-guaiene, α-patchoulene (1.9-5.7%), b-patchoulene (2.9-3.8%), seychellene  (5-9.4%), cyclo-seychellene (<1%), b-Caryophyllene (2-4.2%), δ-cadinene (1-2.8%), aromadendrene (10-20%), caryophyllene (3.6-20%), pathchoulol (32-46%), pogostol (1-2.2%), bulnesol (1%),  norpatchoulenol (0.5-0.6%), patchoulenone (tr-2.2%), isopatchoulenone (1%), α-guaiene oxide (1%), α-bulneseneoxide (4%), caryophyllene oxide (2%)

Description of Oil: dark orange or brownish in color, viscous, rich, sweet, herbaceous, spicy, woody and balsamic odor.

Description of Plant: tropical perennial shrub, large green leaves and small white-purple flowers.

History, Folklore and Myth: Dried patchouli leaves were placed amongst amongst the folds of Indian cashmere, linens and garments to repel moths and small insects.  Arabs used it to perfume carpets and the Chinese produced a perfumed ink for use on scrolls.  In the 1960’s patchouli became a signature scent often used to mask the tarry odor of marijuana.

Properties and Uses: antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, deodorant, fungicide, insecticide, sedative

Precautions and Contraindications: non-toxic, non-irritating, and non-sensitising.

Other Interesting Information: The leaves must be dried and fermented before the oil is extracted.  In Chinese medicine patchouli is used to treat colds, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

References: Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Shaftesbury, Dorset. Element Books. 1995.

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005

Shutes, Jade. Advanced Aromatherapy Certification Program. East-West School for Herbal and Aromatic Studies. 2014

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