Patchouli, an aromatic shrub, grows well in warm to tropical climates. It thrives in hot weather but not direct sunlight. If the plant withers due to lack of water, it will recover well and quickly after rain or watering. The seed-producing flowers are very fragrant and blossom in late fall. The tiny seeds may be harvested for planting, but they are very delicate and easily crushed. Cuttings from the mother plant can also be rooted in water to produce additional plants.
Extraction of patchouli’s essential oil is by steam distillation of the dried leaves, requiring rupture of its cell walls by steam scalding, light fermentation, or drying. The main chemical component of patchouli oil is patchoulol, a sesquiterpene alcohol.
The heavy and strong scent of patchouli has been used for centuries in perfumes and, more recently, in incense, insect repellents, and alternative medicines.
Both patchouli oil and patchouli incense underwent a surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in the US and Europe, mainly as a result of the hippie movement of those decades, due to its reputation as an aphrodisiac.
Patchouli, said to be a tissue regenerator helping with the regrowth of the skin cells and the forming scar tissue, is also reputed to be grounding, earthy, balancing. It can also cool inflamed skin conditions.
For your pleasure and for your skin: see the 19 products below in which patchouli features, for its distinctive fragrance, and its healing qualities.