Patchouli is an herb that belongs to the mint family and grows as shrubs that are two or three feet tall. The leaves are used to make the heavy and strong scent that it gives out. It has been in use for centuries in perfumes. Its use as incense, alternative medicine and insect repellents is of more recent origin. The plant can be grown from the seed produced by its pink white flowers or from cuttings grown in water. Rocky Mountain Oils is one of the places that will consistently have Patchouli, read on to find out more about the essential oil!
The essential oil of patchouli comes from steam distillation of its leaves. Leaves are harvested a number of times a year, and may be dried for use elsewhere or distilled directly. It is believed that the direct distillation of fresh leaves gives the highest quality of oil. The plant grows in the tropical regions of Asia and West Africa, where such distillation plants may not be easy to set up. That is why, it is more common to dry the leaves in the sun and turn them over daily for several days. They can then be baled and stored for dispatch to the oil producing countries or centers.
Patchouli has a base note fragrance that is considered pungent, musky, rich, woody, earthy or heavy. It is not a fragrance that is liked by everybody, and has had a doubtful connection with the hippie culture, where its proponents made very heavy use of its perfumes. The scent lasts for a long time as it is very strong. It has been used as a fixative for perfumes for centuries and even now continues this use. It easily blends with frankincense, clary sage, ylang ylang, geranium, rose and lavender. It can be made into a very attractive blend with a little experimentation.
The fragrance of patchouli develops after oxidation and this is why it improves with age. When it is freshly distilled the oil will be thin in consistency, but as it ages it turns into a syrup and gives a richer and smoother fragrance. The color of the essential oil depends on the vessel in which it is distilled. A distillation in a stainless steel vessel will yield pale yellow light patchouli, whereas traces of iron oxide in iron vessels can turn the oil a reddish brown color to form dark patchouli. Color is not in any way an indication of the quality of the oil, and more one of its production process.
Patchouli is an essential oil that is used in home aroma therapy. It has been a part of folk medicine in the areas where the plant grows naturally, and is used to treat many ailments. It helps to regenerate skin cells, is anti-fungal, has antiseptic properties and helps to reduce inflammation. It is considered as a good application for first aid and can help to reduce irritation from insect bites. It has been used along with other oils for tightening and toning the skin. This helps to reduce cellulite and wrinkles. Its use has been known to reduce depression, anxiety and stress, while in some circles it is considered an aphrodisiac. Its scent has been used to suppress appetite and help in weight loss.