Patchouli is a species of plant from the family Lamiaceae, commonly called the ”mint” or ”deadnettle” family. Like mint, the essential oil is found on the leaves, and if you were to touch and rub them between your fingers, you could easily detect and recognise its beautifully herbaceous scent. The plant grows as a bushy herb, reaching around 75 centimetres in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. It is native to tropical regions of Asia, but it is now extensively cultivated in countries like China, Indonesia, India, Madagascar, Taiwan or South America. 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.
Patchouli’s name originated from the early Tamil people of South India, who are said to have connected to its deep, rich aromatic palette. Centuries later, patchouli arrived in the Middle East along the silk trading routes, and supposedly it was Napoleon who introduced the exotic and intoxicating scent to Europe. As exquisite textiles, spices and objects were making their way westward along these trade routes, the fragrant patchouli leaves were packed inside the trunks of silks, carpets and other treasures to protect against moths and other insects. And when European merchants would open these trunks and prepare their products for sale, the strong earthy aroma of patchouli would embrace them. Patchouli soon became inextricably linked to the exotic objects of the Far East; it was associated with all that was different from Western culture. In fact, if a silk or a carpet didn’t smell like patchouli, merchants along the trade routes doubted its authenticity.
Patchouli essential oil is great for balancing out the skin’s own sebum production, it’s both cleansing and fortifying. It is an excellent antibacterial, anti fungal and anti viral. Patchouli Essential Oil is also deeply relaxing and sedating, and can greatly improve a mediation practice by soothing the mind from excess thoughts and worry. Its deep and musky scent can be arousing, allowing a sense of confidence and freedom.