Essential Oil of the Month
Cradled in mother nature's arms
THE “Flower Power” era of the 1960s was very influenced by the prevalent scent of patchouli essential oil; which still arouses nostalgic memories amongst old hippies.
The oil’s complete history however, like almost all essential oils, goes much further back.
The name Patchouli is derived from Hindustan and has a long history of traditional use in Malaysia, India, China and Japan where it was believed to prevent the spread of disease when used as an antiseptic fumigant and rubbing oil.
Medicinally it was used to treat colds, headaches, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. It had a good reputation as an antidote for snake and insect bites.
Indian cashmere shawls were protected from moths by storing them amongst the dried patchouli leaves. In Victorian times sachets were made with patchouli to scent linen and deter bugs.
Today Patchouli is still used to effectively protect clothes and carpets from insect infestation and damage.
For first aid, patchouli exhibits very good cicatrising, or wound healing qualities, and an astringent nature for cleaning out tissue and cooling inflamed skin issues; (especially if the skin is wet and oozing). It is excellent in treating innumerable skin conditions such as healing inflammation, dermatitis, sores and eczema.
Patchouli does not cause irritation and can sometimes be applied neat to inflamed and cracked skin; which could be a good remedy for fungal infections or athletes foot. As an antibacterial and anti-viral oil, it may be used for acne, impetigo and herpes. Combine it with geranium and cypress oil to make a blend suitable for hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Patchouli has been used to treat yeast infections, both in the mouth and the vagina. Blend it with a little tea-tree oil well diluted, as a douche solution for vaginal infections. It may be included or added to shampoos and conditioners to help alleviate dandruff and discourage falling hair. Patchouli is naturally deodorising and is a pertinent addition to deodorant blends, especially as it helps to reduce heavy sweating.
In skincare, it is particularly suited to oily and mature skins. It acts to regenerate healthy skin cells, which can reduce the visibility of scar tissue. Use this toning essential oil in a body massage blend to help tighten loose skin, especially after weight loss.
Such a blend also helps to curb the appetite if reducing is the goal and also aids in processing fat cells as well improving liver and kidney function.
A FEW drops on the collarbones can help ground mental energies, especially where there is over-thinking and excessive worry.
VAPOURISE patchouli in a meditation room to assist in quietening a monkey mind and centering the thoughts.
BURN patchouli to put life back into perspective, and calm mental anguish and recover an ebbing self esteem.
PRACTICE deep breathing while inhaling patchouli oil to focus your intent on being completely in your physical body with your heart open.
ADD three drops of patchouli and two drops of lavender oil to 1tsp of vegetable oil and apply to itchy skin three times a day for relief.
MASSAGE patchouli into the stomach meridian to be more grounded in the physical and produce the energy to take action.
STIMULATE Earth energy by massaging the intestine reflex points of the hands and feet.
ALLEVIATE depression by massaging patchouli on the bridge of the nose.
This dispersing oil shows diuretic action applied to areas where water retention is a problem; include it in blends to treat cellulite and improve lymph flow. Any massage blend with patchouli added will also help with muscle knots and spasms as well as help to ease diarrhoea.
This warm, sweet oil is ideal for people with a chi deficiency in the spleen-pancreas; these people are identifiable by their regular fatigue, loose stools accompanied by abdominal distension.
Patchouli is very relevant for conditions that are a result of a weak immune system; often because chronic anxiety and work overload has left them vulnerable.
From an energetic perspective, patchouli is warm in nature and yet anti-inflammatory in action. Synergistic in effect, patchouli is sedative in low dosages and stimulating in high dosage; which is helpful to know when blending for emotional issues.
Psychologically, patchouli is soothing, stabilising and slightly hypnotic and may be employed to relieve stress, particularly for those suffering from anxiety and depression. The oil tends to balance the central nervous system, be it over or under-stimulated, restoring equilibrium, which is a boon for countering burnout and dispelling the blues.
Earthy and sensual
Day-dreamers and certainly the vague and distracted can benefit from the earthy and sensual nature of this oil, bringing them more back to earth with its grounding qualities. Overly intellectual people can balance their too-cerebral natures with patchouli; as patchouli works by harmonising the earth element with the intellect. It brings such people back in touch with their body and their sensuality.
It is interesting to consider that during the 1960s’ liberal time of mind-altering drugs; the perfume that was so fashionable and desired at the time was patchouli, the very grounding scent that was clearly needed.
Patchouli is a powerful aphrodisiac scent that reputedly increases libido. It blends beautifully with ylang-ylang and jasmine to perform its best job as a deeply penetrating relaxation tool for sexual anxiety.
Its aphrodisiac effect combined with anti-depressive qualities adds extra efficacy to treatments for sexual disorders of an emotional variety. It restores our sense of sensual pleasure and creativity; not only arousing and uplifting but also facilitating the fertile imagination.
Patchouli develops a reverent attitude towards the sacredness of life and opens us up willingly to the learning experience that life’s challenges bring to us. It encourages us to question established beliefs, which in turn lets us evolve and expand our consciousness.
Patchouli strongly represents the Earth element, re-establishing a strong connection to the healing forces of nature.
The fear of survival and sexual issues are resolved by unlocking the root and sacral chakras; and such resolution helps align their energy with the heart chakra, enhancing our faith in Spirit.
This means we are more grounded in the present moment and can simply surrender to just being. Ultimately there can be no complete healing until we have restored our primal trust in life.
Latin name: Pogostemon cablin
What is it? A native to South-east Asia, patchouli is a bushy perennial shrub that thrives in the tropical rain forest in rich fertile soil. (It grows in the wild in Sumatra and Java between altitudes of 900 and 1800 metres.) It has large, furry green leaves, a sturdy stem and fragrant white blossoms with a slight purple hue. The plant grows to 1m.
Scent: Rich, earthy and spicy even woody in nature. Patchouli, with its heavy, persistent, incense-like overtones can be very permeating with a tendency to mask other scents.
Patchouli oil blends well with: bergamot, black pepper, clary-sage, cedar wood, clove, frankincense, geranium, ginger, lavender, lemongrass, myrrh, neroli, pine, rose, sandalwood, vetivert, jasmine.
Therapeutic properties: Antidepressant, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cicatrisant (wound healing), cytophylactic, (encourages skin growth) deodorant, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge (cools fever), fungicide, insecticide, sedative, tonic.
Precautions: Non-toxic, non-sensitizing and non-irritant.
Essential oil properties: Patchouli is usually quite viscous with a deep orange-red colour, which becomes more amber-orange as it matures. The mature oil is more valued by perfumers for its depth and complexities; it is one of the few essential oils that improve with age. A lighter variety of oil that is clear with a pale yellowish-green colour is also available. The oil is distilled from handpicked young leaves and then dried and fermented for three days before distillation. The crop is cut up to three times per year, the best quality being harvested in the wet season. It is mainly produced in Indonesia and well as India, Malaysia, Burma and Paraguay.