The History and Benefits of Patchouli Essential Oil


Known for its distinct earthy, sweet scent and heavy use in the 60's, Patchouli essential oil, derived from the patchouli plant is a popular oil used for centuries throughout the world. Patchouli is a part of the Lamiaceae family, other notable plants within this family are Mint, Sage and Lavender. The herb thrives in warm and tropical climates, originating and still grown in Asia, it is also cultivated in Western Africa, India, China and even parts of the USA, such as Florida, California and Arizona.

Patchouli is Native to Asia

Although Patchouli native to Asia, its first applications were actually developed in South India, it was used mainly as a medicine while also finding use as an insect repellant and even in herbal teas! Hundreds of years later it found its way to the middle east via trade routes, but it wasn't until much later in human history when it became an easily recognisable fragrance and commodity in Europe and the other western civilisations. That said it was a valuable commodity in ancient Egypt, Tutankhamun had ten gallons of this oil buried with him in his tomb!

A rather surprising and dark historical use, Patchouli was commonly used to mask the smell of human decomposition during funerals for the dead during the 17th to 19th centuries due to its intense scent, in fact the name Patchouli is believed to have come from the Hindi word 'pacholi', which means 'to scent’.

Associated With High Fashion and Wealth

During the early 1800's, it found use as an insect repellent for keeping bugs at bay while transporting garments from Asia to the rest of the world. The scent doubled up as a mark of authenticity for genuine eastern fabrics, such as silk around the time. It became associated with high fashion and wealth - everybody wanted to smell like patchouli! In fact it was so highly valued at this point that traders would exchange a pound of patchouli for a pound of gold.

It was in the 1960's and 70's however, that patchouli hit its peak popularity, some people go so far as to call it "the scent of the 60's". ‘Hippies’ used it to mask the smell of marijuana and it was a staple ingredient in some of the top selling fragrances of the time, while also being used a lot in products such as incense. Madonna even had drops of Patchouli oil applied to the packaging of vinyl, CDs and cassettes for her album 'Like a Prayer', apparently to "evoke the age of Aquarius".

Although the most ideal environment for Patchouli to grow would be in a naturally hot one, it can be easily grown in a colder environment and in fact almost anywhere in the world with a little time, effort and the use of some fairly basic equipment, in fact Patchouli kits are readily available to anybody wanting to have a try. Its versatility means it can be grown indoors or outdoors, basically anywhere where a temperature of 15 degrees or higher can be maintained, naturally or artificially while the herb also requires access to 6 or more hours of sunlight per day. The Patchouli essential oil is made using the simple process of drying out the leaves and stems of the herb and extracting the oil through a distillation process.

Uses and Benefits

Today, Patchouli essential oil has its many uses and benefits ranging from health and cosmetic to even spiritual and holistic. The oil can be used topically (applied to the skin) on hair, in fragrances and even in aromatherapy. When used in aromatherapy, Patchouli oil is used to create an atmosphere of relaxation. Some people use it during meditation and for spiritual enlightenment, others to relieve stress, anxiety and depression while boosting moods and also helping with Insomnia. Sworn to also be a popular aphrodisiac, a few drops of this sensual oil are said to stimulate the sex glands, increasing sexual response and libido. Applied directly to the skin, it has anti-inflammatory properties which helps to soothe the skin and speed up the healing process for wounds and scars. It is brilliant for treating dry, itchy, cracked skin and other more serious conditions such as dermatitis and acne. Due to the nature of Patchouli's build and composure, it is able to harmonise sebum production, which is usually a big cause for many skin problems and conditions. As it is antibacterial, so it is fantastic for helping fight against these problems, while protecting your skin and helping to prevent the condition from returning. It can also help boost blood circulation while locking in moisture and good oils your skin produces, resulting in a youthful, healthy appearance.

It has also been claimed that it can even aid in weight loss when taken orally but this needs studying in further detail to prove conclusive. When applied to the hair, the oils penetrate deep into the roots and follicles leaving it stronger, thicker and healthier. Used as part of a regular hygiene routine, Patchouli essential oil can help clear up dandruff, eczema and psoriasis leaving the scalp (or chin) feeling healthier than ever. Another big benefit is its rejuvenative properties on hair; this wondrous oil may help promote faster and thicker growth and is known to even help with baldness.

Patchouli in Men's Grooming

With men's grooming and the products associated with it as popular as ever, more men are trying and testing out different types of beard oils and beard balms to keep their facial hair looking in tip top condition.

Patchouli oil works its way fantastically into coarse facial hair, moisturising, providing shine and promoting thickness all while leaving a fresh scent behind too! Used in conjunction with other oils such as Lanolin, Shea Butter, Black pepper and Jojoba oil they all help create the ultimate combative product 'Cutthroat Black Cedar Beard Oil' or 'Cutthroat Black Cedar Beard Balm' for skin and hair quality

Make sure to buy only the most premium beard oils and beard balms to get the most out of your beard and your shaving routine, like our Cutthroat brand. Based in New Zealand, we create our beard balms and beard oils in small batches made by hand by Gents barber shop in Queenstown, New Zealand so you can have the confidence to know that you are using the best products available to help keep your beard thick, healthy and full of life with just as healthy and smooth skin underneath.