Hairy, aromatic perennial growing to 3 ft (1 m). Has square stems, oval leaves, and spikes bearing whorls of white to light-purple flowers.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Malaysia and the Philippines, patchouli is now cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The shoots and leaves are picked 2 or 3 times a year.
Young leaves and shoots, essential oil.
Patchouli contains a volatile oil comprising mainly the sesquiterpenes patchoulol (35%) and bulnesene.
History & Folklore
Patchouli has been used extensively in Asian medicine, featuring in the Chinese, Indian, and Arabic traditions. Its most common use has been as an aphrodisiac. The essential oil is widely employed in India as a fragrance and as an insect repellent.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Patchouli is used in herbal medicine in Asia as an aphrodisiac, antidepressant, and antiseptic. It is also employed for headaches and fever. Patchouli essential oil is used in aromatherapy to treat skin complaints. It is thought to have a regenerative effect on skin tone and to help clear conditions such as eczema and acne. The oil may also be used for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
Do not take essential oil internally.