Patchouli essential oil

Botanical name: pogostemon cablin
Botanical family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Country of origin: Indonesia* and Philippines, Malaysia, China, India
Steam distilled from the leaves of the shrub
Keywords: Earthy, grounding, rich

Today’s topic is the profile of patchouli essential oil. Patchouli has a powerful aroma and you either love it or hate it. People tend to have a strong opinion on this oil, one way or the other. I’m one of those people who doesn’t actually love the aroma of straight up patch, but I have a deep respect for what this essential oil brings to the table- so I formulate blends and products which include patchouli essential oil. It actually blends very well with many other oils- more on that later.

Why patchouli is a star

Let’s take a dive into the chemistry of patchouli to discover why I can’t help but appreciate it. Warning- nerd alert on following info.

Reason #1: Patchouli contains 25-30% patchoulol, which is

  • antibacterial
  • antifungal
  • antiviral
  • prevents and soothes skin inflammation

Reason #2: Patchouli contains 14-18% delta-guaiene. This also prevents and soothes skin inflammation.

Reason #3: Patchouli contains 12-15% alphaguaiene. This antibacterial agent helps to prevent and treat skin infections. Practically speaking, you can use patchouli as a tool to help treat:

  • fungal infections
  • inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis
  • wound care

Reason #4: Patchouli contains 4.8-9.3% beta-patchoulene, which soothes skin inflammation.

Reason #5: There is some evidence to suggest that patchouli has antioxidant activity as a radical scavenger. This is good news for sun damaged, mature and dry skin.

More compelling reasons why patchouli is a star

You may have noticed that patchouli has a lot of soothing qualities. Not only is it soothing on the skin, but is also soothing to the mind and body. This makes it ideal for use in a massage or hydrotherapy (bath) application. People have used patchouli:

  • to promote relaxation after a stressful day
  • as an anti depressant (mild cases- if you struggle with severe depression you should consult your healthcare provider for treatment)
  • as a natural deodorant or perfume
  • to help relieve constipation
  • as an aphrodisiac
  • in anti-aging products
  • as an insect repellent (up to 5 hours)
  • to control oily hair and skin
  • help promote collagen production and promote cell regeneration

Dark vs Light

People wonder what the difference is between dark patchouli and light patchouli. Here’s the lowdown:

Dark patchouli: Distilled using iron stills. This results in a darker, richer color and aroma.

Light patchouli: Distilled using stainless steel stills. This oils is lighter in color, and not as strong an aroma.

(In case you are wondering, I only use dark patchouli from Indonesia to use in my blends and products.)

Other little tidbit

Patchouli ages very gracefully (longer shelf life than other essential oils). This oil is a good investment, as when stored properly, it will last from 2-5 years.

Patchouli plays well with others

You can blend patchouli nicely with the following essential oils:

  • bergamot
  • cedarwood
  • clary sage
  • frankincense
  • geranium
  • orange
  • sandalwood
  • lavender
  • rose
  • jasmine

Quick safety

Use with caution during pregnancy after first trimester, lower dilution rate (use less essential oils).
Patchouli is anticoagulant. Avoid using it if on blood thinners, and before and after any surgeries. Patchouli may interact with aspirin and other blood thinning medications.

Explore Aromatherapy with Deanna Russell


The aromatherapy beauty guide: using the science of carrier & essential oils to create natural personal care products by Danielle Sade
Handbook of formulating natural cosmetics by Anthony Dweck
Evidence based essential oil therapy by Dr. Scott A Johnson
Essential oil safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young

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