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Patchouli - Pogostemon cablin syn. P. Patchouli

A genus of 40 species of herbs resembling Balm or Nettle in appearance, with oval shaped serated leaves and whorls of white to light-purple flowers. The leaves are aromatic and the plant, which is a perennial, can grow up to 3 ft. Traditionally the crop would be cut two or three times a year, the leaves gathered and either steam distilled to obtain the essential oil, or dried. The essential oil has an earthy quality and is rather thick and dark brown, often with a green tinge. The active principles are mainly patchoulene (which is similar in structure to azulene which is anti-inflammatory), patchoulol and norpatchoulol.

Patchouli is widely used in Asia and India. Genuine Indian shawls and Indian Ink is distinguished by the odour of Patchouli, but it wasn't until the beginning of the 19th Century that it became popular in the West : Paisley weavers of Scotland made shawls to Indian designs which were then exported to Europe and further afield. The fabric was impregnated with the Patchouli fragrance (like the shawls worn by Indian women) and without this odour it was apparently impossible to sell them!

In traditional Asian medicine Patchouli is largely used for its aphrodisiac, antidepressant and antiseptic properties. In China and Japan Patchouli has a long history of use as a stimulant, tonic, febrifuge, antiseptic, insecticide and for treating snake-bites and the stings of posinous insects. It has also been used as a perfume for centuries (in the East).
In Western Aromatherapy Patchouli is commonly used for skin complaints, where it is found to have a regenerative effect on skin tone and can help remedy eczema, cracked skin, acne and scar tissue. It is also highly effective as a remedy for anxiety, depression and stress-related conditions - all of which may also be the cause of some of the skin complaints mentioned previously. Patchouli is also a useful remedy for PMS, water retention and cellulite - try a few drops of Patchouli and Geranium essential oils diluted in 10-20mls carrier oil (sweet almond is a good all-round carrier oil) and use as a massage oil or add to bath water.

In folklore and magic Patchouli is associated with prosperity, abundance and money.


pale leaves

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