From seed to small shrub, patchouli is widely grown in certain parts of the world and used in many ways that most people would not realize. Sold in a variety of ways, it has become a staple part of life in various countries with varying degrees of being utilized to achieve the desired end results.
A Family History – It Starts With A Seed
Small black seeds are carefully harvested from a previously grown plant for resowing. The seeds themselves are delicate and can easily be crushed rendering them worthless for use. A more preferred way is to take cuttings from the mother plant to be rooted in water. The green leafed bushy herb plant can grow to 3 feet in height under optimum conditions with leaves up to 4 inches long and having an egg shape to them with deep veining and notches. The flowers are small with varying degrees of color from white to pink.
The plants are native to the tropical regions of Asia and now are also grown in parts of South America and the Caribbean. Hot, humid temperatures make this plant thrive and best grown in areas of indirect sunlight. This is a hearty plant that can recover quickly from withering due to lack of water.
Other members of the family include mint, basil, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Depending on the culture of the land, the leaves from the patchouli plants have been used for making herbal teas. Others have used the leaves either as a seasoning or eaten as a vegetable. The herb is not widely used for medical purposes and history has found that the leaves and particularly, the essential oil would best benefit the populations in other ways.
Patchouli Leaves – Shipping Garments
First used by oriental traders to protect precious silks from damage, the practice was deemed successful and other shippers from India to Egypt to France and throughout the world, would begin to use the leaves for the aromatic scent and protection of their goods. By drying them and adding them to cloths and clothing, traders and shippers found that many silks and garments were saved from infestations of fleas, lice, flies and moths from laying their eggs.
With many travels by ship, the scent was noticed and brought to Europe by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte. It was quickly noted by upscale clients but yet the scent was not revealed as to its nature until 1837.
Eventually, women around the world would come to trust only garments from other countries if the signature scent was present. That scent alone meant that sellers of these goods could ask for slightly higher prices and those that purchased would be thought of as being of higher class.
A More Modern World – Commercialization Of A Scent
Using modern technology, patchouli essential oil benefits, have come more to the forefront in many ways other than clothing. By using steam distillation processes, entire new markets would begin to emerge.
* Artwork courtesy of: By Pnd26 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Love it or hate it, patchouli oil has one attribute that it can call its own in uniqueness. As it ages, the strength of the aroma becomes stronger. Unlike many other oils that lose their potency, patchouli goes the other way.
Many will tell you that the scent alone gives them a headache or that it just is not pleasant to their senses. For others, it is one that you can just know when you walk into a room and are able to identify right away and for many sexagenarians, it can bring back many pleasant memories.
Benefits – With Friends
Back in the late 60s to mid 70s, it was cool to use incense, more directly, patchouli infused incense. At the very least, it helped cover up any aroma of marijuana use for those of you that were into it. It could be smelled in head shops and still today, one is able to find such a fragrant stick or two around. Many remember the era and can easily picture a couple of hippies sitting around in room filled with the aroma of the patchouli.
Two compounds are at the forefront of the Pogostemon Cablin plant (patchouli), patcholol and norpatchoulenol, with the later contributing the most to its aroma.
In today’s modern world, the use of patchouli can be found in many products. They include such things as, perfumes, scented soaps, paper towels, laundry detergents and of course, air fresheners. Used in minute amounts, one would hardly notice and some may say that it is being thrust upon the public, undetected, to give one a sense of comfort and trust when using the products.
Just as in the years of so long ago, recent studies have found that the use of patchouli essential oil benefits provides for an excellent way to treat for bug infestations. Great for getting rid of bed bugs as well as an effective treatment against certain types of termites (formosan subterranean). Other research has shown that the use of the oil produces one of the longest lasting, in terms of effects, against mosquitoes and ticks.
A couple of drops on the picnic table and poor old Yogi Bear won’t be bothered anymore.
There are many more benefits and these are targeted towards humans. None are listed in any certain order and just as every person is different, the effects will vary.
- Aromatherapy (this has an effect on the mind and body)
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces fever
- Insecticide ( see above)
- Stimulates the growth of new cells
- Stimulates urination
Patchouli has also been known to aid in the treatment of those that suffer from Epilepsy with regard to seizures. It can also help in reducing convulsive coughs and is regarded as a natural treatment for eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis.
Of course there are additional benefits and one is encouraged to consult with your favorite herbalist or with your doctor for the best use for what ails you.
A Final Word – Strength In Numbers
Just as in the olden days, history tends to repeat itself in many ways and another resurgence may be on the rise again. Made popular in the 1800s, and then again in the late 1960s and into the 70s, in today’s world, with better understanding of patchouli essential oil benefits, several marketing companies have taken on this rich and historical product to expose a once again younger generation to its benefits.
Moderation is the key factor to the use of the patchouli oil, or the plant’s leaves if you are so inclined to grow it yourself. Regardless, at least they will remember you, hippie or not!
Take care of your mind and body and it will take care of you! Be sure to check out what you can do to help reduce the effects of the influenza in the nature’s pharmacy category.
That’s my show!