Our sense of smell is fascinating. Smell can stimulate the pathways in our brain, allowing us to travel across time and space. Smell can unlock the doors to forgotten memories. The power of recollection is why, for many, the smell of patchouli is reminiscent of the sexual revolution and hippies circa the ’60s. The scent does have aphrodisiac qualities, but that’s just one of the many benefits of this herb.
Patchouli originated from the tropical regions of Asia and is versatile in its uses. It has a very long-lasting smell, and its fixative quality makes it popular in perfumery. It is one of the few essential oils that gets better with age and blends well with citrus and floral notes. I personally find it to have a very bold quality, whether as a dried herb or an oil, and I think that’s just part of its allure. Here are five benefits to patchouli.
1. Patchouli For Clear Skin
Known to be anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and a cell regenerator, patchouli is excellent for healing the skin. Its anti-inflammatory properties work well against acne and some forms of eczema, while its cell regeneration is beneficial for reducing wrinkles and scarring. Patchouli can also be used to relieve fungal infections like athlete’s foot. (Plants can also benefit from patchouli! I recently used patchouli to help a rose plant that was suffering from a fungal infection.)
Here are five different ways patchouli benefits your skin:
- Anti-inflammation–Patchouli has the ability to soothe inflammation and irritation, particularly if they were onset by fevers. Inflammation from conditions such as gout, vascular atherosclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis can be suppressed through applying patchouli.
- Antiseptic– Use of patchouli on wounds and ulcers, aids in suppressing the risk of serious infections. Without proper healing, even small wounds can become septic and lead to more serious infections. Patchouli reduces this risk.
- Cell Regeneration– Patochouli acts on cells in numerous ways to promote healthy cells and healthy skin. In red blood cells it promotes productivity, which leads to increases energy. With increased circulation, overall metabolism increases oxygenation to organs and cells, which increases functionality and healing.
- Fungicide– Patchouli has been used to inhibit fungal growth and infections. An antifungal study on twelve fungi, resulted in patchouli inhibiting all of them. Pathchouli has shown promise in inhibiting athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch.
- Wound Healing– In addition to its antiseptic properties, patchouli also aids with the healing of cuts and wounds. It also diminishes scars left by wounds and restores skin back to it’s natural healthy state.
2. Patchouli Helps Anxiety & Depression
Patchouli has a strong, earthy, woody scent and is associated with strengthening the root chakra. The root chakra deals with personal boundaries and issues regarding safety, such as the fight or flight response. Patchouli’s heavy, musty aroma helps to ground a person back into their physical body by clarifying one’s thoughts and helping one to see things more objectively. As an herb of protection, it helps maintain healthy boundaries and offers relief from stress-related problems and anxiety by calming the nerves.
3. Patchouli For Prosperity
Considered an aphrodisiac, patchouli is also linked with balancing the sacral chakra, which governs the lower abdomen region and the sexual organs. Energetically, this chakra involves the realm of our feelings and emotions, how we relate to others, and also, how we relate to the world. It is also linked to our relationship to finances and is often used to attract wealth and prosperity.
4. Patchouli For Healthy Digestion, Weight Loss, And Lungs
In traditional medicinal practices, patchouli is known as a warming, drying herb. It works with the digestive system, particularly the intestinal tract, to treat nausea and diarrhea. It has been successful in reducing fluid retention and credited with suppressing appetite, both being a potential source of weight loss. As a warming herb it helps with circulation and can be used on varicose veins. Its decongestant and drying qualities can be beneficial when used in cases of colds with an excess phlegm or mucus.
5. Patchouli As An Insect Repellent
Patchouli was commonly placed in between fabrics by traders in the 19th century and soon became a recognizable scent for Asian fabrics to its Western buyers. It worked not only to perfume the fabrics, but as an insect repellent, and prevented the growth of mold as it was transported across continents. Its antiviral properties make it popular in treating insect bites and snake bites. (Remember: It is always best to seek the advice of a medical professional, especially in emergency situations. Herbal remedies can be considered complementary treatments to conventional medicine.)
For me, patchouli’s earthy scent creates a warm, comforting feeling, while also demonstrating a very commanding presence. I feel its long-lasting quality supports strong, stable foundations and an ability to re-center myself. I find it easier to organize my thoughts so I can take action and move in a forward direction. The more I work to deepen my relationship with patchouli, the greater my respect grows for the plant.
On a more subconscious level, I realized it really helped me understand my personal boundaries (root chakra), not just with others but with myself (sacral chakra). When considering an aphrodisiac we often think of sex, but by working with patchouli and the sacral chakra, I found it is really about our connections with others — family, friends, lovers — and how we define those relationships.
Working with patchouli not only clearly defined the different boundaries I need to enforce with others, but also the boundaries within myself. It is more than setting up barriers, but also recognizing which ones we’ve outgrown and need to move on from.
Often when I mention patchouli to others, the responses tend to connote a negative memory, as if they were “done” with that smell because it reminded them of a certain moment in their life that was over, and for some reason they didn’t want to remember. To each his own, but I think it is time we break down our limited perception of patchouli and allow it the opportunity to reveal the abundance it has to offer us.