Patchouli Leaf

Patchouli Leaf
Common Name

Standardized: patchouli
Other: guang huo xiang

Botanical Name

Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth.

Plant Family: Lamiaceae


Pogostemon patchouly


Most people know patchouli as the ever popular incense scent from the Sixties, when it seemed to be every flower child's favorite perfume. The scent has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and is said to attract the opposite sex. It's slightly musty, pungent smell is unmistakable and pervasive, and it was often used as a fixative for other scents, or to mask more objectionable scents.

Most people, however, are not aware of the other uses of patchouli. The furry-leafed shrub grows to about four feet in its native Malaysia, but can be grown as a houseplant throughout the world if you avoid the cold.

Parts Used

Dried leaves, and the essential oil


Patchouli gets better with age Patchouli gets better with age, making it a valuable commodity in perfumery.  This earth scent has calming, grounding and centering properties that work on both the body and the mind.  Generally used as a base scent, it provides warmth for lighter scents.  Avoid synthetic versions though.  The overpowering aroma could turn you off patchouli for good.  Quality patchouli essential oil is distilled from mature leaves that have been properly dried and stored for distillation.

But there’s more to patchouli than just scent.  Its medicinal properties soothe, sedate, protect, deodorize and stimulate.  This “love it” or “hate it” fragrant oil can be inhaled, diffused in a vaporizer or applied directly to skin.  Inhaling the scent of patchouli oil or absorbing it through the skin helps transmit messages to the limbic system, a region in the brain that’s involved in controlling emotions and even influences the nervous system.  Here’s what a little bottle of patchouli can do for you.

-Medicinal Action and Uses---

It's use is said to cause sometimes loss of appetite and sleep and nervous attacks. The Chinese, Japanese and Arabs believe it to possess prophylactic properties.

Benefits of Patchouli

  1. Depression:  When you’re feeling blue, patchouli can fight depression. It helps relieve feelings of sadness or loss and will renew feelings of hope. That’s why patchouli essential oil is so often used in aromatherapy. It’s thought to uplift the mood, eliminate disappointment and relax tension. By stimulating the release of pleasure hormones like serotonin and dopamine, feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness simply disappear.
  2. Prevents the spread of bacteria:  One of the more important health benefits of patchouli is its antimicrobial properties that can stop the spread of microorganisms. An Asian study evaluated the antibacterial activity of patchouli oil. It was tested against five very good antibacterial drugs commonly used to treat infections. The antimicrobial test proved that patchouli oil had strong antimicrobial effects the prevent the spread of bacteria. Use it to treat athlete’s foot or acute inflammation caused by a wound.
  3. Aphrodisiac:  It’s not surprising that such an earthy and sensual scent would have aphrodisiac qualities. Used for hundreds of years to relieve frigidity and impotence, patchouli is a powerful “attraction” oil. According to The Soulmate Experience,patchouli stimulates the sex glands, thus increasing libido and sexual response. It’s a mildly sedative oil that slows breathing when used in aromatherapy. In fact, it’s one of the most relaxing, grounding and earthy scents in aromatherapy. But a little goes a long way. So, use it sparingly, as too much may leave your senses overstimulated, and may even leave you feeling agitated.
  4. Used as a deodorant: Again, a little goes a long way when it comes to using patchouli as a deodorant. The strong sweet, spicy and musky aroma of this oil eliminates or masks body odor. Put two to three drops on a cotton ball and dab it on your underarms. Or, dilute it with a carrier oil such as almond oil.
  5. Insect Repellent:  It may seem strange that a scent famous for its use in perfume, soaps, candles and even deodorant can also be used as an insect repellent. Traditionally, the patchouli leaf itself is put into clothing to repel insects. But, unless you live in Asia, it may be hard to find a patchouli leaf. Use patchouli essential oil instead. One study from Thailand researched 38 essential oils as a non-toxic solution for a mosquito repellent. Patchouli was one of the most effective repellents, providing two hours of complete mosquito repellent.

Typical Preparations

Essential oil, infusion of leaves as a tea (although rarely) in topical applications and as an incense.


Specific: Not for internal use.
General: We recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using herbal products, particularly if you are pregnant, nursing, or on any medications.

This herb is sold by the ounce is Copyright © 2000-2023