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What is Patchouli Aromatherapy Oil?

Celeste Heiter
Celeste Heiter

Patchouli aromatherapy oil is an essential oil made from the leaves of the patchouli bush. Patchouli aromatherapy oil is an amber-colored liquid that may be used for both therapeutic and cosmetic purposes. The aroma of the oil may be described as earthy, woody and spicy. When used in the practice of aromatherapy, patchouli oil is believed to have a sedative, emotionally-calming effect.

In botanical terms, the patchouli bush is classified as Pogostemon patchouli. It grows to a height of about 3 feet (1m) and has fuzzy leaves and pale pink or purple flowers. Patchouli is native to the tropical climates of Southeast Asia, especially the Pacific islands of the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. It is also widely cultivated in Africa, South America and the Caribbean. The word “patchouli” is derived from the Tamil words “patchai,” which means green, and “ellai,” which means "leaf."

Patchouli aromatherapy oil.
Patchouli aromatherapy oil.

Several species of Pogostemon may be used to produce patchouli aromatherapy oil—the Pogostemon cablin variety, however, is considered to be the best quality. To produce patchouli aromatherapy oil, the leaves of the patchouli bush are harvested and then dried or fermented. The patchouli essential oil is extracted through the process of steam distillation. The oil may also be aged to enhance and intensify its aroma.

Patchouli essential oil may be yellow or amber in color.
Patchouli essential oil may be yellow or amber in color.

When used for therapeutic purposes, patchouli aromatherapy oil is often combined with neutral carrier oils or unscented lotions. Massage therapists use the patchouli-scented oils or lotions to massage the skin and muscles. Patchouli aromatherapy oil may also be warmed in a fragrance diffuser over a small flame to release the aroma of the patchouli into the air. Other aromatherapy techniques include the use of patchouli oil in soaps, bath oils, perfumes and incense.

Patchouli aromatherapy oil can be used in massages.
Patchouli aromatherapy oil can be used in massages.

Aromatherapy oils are chosen by aromatherapists according to clients’ specific conditions and symptoms. Patchouli aromatherapy oil is usually chosen for emotional and nervous disorders such as anxiety, depression and stress-related conditions. It may be used in small amounts as a stimulant, or in larger amounts as a sedative. Patchouli aromatherapy oil is also regarded as an appetite stimulant and as an aphrodisiac.

Patchouli aromatherapy oil may also be used to treat headaches and nausea. When applied to the skin, patchouli aromatherapy oil acts as an antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory agent for the treatment of acne, eczema and fungal infections. Patchouli is generally considered non-toxic—however, it is advisable to consult with a physician before ingesting, inhaling or applying topically.

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Discussion Comments


@SZapper - How can you not like the smell of patchouli? I think it smells wonderful.

One of those bath and body stores make a patchouli lotion that I absolutely love! I believe it's also got jasmine in it, but patchouli is the main scent in the lotion.

I normally don't like to spend a lot of money on "designer" lotions, but sometimes when I want to treat myself I splurge on a few bottles!


I totally associate patchouli oil with hippy, new agey kind of people. I had a good friend in high school that was a kind of modern day hippy and she just loved her patchouli oil! In fact, even to this day I totally think of her whenever I smell patchouli.

I personally don't really like the smell, but to each their own.


I keep a bottle of patchouli oil around and though I don't use it very often, I am glad I have it when I need it.

I have found that it works really well on insect bites. It seems like the mosquitoes always find me in the summer and if I apply some patchouli oil to it right away, it really helps with the itching and redness.

Another reason I like to keep patchouli around is for scarring. It works great to reduce scarring on the skin and for faster healing of cuts. I have also used patchouli oil to help reduce acne scars.

I'm sure there are many other uses for this unique oil, but those are some great results I have had with it.

I have one friend who diffuses it in the air with a diffuser, but I don't care enough for the scent of it to do that. I like to use something like lemon or lavender oils when I diffuse.


I love using essential oils and patchouli is one I bought because of all the great skin benefits I read about it. Some people absolutely love the smell of this oil, but I don't think it smells that great. To me it has a very damp, earthy smell.

It is interesting how one oil can smell so good to one person, and the next person can hardly stand it. I mix it in with some other oils that are good for the skin such as lavender and geranium and use it in combination with apricot kernel oil on my skin.

It really does leave my skin soft and smooth and I don't mind the smell so much when it is mixed in with other oils.

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    • Patchouli aromatherapy oil.
      By: wasansrisawat
      Patchouli aromatherapy oil.
    • Patchouli essential oil may be yellow or amber in color.
      By: viperagp
      Patchouli essential oil may be yellow or amber in color.
    • Patchouli aromatherapy oil can be used in massages.
      By: Aaron Amat
      Patchouli aromatherapy oil can be used in massages.