Botanical name Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth
Processing Method Steam Distillation
Color/Consistency A golden orange to dark reddish brown liquid
Aromatic Summary / Note / Strength of Aroma base note with a medium aroma, Patchouli has an earthy aroma with light fruity notes.
Blend with Sandalwood, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Rose, Orange, Cassia, Myrrh and Opoponax.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin), sometimes called "the scent of the sixties," has a musky, earthy, exotic aroma. In Eastern cultures, it is commonly used around the house to provide general support for health and to help release negative emotions. It is very beneficial for the skin, helping to reduce a wrinkled or chapped appearance. Patchouli is a general tonic that soothes occasional queasiness.
Patchouli oil shot to fame in the 1980s as the oil that had the potential to mask the odor of other herbs. Today, it is greatly used in aromatherapy, owing to its sweet-smelling, deep, musky odor. Native to South East Asian countries,
Extraction of patchouli's essential oil is by steam distillation of the dried leaves, requiring rupture of its cell walls by steam scalding, light fermentation, or drying. The main chemical component of patchouli oil is patchoulol, a sesquiterpine alcohol.
Leaves may be harvested several times a year and, when dried, may be exported for distillation. Some sources claim a highest quality oil is usually produced from fresh leaves distilled close to where they are harvested; others that boiling the dried leaves and fermenting them for a period of time is best.
The long-lasting aroma of patchouli essential oil, though sweet, may be too strong and unpleasant to some people. Be cautious about using or inhaling too much of it, as the aroma can be irritating.
Patchouli alcohol 29.2–29.8%
a-Bulnesene (d-guaiene) 16.4–17.4%
Quality May be adulterated with gurjun balsam oil, in which case a-gurjunene will appear as a constituent. Other possible adulterants include copaiba balsam oil, cedarwood oil, patchouli, vetiver and camphor distillate residues, hercolyn D, benzyl benzoate, propylene glycol and vegetable oils. The superior Indonesian oil may be blended with the cheaper Chinese oil.
Hazards Drug interaction; may inhibit blood clotting.
Cautions (oral) Anticoagulant medication, major surgery, peptic ulcer, hemophilia, other bleeding disorders.
Adverse skin reactions In a modified Draize procedure on guinea pigs, patchouli oil was non-sensitizing when used at 20% in the challenge phase (Sharp 1978). Undiluted patchouli oil was slightly irritating to rabbits, but was not irritating to mice or pigs; tested at 10% on 25 volunteers it was neither irritating nor sensitizing. In one study patchouli oil was mildly phototoxic, in another there were no phototoxic effects. Patchouli oil, tested at 10% in consecutive dermatitis patients, induced allergic responses in 13 of 1,606, and three of 318. Of 167 fragrance-sensitive dermatitis patients, five (3%) were allergic to 10% patchouli oil on patch testing. In a multicenter study, Germany’s IVDK reported that 15 of 2,446 consecutive dermatitis patients (0.61%), and 11 of 828 dermatitis patients suspected of fragrance allergy (1.32%) tested positive to 10% patchouli oil. Only one of the 2,446 had a þþ or þþþ reaction.
Cardiovascular effects Patchouli oil displays antiplatelet activity, and this is due to its a-bulnesene content.
Acute toxicity Patchouli oil acute oral LD50 in rats >5 g/kg; acute dermal LD50 in rabbits >5 g/kg.
Subacute & subchronic toxicity When patchouli oil was consumed by male rats at 11.9 mg/kg/day, and by female rats at 14.5 mg/kg/day for 90 days, no adverse effects were seen on growth, food consumption, hematology, blood chemistry, liver weight, kidney weight, or the microscopic or gross appearance of major organs.
Antioxidant/pro-oxidant activity Patchouli oil showed moderate antioxidant activity as a DPPH radical scavenger and in the aldehyde/carboxylic acid assay.
Carcinogenic/anticarcinogenic potential No information was found for patchouli oil, but it contains no known carcinogens. b-Elemene displays anticarcinogenic activity.
Drug interactions Anticoagulant medication, because of cardiovascular effects, above.
Patchouli oil is a low-risk allergen and does not require a dermal use restriction. Indonesia is the main producer of patchouli oil, followed by China. Brazil and Malaysia also produce small quantities.