Fragrance industry needs no introduction to Patchouli, as it is one of the most admired ingredients for perfumes, incense, deodorants, oils and others. Patchouli has a unique fragrance, which many believe has tranquillising effect. Over the years, people have discovered scores of uses of Patchouli ranging from medicinal usage to cosmetics.
The popularity of Patchouli oil reached its peak during late 60's and early 70's-time best defined as 'Hippy-era'. But the usage of Patchouli has been traced over hundreds of years ago. Presently, Patchouli oil is widely used in aromatherapy and several other industries.
Patchouli also known Pogostemon cablin originates in Southeast Asia. The perennial herb grows wild in Sumatra and Java at an altitude of over 3000feet. However, the cultivation of the herb is extensive in lower tropical jungles. The plant grows to the height of 3 feet and has strong stem and delicate hairy leaves. To extract oil, the plant is harvested twice or thrice per year. The best quality oil is considered to be extracted in the rainy season. The extraction process envisages hand picking and baling of leaves followed by drying in the shade. Later it is left for few days for fermentation. Then oil is extracted through steam distillation process. The purpose of fermenting the plant is softening the cell walls, which would further ease the oil extraction.
In light of its easy process of extraction and relatively high yield, Patchouli essential oils are available at low prices. It's pertinent to mention here that Patchouli is one of the rare essential oils that get better with age. This means one should look for older Pathouli oil than a fresh one. As the oil ages, it turns into deep amber from light yellow, while its fragrance becomes smoother and richer. Patchoulol (25-35%), Alpha-Bulnesene (12-20%), Alpha-Guaiene + Seychellene (15-25%), and Alpha-Patchoulene (5-9%) are main ingredients of Patchouli oil.
Patchouli however is most used for its repellent abilities. In the 19th century, the aroma of Patchouli was pervasive in cloth and clothing exported from India. The fragrance determined the true 'Oriental' fabric. In countries like Malaysia, China and Japan, oil is used in traditional medicines. The oil is considered to be highly beneficial in dermatitis, eczema, acne, dry chapped skin, and other irritating conditions.