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What Does Patchouli Smell Like?

Patchouli oil is an essential oil that is known for its distinctive odor.

Patchouli oil is an essential oil that is known for its distinctive odor. The smell of patchouli is typically described as a mix of earthy, woody, sweet, and musky scents. The smell of pure patchouli oil is quite strong and is slightly sweet and spicy. It has been described as an intoxicating scent that bears the earthiness akin to the aroma that comes from wet soil. Since the smell of the oil is very strong, it needs to be diluted before use. Patchouli oil is commonly used to provide fragrance to perfumes, moisturizers, soaps, candles, and detergents. The oil can be mixed with other essential oils, such as sandalwood oil, jasmine oil, rose oil, citrus oil, and vanilla to produce various fragrances.

What is patchouli oil?

The word patchouli is derived from an old Indian language, Tamil. The word means ‘green leaf.’ Patchouli oil is derived from the plant Pogostemon cablin that belongs to the mint family. The plant is native to tropical Asian countries, such as India, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The oil can be extracted from the leaves (both fresh and dried) and the stem of the Patchouli plant. Patchouli oil comes in the category of essential oils, which means during the process of harvesting this oil the chemicals that give the essence or distinct odor and flavor to the plant are retained. The main constituent of the patchouli oil is the substance called ‘patchoulol.’ Patchoulol is now also being manufactured synthetically in labs for commercial use.

What is patchouli oil used for?

Patchouli oil has been in use for thousands of years, but it gained tremendous popularity because of its use by the hippies in the 1960s and 1970s. The oil has been in use for treating several conditions ranging from headaches, bellyaches, and scars. There is, however, a lack of evidence for the use of patchouli oil for medical conditions. Still, many people use the oil for various purposes, such as:

  • Treating skin conditions like skin allergies and inflammation
  • Controlling nausea and vomiting
  • Getting relief from headaches
  • Managing stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Getting rid of bad breath especially from alcohol
  • Treatment of diarrhea and stomach pain
  • Controlling appetite
  • As a constituent of skin creams, lotions, and other personal care products
  • Treatment of hair conditions like hair fall and dandruff
  • As an insecticide and antifungal agent to protect clothes, such as silks and woolens
  • As a flavoring agent in foods and beverages
  • As a disinfectant or antibacterial substance
  • In perfumes and deodorants

There is a lack of scientific evidence for using patchouli oil for the treatment of medical conditions. It is, thus, advisable to not use the oil without consulting your healthcare provider. Pregnant or lactating women and people with underlying medical conditions must particularly refrain from using the oil without consulting their doctor. Further, the oil should always be used after diluting it with other oils or creams or there is a risk of skin irritation. People with asthma and bronchitis may report irritation to the throat and cough on using the oil in high concentrations for aromatherapy.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/1/2020

References

WebMD. Patchouly Oil. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-213/patchouly-oil

Natural Products Map. Patchouli Oil. http://www.synbiowatch.org/commodities/patchouli-oil/?lores

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