Saturday, June 28, 2014

Patchouli Spotlight

Patchouli is a popular scented herb in the mint family whose Botanical name is Pogostemon cablin. Patchouli loves warm wet weather and grows well in India, Indonesia, parts of China, and South Florida. We grow it in Central Florida outdoors during the summer and bring it indoors during autumn and winter months. We've found that patchouli is one of the easiest herbs to grow indoors. With the warm rainy summer weather starting in Central Florida, late Spring or early Summer is the perfect time of year to start patchouli from seed. Patchouli is best known for it's use as incense or perfume, but it is also a valuable to use internally as a tea.

In perfumery, patchouli is known as a base note, which is also sometimes called a fixative. The earthy herbaceous scent blends especially well with lighter citrus scents helping them to last longer.  In a natural botanical perfume made with patchouli, you will smell it the most strongly as the other scents begin to fade. The patchouli aroma can linger for hours.

Many online herbal references indicate that the patchouli herb should not be taken internally, however it is recommended for use internally in the Traditional Chinese herbology. Patchouli in Chinese is known as "Hou Xiang," which translates "fragrance of the rainy season." This is because during humid summer months it is common for people to burn the incense to dispel or transform damp dirty smells. When one catches a head cold during a rainy summer season, it can be extremely difficult for the sinuses to clear. For this situation, patchouli tea can promote clear sinuses. For adults 5-10 grams of dried patchouli or 10-20 grams of fresh patchouli can be boiled briefly in water for 5-10 minutes. This decoction can be stored in the fridge and a cupful drunk warm 3 times per day. A tincture is also helpful. Pogostemon cablin is functionally interchangeable with Agastache rugosa, which is also known as Huo Xiang in Chinese. Dried Organic patchouli can be found at Mountain Rose Herbs. Patchouli essential oil, and other essential oils, should not be used internally, just the dried or fresh herb.

We use Patchouli essential oil in soaps, perfumes and shampoo bars, both by itself or to enhance the performance of other essential oils.