Facts about the Patchouli plant
The patchouli plant gives off a very heavy fragrance which people either love or hate. There is rarely any in-between view when it comes to the scent of this plant. Some people say the smell is spicy, while others think of it as musty and sweet. The scent is supposed to mature with age, so leaving a bottle of patchouli oil unopened for several years should produce exactly the aroma that is considered the best. The plant is native to Southeast Asia and only grows well in very warm climates. The majority of gardeners in the United States will want to grow patchouli as a houseplant.
The patchouli plant has actually been around for thousands of years and has been used as an herbal remedy for many health conditions, including the common cold, nausea, headaches, pain, infections and digestive problems. It is thought to have the capacity to kill funguses and bacteria. The oils are extracted from the plant and contain henzaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde, eugenol, and pogostone. Because they are so aromatic, the oils from the patchouli plant are commonly used in all types of perfumes and cosmetics.
Many people in the United States would know the smell of patchouli immediately if they took a whiff. That’s because it was the fragrance of choice for people in the hippie movement. It was worn as a perfume to attract the other sex and burned as incense. Those were the days of love-ins and communal living.
In Japan, there is an old custom that says rubbing the oil onto the sexual organs after intercourse will keep the couple from acquiring venereal diseases. This, of course, is not a scientifically proven fact so don’t use patchouli for this purpose and count on it working. Patchouli oil is used in infusions to treat diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and the common cold. The plant has no affect on fevers. Applying the leaves as first-aid to a burn is said to give relief from the pain and aid healing.
Other medicinal uses of the essential oil of the patchouli plant include application to the skin to heal all sorts of skin conditions, from chapped hands and eczema to acne. Its powerful scent makes it popular in aromatherapy to treat stress, depression and even to control appetite for those people trying to lose weight. It is also thought to be an aphrodisiac. Of course, it helps if you are one of the people who loves the scent. Patchouli oil kills bacteria, which is one reason it is used to treat the common cold. It is also an anti-fungal, which means it should be ideal for killing foot funguses.
If you are troubled by clothes moths, you might want to try the dry leaves of the patchouli plant to get rid of them for good. Just take some dried leaves and slip them between items of clothing and in stacks of sheets, blankets or towels. The leaves can also be set in cupboards to discourage food moths from making your grains and cereals their home.
If you want to try to grow your own patchouli plant, the best way is propagating by cuttings. The plants can also be grown from seed. It does its best with moist but well-drained soil. Fertilize well and be sure not to let it grow outside if you ever have frosts in your location. It cannot stand any kind of cold. Patchouli leaves are the part of the plant that is harvested, and this can be done anytime with an adult plant. The plant occasionally flowers but the flowers are pretty much ignored as it is usually grown for its scent or medicinal uses and not for its flowers.