Most people know patchouli as the ever popular incense scent from the Sixties, when it seemed to be every flower child’s favorite perfume. The scent has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, and is said to attract the opposite sex. It’s slightly musty, pungent smell is unmistakable and pervasive, and it was often used as a fixative for other scents, or to mask more objectionable scents.
Most people, however, are not aware of the other uses of patchouli. The furry-leafed shrub grows to about four feet in its native Malaysia, but can be grown as a houseplant throughout the world if you avoid the cold. Over the centuries, patchouli has had numerous medicinal uses.
Patchouli enjoys the distinction of being both well-known and lesser known. Most are familiar with its scent and its uses in aromatherapy, but not with the wide range of conditions it may help. There is little conclusive research to support the use of patchouli in medicinal preparations, but its properties are well known. In addition to its medicinal and perfumery uses, patchouli also repels insects, and is often used in the east to scent bed linens and keep fleas and other pests at bay.