Patchouli is a plant that grows to about a metre and has white through to purple flowers, depending on the species. It originated in South East Asia but now grows in the Caribbean where it is cultivated and in the Indian subcontinent, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and South America. It is cultivated for its heady, musky, earthy oil which is used in perfumes and essential oils. It was very popular in the 1960s and 70s when it was associated with the hippie movement, protesting against the Vietnam War and having the common desire to make love not war. Patchouli, being an aphrodisiac would certainly have helped achieve the first of their aims.
The name comes from Tamil-patch=green and ilai=leaf. Personally I like the Urdu name for patchouli, Khoshbodar pudina which means ‘smelly mint’. Patchouli is a member of the mint family.

Patchouli oil has been used in traditional Indian medicine for thousands of years and was applied to parts of the body in Tantric ceremonies according to a 12th century Indian text by Somershvara. It has narcotic properties that liberate you from repressed sexual feelings, heighten the senses and sexual desire. It also encourages sensuality so it can certainly help your sex life if it needs spicing up. It cures frigidity, erectile dysfunctions and loss of libido. You can get patchouli scented candles and incense (joss) sticks to help too. You can combine the fragrance with rose, jasmine or lavender (a distant relative) if you add the oil to bath water.

There are different kinds of patchouli oil, and the older it is the better. It should be dark amber in colour, and be very viscous. You should think in terms of drops-don’t overdo it as it can make you nauseous it’s so pungent.

Apart from its benefits for your sex life it does the body good too as it is antifungal, so can get rid of skin problems such as athlete’s foot, and the Romans used it to heal wounds. Modern medical research has shown that it does this because it has astringent qualities. It has been used as a cure for digestive problems, and is a remedy for skin disorders such as eczema, and can make scars from acne, chicken pox and other diseases fade. It also used as a remedy for colds and the infection that starts a fever. It has antibacterial qualities and is a painkiller too. It helps lift people out of depression as it is an anti depressant. It helps remove feelings of anxiety and relieves stress. In Hindu temples it is burned as incense and gives grounding prior to meditation, so astral travelers can return to their body and not get lost in the Cosmos.

It is also used in beauty treatments as it helps tone dry skin, and prevents wrinkles. It is also an effective deodorant and astringent. If you rub diluted oil onto your hair and scalp it will get rid of dandruff and give body and shine to your hair.

In Victorian times it was wrapped in cashmere shawls on their voyages from India to the British markets, to keep moths and other bugs away. Women wouldn’t buy the shawls unless they had the smell of patchouli on them, as that way they knew they were genuine. It is also one of the ingredients of Indian ink, which gives it a distinctive smell. The Victorians may have gone down in history as prudes, but those shawls, the smell of patchouli and the number of children per family as well as the ‘naughty’ humour, tend to disprove the stereotype.
I’ve read that the leaves can be used as a vegetable, but I haven’t tried them. I suppose they can be as the oil is extracted from the leaves. No recipe though!


  1. HI,thanks for wonderful information.you have made much easier to understand it.i was trying to find patchoui name in hindi.it helped me alot.thanks again. Keep it up.

  2. Thank you! It's good to be appreciated. Happy New Year!

  3. What is patchouli incense called in hindi??

  4. This is very great information it really helped me in my article
    Mint benefits in Urdu

  5. Can the leaves be used as a tea? And is the tea in question safe to drink?

    Also, there are some native species of patchouli found in India. In Assam, patchouli is called "xukloti".

  6. Khoshbodar means scented not 'smelly'!