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Pogostemon cablin


Pogostemon cablin

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Patchouli, patchouly, pachuli, cablin

Original Habitat

This bushy plant of the mint family is native to Malaysia and India but is now cultivated in China as well as Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Sri Lanka.[1] P. cablin can grow up to one metre tall and has flowers that are white to light purple in colour. 

Plant Part Used

Leaves and young shoots of the tree.[2]


The essential oil of P. cablin is used in foods and beverages, but its primary use is for its fragrance.  Patchouli oil is found in soaps, lotions, oils, perfumes, incense and as a fragrance used on some household items such as rugs. The main chemical constituent is used in oral care and cosmetics.[1] In therapeutic aromatherapy, it is used regularly as a single oil and sometimes mixed with other oils such as Vertivert and Cedarwood.


The thin essential oil is steamed distilled from the leaves and tender shoots of the tree and is deep amber to golden brown in colour. It has a strong sweet, woody, spicy fragrance. The fragrance is very long lasting and remains consistent during evaporation time, lasting for months.[3]

Chemical Constituents

Sesquiterpenes 40-45%
Sesquiterpenols: Patchoulol (known as patchouli alcohol) 35-40%
Sesquiterpenones 0.1% [4][5]

Note: This monograph reports on this essential oil in regard to its potential use in the French school of aromatherapy, as well as reporting any additional science that has been published. The ratings range from +, indicating a lower therapeutic value, to ++++ indicating a higher therapeutic value.

Medicinal Uses

Decongestant +++
Phlebotonic +++

Antioxidant- Patchouli essential oil has a strong antioxidant activity, which is due to its patchoulol content.[6]

Antibacterial- Ninety-six essential oils were tested against different types of bacteria including Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella entericaPogostemon cablin essential oil demonstrated acceptable antibacterial activity against C. jejuni and L monocytogenes.[7] An additional comparison study found P. cablin to show inhibitory effects against 20 types of bacteria in vitro.[8]

Antifungal- This essential oil inhibited the growth of 12 different types of fungi (3 yeast-like and 9 filamentous) in an in vitro setting.[8]

Traditional Use

Internal and external hemorrhoids, varicose veins +++

Insecticide- The oil of P. cabin and its main constituent patchouli alcohol were used against Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, a type of termite. Both the oil and the constituent were toxic and also repelled the insect.[9]

Insect Repellant- Patchouli oil was compared to other essential oils against mosquito bites. The oils were applied topically to a volunteer’s arm.  Along with the other oils, patchouli showed repellency for 2 hours. The stronger the concentration of the pure essential oil, the stronger the repellency was against the mosquitoes.[10]

Candida- When compared with other essential oils, patchouli oil demonstrated some antifungal activity against Candida albicans at a dose of 100 micro g/ml.[11]

Blood PressureThe inhalation of certain essential oils was tested on humans and the effects on blood pressure were recorded. The results showed that some essential oils such as pepper, fennel, or grapefruit increased relative sympathetic activity while rose and patchouli oil showed a decrease.  Patchouli oil may be beneficial in affecting blood pressure.[12]

Contraindications and Precautions

The essential oil may cause a slight skin or eye irritation and should be reduced to 0.1% in individuals with dermatoses.[3]

Not to be used by pregnant and nursing women.



[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

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  1) Cultivation

  2) Essential Oil


1.     Hua LF. GC–MS fingerprint of Pogostemon cablin in China. J Pharma Biomed Analy. Sept 2006;42(2):200-206.

2.     Lis Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: a guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

3.     Zhao Z. Determination of patchoulic alcohol in Herba Pogostemonis by GC-MS-MS. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). Jul 2005;53(7):856-860.

4.     Deguerry F. The diverse sesquiterpene profile of patchouli, Pogostemon cablin, is correlated with a limited number of sesquiterpene synthases. Arch Biochem Biophys. 15 Oct 2006;454(2):123-136.

5.     Luo J. Constituent’s analysis on volatile oil of Pogostemon cablin from different collection time cultivated in Hainan. Zhong Yao Cai. Jan 2002;25(1):21-23.

6.     Wei A.  Antioxidant activities and volatile constituents of various essential oils. J Agric Food Chem. 7 Mar 2007;55(5):1737-1742.

7.     Friedman M.  Bactericidal activities of plant essential oils and some of their isolated constituents against Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella enterica. J Food Prot. Oct 2002;65(10):1545-1560.

8.     Pattnaik S. Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. Microbios. 1996;86(349):237-246.

9.     Zhu BC. Toxicity and repellency of patchouli oil and patchouli alcohol against Formosan subterranean termites Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). J Agric Food Chem. 30 Jul 2003;51(16):4585-4588.

10.  Trongtokit Y. Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites. Phytother Res. Apr 2005;19(4):303-309.

11.  Abe S. Anti-Candida albicans activity of essential oils including Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) oil and its component, citral. Article in Japanese. Nippon Ishinkin Gakkai Zasshi. 2003;44(4):285-291.

12.  Haze S. Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. Jpn J Pharmacol. Nov 2002;90(3):247-253.

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