Asian college students

Some say you either love or hate the smell of patchouli. For me, it’s a pretty strong smell.

However, recently I found many reasons why my nose won’t be shying away from patchouli’s scent. Let me start from the beginning on how I became better friends with patchouli. After all, as a mouse with a big piece of cheese says, “better off starting from the top.”

This holiday season, I have been fortunate to spend a lot of time with my loved ones. This made me think of how abundant my life is and how blessed I am. As I contemplated this fact, I reached for one of my favorite blends. I wanted to disperse this scent around my home to express this feeling after the diffuser finished up with the aroma of lavender.

For a brief moment, I was pulled away from my peaceful contemplation and my mind became perplexed. I have always loved this oil blend I had in hand and use it daily.  In fact, many have commented how wonderful my bills smell because I always place a drop of it on the envelopes. (Why not spread around abundance, right?)

So, why was I perplexed? I realized I had studied most of the main players in this symphony of an oil blend, but I skipped one of the major soloists!

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Patchouli, how did I miss you?!

So, in between gluten-free apple pie, organic-pasture-raised turkey, and game time, my family set off to do the nasty deed of shopping. Therefore, I took some alone time to research this oil.

I was amazed at the research!! There were so many articles to choose from via PubMed.

Below is a “summary” of what I found.

Time for the same note as prior essential oil blogs, abstracts are included below for your reading or skimming pleasure and because of FDA regulations. Please note this is an overview of the herb, extract, and plant. Reference the original study or abstract for the source.


7 Reasons Why Patchouli is Way Beyond Palatable to Any Nose


PageLines- forms-icon.png1. Epigenetic Modifications On Cellular Growth and Inhibition

Epigenetics, it’s a “hot” word in health today. It is one of my favorite biological terms because it describes how cellular functions can be modulated by factors outside of genetics. In other words, we can change how our cells operate or “express themselves” by changing their environment. This can be done through lifestyle and dietary choices.

This is empowering information! It means that we are not victim of our “DNA destiny.” Rather, we can modulate our wellness outcomes by bathing our cells in healthy foods and making lifestyle choices that create beneficial cellular signals. One way to change our “cellular environment” is by surrounding them with essential oils.

The abstract below describes how patchouli alcohol (PA) from patchouli essential oil (Pogostemon cablin) modulates various cellular growth and death processes in colon cancer cells in an in vitro study:

Patchouli alcohol (PA) is one of the important compounds isolated from the essential oil of Pogostemon cablin (patchouli). PA has neuroprotective, anti-influenza and anti-inflammatory activities. However, anti-cancer activity of PA has not been studied so far. We performed in vitro study to investigate whether PA affects proliferation and apoptosis of human colorectal cancer cells, and to define potential molecular mechanisms. PA suppressed cell growth and induced apoptosis in a dose-dependent manner in human colorectal cancer cells (HCT116, SW480). In addition, PA decreased cell growth in MCF7, BxPC3, PC3, and HUVEC cells. Exposure of PA to HCT116 and SW480 cells activated p21 expression and suppressed the expressions of cyclin D1 and cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, PA attenuated the expressions of HDAC2 (histone deacetylase 2) and c-myc, and HDAC enzyme activity. We also observed that PA induced the transcriptional activity of NF-?B through an increase of nuclear translocation of p65. These findings suggest that PA exerts an anti-cancer activity by decreasing cell growth and increasing apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells. The proposed mechanisms include the inhibition of HDAC2 expression and HDAC enzyme activity, and subsequent downregulation of c-myc and activation of NF-?B pathway. (1)

Quick references (via Wikipedia):

  • Histone deacetylases (HDAC) are enzymes that remove acetyl groups (O=C-CH3) from an ?-N-acetyl lysine amino acid on a histone. This allows histones to wrap the DNA more tightly altering gene expression.
  • Myc (c-Myc) is a regulator gene that codes for a transcription factor. The protein encoded by this gene is a multifunctional, nuclear phosphoprotein that plays a role in cell cycle progression, apoptosis and cellular transformation.

This next abstract is from an article that further explains how this exciting science of epigenetics relates to immune modulation through the use of essential oils.

Cancer is a multifaceted and genomically complex disease and research over decades has gradually and sequentially shown that essential biological mechanisms including cell cycle arrest and apoptosis are deregulated. The benefits of essential oils from different plants have started to gain appreciation as evidenced by data obtained from cancer cell lines and xenografted mice. Encouraging results obtained from preclinical studies have attracted considerable attention and various phytochemicals have entered into clinical trials. (2)


PageLines- forms-icon.png2. Epigenetic Modifications of Inflammation

Any of the docs or science whizzes out there will probably recognize the following key pathways patchouli alcohol (PA) modulates relating to inflammation. For example, lipopolysaccharides are those nasty compounds found in gram negative bacteria that cause inflammation and they are also linked intestinal permeability. (3) “Leaky gut” has been associated with a wide-array of health problems, including autoimmunity. This means that using a genuine essential oil that modulates LPS-induced-inflammation may assist one to have a more balanced immune response.

For those inclined, check out the pathways which modulate gene expression related to inflammation in mouse macrophage and human colorectal cancer cells below:


Patchouli alcohol (PA) inhibited the production of iNOS and IL-6. PA inhibited NF-kB activation via suppressing IKB-a degradation and p65 nuclear translocation. PA inhibited ERK1/2 activation by suppressing their phosphorylation. Anti-inflammatory activity of PA is mediated by inhibiting ERK-derived NF-KB activation.

Abstract: Patchouli alcohol (PA) is a chemical compound extracted from patchouli which belongs to the genus Pogostemon, herb of mint family. Recently, it has been reported that PA inhibits the production of inflammatory mediators. However, the biological mechanisms of PA for anti-inflammatory activities have not been studied. In this study, we investigated whether PA decreases the production of inflammatory mediators through downregulation of the NF-KB and ERK pathway. Our data indicated that PA inhibits the over-expression of iNOS and IL-6 in protein and mRNA levels in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 and TNF-a stimulated HT-29 cells. PA inhibited IKB-a degradation and p65 nuclear translocation, and subsequently suppressed transcriptional activity of NF-KB in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 and TNF-a-stimulated HT-29 cells. In addition, PA inhibited LPS- or TNF-a-stimulated ERK1/2 activation by decreasing phosphorylation of ERK1/2. These findings suggest that PA shows anti-inflammatory activities through suppressing ERK-mediated NF-KB pathway in mouse macrophage and human colorectal cancer cells. (4)


This article expands on the above abstract by linking patchouli’s sesquiterpene content to its action on lipopolysaccharides:

Pogostemonis Herba has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of inflammation-related disorders. Patchouli alcohol (PA) isolated from Pogostemonis Herba is a tricyclic sesquiterpene that is known to exert a variety of pharmacological activities. The present study aimed to investigate the anti-inflammatory effect of PA on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. Pre-treatment with PA at concentrations of 10, 20 or 40 µM dose-dependently decreased the production of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-a, interleukin (IL)-1B, IL-6, nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E2 in LPS-stimulated RAW264.7 cells. In addition, PA treatment also reversed the increased mRNA expression of TNF-a, IL-1B, IL-6, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 caused by LPS in RAW264.7 cells. These results indicate that PA is an important anti-inflammatory constituent of Pogostemonis Herba and that its anti-inflammatory effect may be mediated, at least in part, by down-regulation of the mRNA expression of a panel of inflammatory mediators, such as TNF-a, IL-1B, IL-6, iNOS and COX-2. (5)


Patchouli’s effect on LPS on rats was further documented in the studies below.

  • PA’s effect on mastistis in vivo:

Patchouli alcohol (PA), a tricyclic sesquiterpene isolated from Pogostemonis Herba, has been known to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and other important therapeutic activities. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of PA on LPS-induced mastitis in vivo and the possible mechanism. The mouse model of mastitis was induced by injection of LPS through the duct of mammary gland. Mice were pretreated with dexamethasone or PA 1 h before and 12 h after induction of LPS. The myeloperoxidase activity and inflammatory cytokines production in mammary tissues were determined. The effects of PA on NF-KB signal pathways were analyzed by Western blotting. The results showed that PA inhibited the LPS-induced TNF-a, IL-6, and IL-1B production in a dose manner. It was also observed that PA attenuated mammary histopathologic changes. Furthermore, Western blot analysis showed that PA could inhibit the phosphorylation of NF-KB and IKB induced by LPS. These results indicate that PA inhibits NF-KB signaling pathways to attenuate inflammatory injury induced by LPS. PA may be a potent therapeutic reagent for the prevention of mastitis. (6)

  •  PA on inflammatory mediators in mouse paw edema:

Pogostemonis Herba has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of inflammatory disorders. Patchouli alcohol (PA), a tricyclic sesquiterpene isolated from Pogostemonis Herba, is known to possess a variety of pharmacological activities. The present study aimed to investigate the in vivo anti-inflammatory effect of PA using two common inflammatory animal models i.e., xylene-induced ear edema in mice and carrageenan-induced paw edema in rats. The degree of edema in both inflammatory animals, as well as the protein and mRNA expression of some inflammatory mediators including tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a), interleukin-1B (IL-1B), prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and nitric oxide (NO) in the hind paw of carrageenan-treated rats were measured. Results showed that PA (10–40 mg/kg) significantly inhibited the ear edema induced by xylene in mice and the paw edema induced by carrageenan in rats. In addition, treatment with PA (10–40 mg/kg) also dose-dependently decreased the production of TNF-a, IL-1B, PGE2 and NO in the hind paw of carrageenan-treated rats. Furthermore, PA treatment also suppressed the mRNA expression of TNF-a, IL-1B, inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in the hind paw of carrageenan-treated rats. These results suggest that PA possesses potent anti-inflammatory activity, which may be mediated, at least in part, by down-regulating the mRNA expression of a panel of inflammatory mediators including TNF-a, IL-1B, iNOS and COX-2. (7)


Another study showed support for various cytokine (inflammation signaling) pathways modulated in an herbal blend that contained patchouli:

Ethnopharmacological relevance Chrysanthemum indicum (Compositae) Linné, Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth and Curcuma wenyujin (Zingiberaceae) Y. H. Chen et C. Ling are three of the extensively used herbal remedies among traditional Chinese medicines for the purpose of anti-inflammation. A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) recipe named CPZ consisting extracts of the above three herbs, has shown noteworthy anti-influenza activity, which is closely related to its anti-inflammatory feature.

Aim of this study To investigated the anti-inflammtory activity of CPZ in vivo for a further exploration of the recipe’s anti-inflammatory properties.

Materials and methods The anti-inflammatory property of CPZ on acute inflammation was evaluated by inflammatory models of dimethylbenzene (DMB)-induced ear vasodilatation and acetic acid-induced capillary permeability enhancement in mice, as well as the carrageenan-induced paw edema rat model, in which inflammation-related cytokine including prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), interleukin-1B (IL-1B), tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a), and nitric oxide (NO) in the edematous paw tissue were determined by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Moreover, effect of CPZ on chronic inflammation was observed through granuloma formation in rats subjected to cotton pellet implantation.

Results CPZ (340, 170, and 85 mg/kg for mice, p.o.) not only decreased the DMB-induced ear vasodilatation but also attenuated capillary permeability under acetic acid challenge in mice. And the significant inhibition on carrageenan-induced paw edema was observed. Further more, the ELISA results showed that CPZ (170, 85, and 42.5 mg/kg for rats, p.o.) could up-regulate the level of IL-1B in the edema paw tissue of rats significantly while down-regulate that of PGE2, but no apparent effect on TNF-a or NO was observed in the test. Besides, CPZ had a certain degree of restraining effect on the cotton pellet-induced granuloma formation in rats and the highest dose of 170 mg/kg even showed a significant suppression on it.

Conclusion The above results indicated that CPZ possessed a potent anti-inflammatory activity, which is indicated to be closely associated with its regulation on IL-1B and PGE2 thereby mediating the inflammatory response acting at an appropriate level. (8)



Bugs3. Making Microbes Unwelcome On Petri Dishes

The following abstracts review various in vitro activity of patchouli on various microbes:

Medicinal plants are the wealthy source of antibacterial agents and curatives.

Tecoma stans, Coleus forskohlii and Pogostemon patchouli are commonly practiced medicinal plants in the villages of Salem District, Tamilnadu (India). Plants grown in this region are not systematically tested for their biological activities in general and antimicrobial activity in particular. Hence, In vitro antibacterial activity of crude leaf extracts of these 3 plants was tested by disc diffusion method against 5 human pathogenic bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Salmonella typhi, Klebsiella pneumonia and Vibrio parahemolyticus. Gram-negative bacterial strains were more susceptible to the crude extracts as compare to gram-positive. However, this study revealed maximum growth inhibition and effectiveness was remarkably observed in the extracts of Coleus forskohlii, Pogostemon patchouli and then in Tecoma stans.These results indicate that leaves have a potential broad spectrum antibacterial activity. (9)


In the present study, the antimicrobial tests of patchouli oil were studied by using molecular docking technology and antimicrobial test in vitro. Five biological macromolecule enzymes, required by the bacteria in the process of biosynthesis were selected as target molecules. Five antibiotics benzylpenicillin, sulfadiazine, trimethoprim, rifampicin and ciprofloxacin, which are generally acknowledged as antibacterial drugs, were selected as reference compounds. The 3 three-dimensional (3D) structures of the 5 reference compounds and 26 compounds from patchouli oil were established by using surflex-dock software (8.1). And the 3D structures of five biological macromolecule enzymes derived from Protein Data Bank (PDB). Molecular docking was carried out between the 31 chemical compounds (ligands) and the 5 enzymes (receptors) by using surflex-dock function. Furthermore, the antibacterial effects of 31 chemical compounds were investigated by the scoring function after molecular docking was completed. By comparing the scoring result of 26 compounds in patchouli oil with 5 compared components, we inferred antibacterial activity in about 26 compounds in patchouli oil. On the other hand, six frequently-used pathogenic bacteria were selected for antimicrobial test in vitro, patchouli oil and its two major compounds: (-)-patchouli alcohol and pogostone, which their contents exceeded 60% in patchouli oil samples, were selected antibacterial agents. Minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) and Minimum bactericidal concentration (MBC) were also determined. Molecular docking technology and antimicrobial test in vitro proved that patchouli oil had strong antimicrobial effects. Particularly, pogostone and (-)-patchouli alcohol have potent antimicrobial activity. (10)


The essential oils of aegle, ageratum, citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, lemongrass, orange, palmarosa, patchouli and peppermint, were tested for antibacterial activity against 22 bacteria, including Gram-positive cocci and rods and Gram-negative rods, and twelve fungi (3 yeast-like and 9 filamentous) by the disc diffusion method. Lemongrass, eucalyptus, peppermint and orange oils were effective against all the 22 bacterial strains. Aegle and palmarosa oils inhibited 21 bacteria; patchouli and ageratum oils inhibited 20 bacteria and citronella and geranium oils were inhibitory to 15 and 12 bacterial strains, respectively. All twelve fungi were inhibited by seven oils (aegle, citronella, geranium, lemongrass, orange, palmarosa and patchouli). Eucalyptus and peppermint oils were effective against eleven fungi. Ageratum oil was inhibitory to only four fungi tested. The MIC of eucalyptus, lemongrass, palmarosa and peppermint oils ranged from 0.16 to > 20 microliters ml-1 for eighteen bacteria and from 0.25 to 10 microliters ml-1 for twelve fungi. (11)


A study in vitro and in vivo with our four-legged rodent friends on the use of patchouli oil on MRSA:

BACKGROUND: Our previous antibacterial studies on several traditional Chinese medicines have found that Patchouli oil from Pogostemon cablin had significant antibacterial activity against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which has spread worldwide and infected innumerable people. In order to find the more active natural substances in Patchouli oil, one of the major components, Pogostone, was isolated and its antibacterial activity was evaluated in vitro and in vivo in this study.

METHODS: In vitro test, Pogostone was screened for antimicrobial properties against 83 bacteria comprising 35 gram positive and 48 gram negative bacteria strains via the agar double dilution method. In vivo test, specific pathogen free (SPF) strain of both male and female white Kunming mice, weighing 18-22 g, were used to test the protective ability of Pogostone after being injected with the median lethal doses (MLDs) of the tested strains.

RESULTS: In vitro test, Pogostone could inhibit both gram negative bacteria (0.098-1 600 µg/ml) and gram positive bacteria (0.098-800 µg/ml). For Corynebacterium xerosis and some Chryseobacterium indologenes, the minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) values of Pogostone were extremely low (<0.098 µg/ml). It was significant that Pogostone was also active against some drug-resistant bacteria like MRSA. Furthermore, Pogostone showed antibacterial activity in vivo against Escherichia coli (E. coli) and MRSA via intraperitoneal injection. Ninety percent of the mice infected with E. coil could be protected at the concentrations of 50 and 100 mg/kg, and 60% of the mice at 25 mg/kg, while the rate of protection for the mice infected with MRSA was 60% and 50% at doses of 100 and 50 mg/kg, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Pogostone could be developed as a potential antibacterial agent for clinical therapy. (12)



An in vitro study of patchouli’s sesquiterprene (PA) on influenza showed only weak inhibition; however, the whole oil in synergism was not tested, which may contain components that differ in PA’s effect:

During the screening of anti-influenza virus substances from traditional herbal medicines, the methanol extract from the leaves of Pogostemon cablin Benth. showed potent in vitro antiviral activity (99.8% inhibition at a concentration of 10 ?g/mL) against influenza virus A/PR/8/34 (H1N1). The anti-influenza virus principle was isolated from the hexane-soluble fraction, through solvent fractionation, repeated silica gel column chromatography, and reversed-phase HPLC. The major active principle was a volatile substance that was identified as a sesquiterpene, patchouli alcohol (1), on the basis of its spectral analyses. When anti-influenza virus activity against A/PR/8/34 was evaluated by the plaque forming assay, patchouli alcohol reduced the number of plaques by 75% at 2 ?g/mL and 89% at 10 ?g/mL. Patchouli alcohol showed dose-dependent anti-influenza virus activity, and its IC50 value was estimated to be 2.635 ?M. Although 11 different sesquiterpenes were tested for antiviral activity against influenza virus A/PR/8/34, no or negligible activity was observed except for patchouli alcohol. Patchouli alcohol did not show anti-influenza virus activity against A/Guizhou/54/89 (H3N2), but showed weak activity against B/Ibaraki/2/85 (IC50 = 40.82 ?M). Patchouli alcohol did not show inhibitory activity against influenza virus neuraminidase. (13)

I’d like to see more studies on patchouli’s action on viruses, but perhaps there’s enough patchouli does with microbes, inflammation, and immune-modulation already.


PageLines- forms-icon.png4. Belly Health

This study demonstrates that PA has selective inhibition of H. pylori in vitro. This isn’t the coolest part, the study below it reported that it actually helped heal the stomach tissue:

The aim of this study is to evaluate the antibacterial activity and urease inhibitory effects of patchouli alcohol (PA), the bioactive ingredient isolated from Pogostemonis Herba, which has been widely used for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The activities of PA against selected bacteria and fungi were determined by agar dilution method. It was demonstrated that PA exhibited selective antibacterial activity against Helicobacter pylori, without influencing the major normal gastrointestinal bacteria. Noticeably, the antibacterial activity of PA was superior to that of amoxicillin, with minimal inhibition concentration value of 78µg/mL. On the other hand, PA inhibited ureases from H.pylori and jack bean in concentration-dependent fashion with IC50 values of 2.67±0.79mM and 2.99±0.41mM, respectively. Lineweaver-Burk plots indicated that the type of inhibition was non-competitive against H.?pylori urease whereas uncompetitive against jack bean urease. Reactivation of PA-inactivated urease assay showed DL-dithiothreitol, the thiol reagent, synergistically inactivated urease with PA instead of enzymatic activity recovery. In conclusion, the selective H.pylori antibacterial activity along with urease inhibitory potential of PA could make it a possible drug candidate for the treatment of H.pylori infection. (14)

An in vivo study in rats supports PA’s H.pylori inhibiting activity and boosting of belly mucus secretion (while modulating inflammation). That’s a lot of work for one little oil:


  • Patchouli alcohol (PA) possessed potent gastroprotective effect.
  • PA enhanced prostaglandin E2 production and non-protein sulfhydryl group content.
  • PA preserved gastric blood flow and boost gastric mucus secretion.
  • PA promoted COX-1 and COX-2 mRNA expression after indomethacin administration.
  • Underlying mechanisms also involved the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory status.


Pogostemonis Herba is an important Chinese medicine widely used in the treatment of gastrointestinal dysfunction. Patchouli alcohol (PA), a tricyclic sesquiterpene, is the major active constituent of Pogostemonis Herba. This study aimed to investigate the possible anti-ulcerogenic potential of PA and the underlying mechanism against ethanol, indomethacin and water immersion restraint-induced gastric ulcers in rats. Gross and histological gastric lesions, biochemical and immunological parameters were taken into consideration. The gastric mucus content and the antisecretory activity were analyzed through pylorus ligature model in rats. Results indicated that oral administration with PA significantly reduced the ulcer areas induced by ethanol, indomethacin and water immersion restraint. PA pretreatment significantly promoted gastric prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) and non-protein sulfhydryl group (NP-SH) levels, upregulated the cyclooxygenase-1 (COX-1) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) mRNA expression, and considerably boosted the gastric blood flow (GBF) and gastric mucus production in comparison with vehicle. In addition, PA modulated the levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-10 (IL-10) and tumor necrosis factor-a (TNF-a). The levels of glutathione (GSH), catalase (CAT) and malonaldehyde (MDA) were also restored by PA. However, the gastric secretion parameters (pH, volume of gastric juice and pepsin) did not show any significant alteration. These findings suggest that PA exhibited significant gastroprotective effects against gastric ulceration. The underlying mechanisms might involve the stimulation of COX-mediated PGE2, improvement of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory status, preservation of GBF and NP-SH, as well as boost of gastric mucus production. (15)


PageLines- forms-icon.png5. Liver Health

This study in rats demonstrated a protective effect from liver toxicity with patchouli:

Cucumis sativus (Cucumber), a very commonly used plant in India and Pogostemon patchouli (Patchouli), a herb from traditional Chinese medicine have been screened earlier for antioxidant activity which is considered to be basic action required for an organ protective action. The present study was aimed to evaluate hepatoprotective potential of Cucumis sativus and Pogostemon patchouli against carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) induced hepatotoxicity in rats. A single i.p injection of 1ml of CCl4 /kg body weight in olive oil (1:1) induced liver marker enzymes such as alkaline phosphatase (ALP), serum glutamate pyruvate transaminase (SGPT), serum glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (SGOT), bilirubin (TBIL) and distorted the hepatic tissue architecture along with increased levels of lipid peroxides (LPO) and reduction of total protein (TPROT), catalase (CAT) and reduced glutathione (GSH) in liver tissue. Treatment groups receiving higher doses of both plant extracts significantly (p<0.01) restored the levels of all biochemical parameters and antioxidant system of the body towards standard control. Extent of lipid peroxidation was also found to be less (p<0.05), restoring the structural integrity of hepatocytes as compared to disease group. Silymarin was used as standard drug. Result interpretation supported hepatoprotective role biochemically and histologically. Thus above plants can be further studied for isolation of responsible active components, deducing possible way of mechanism of action of these plants in liver protection. (16)


PageLines- forms-icon.png6. Skin Support

The following 2 abstracts demonstrate that patchouli may support skin exposed to UVA radiation in mouse models:

Ultraviolet (UV) irradiation, known to generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) excessively and elicit inflammatory response, is a potent inducer for skin photoaging. Overproduction of ROS in conjunction with the resulting inflammation stimulate the over-expression of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), which in turn causes degradation of extracellular matrix, leading finally to coarse wrinkling, dryness, and laxity of the skin. In this study, patchouli alcohol (PA, C15H26O), an active chemical ingredient reputed for free radical scavenging and anti-inflammatory properties, was investigated for its anti-photoaging action using a mouse model whose dorsal skin was depilated. The dorsal skin areas of six-week-old mice were smeared with PA solution or vehicle, followed by UV irradiation for nine consecutive weeks. Protective effects of PA were evaluated macroscopically and histologically, as well as by assaying the antioxidant enzymes (SOD, GSH-Px) activities, the contents of inflammatory factors (IL-10, IL-6, TNF-a), and the levels of MMP-1 and MMP-3. Our findings amply demonstrated that PA significantly accelerated the recovery of the UV-induced skin lesions, evidently through anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory action, as well as down-regulation of the MMP-1 and MMP-3 expression. (17)


Ethnopharmacological relevance Pogostemon cablin has been widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of many diseases, including skin disorders. In the skin beauty and care prescriptions, Pogostemon cablin is one of the top ten frequently used traditional Chinese medicines.

Aim of the study The present study was aimed to investigate the protective effects of the essential oil of Pogostemon cablin (patchouli oil, PO) against UV-induced skin photoaging in mice.

Materials and methods To ensure the quality of PO, the chemical compositions of PO were identified, and the content of its chemical marker patchouli alcohol was determined, which was around 28.2% (g/g) in PO. During the experiment period, the dorsal depilated skin of mice was treated with PO for two hours prior to UV irradiation. Then the protective effects of PO on UV-induced skin photoaging were determined by macroscopic and histological evaluations, skin elastic test, collagen content determination and biochemical assays of malondiaidehyde (MDA) content, activities of anti-oxidative indicators including superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px), and catalase (CAT).

Results Compared to UV exposure groups, present results showed that topical administration of PO, especially at dose of 6 mg/mouse and 9 mg/mouse, significantly inhibited the increase in skin wrinkle formation, alleviated the reduction in skin elasticity and increased the collagen content by about 21.9% and 26.3%, respectively. We also found that application of 6–9 mg/mouse PO could not only decrease the epidermal thickness by about 32.6%, but also prevent the UV-induced disruption of collagen fibers and elastic fibers. Furthermore, the content of MDA was decreased by almost 26.5% and activities of SOD, GSH-Px and CAT were significantly up-regulated after the treatment of PO.

Conclusion Results of present study revealed that PO was capable of maintaining skin structural integrity caused by UV irradiation and it was useful in preventing photoaging. These protective effects of PO were possibly due to its anti-oxidative property. Therefore, we suggested that PO should be viewed as a potential therapeutic agent for preventing photoaging. (18)


water drop7. A Fun Biochemical PA Soup of Immune Supporting Compounds

Patchouli contains a wide array of constituents and how it is distilled makes a difference:

Patchouli essential oil can be obtained from fresh, dried and fermented plant material. It is a highly valuable product in the fragrance industry and its quality changes depending upon raw material age and oil storage. In this work, patchouli essential oils derived from different treatments have been subjected to GC-FID quantitative analysis using an internal standard (ISTD) method with response factors (RF). Samples were obtained from i) fresh plants; ii) hydrodistillation of one year mature and fermented plants; iii) hydrodistillation of one year mature plants; iv) commercial products from Indonesia and Malaysia. Linear Retention Indices (LRI) for both polar and non-polar GC-MS analyses were also measured as a tool for qualitative analysis towards a homologous series of C7-C30 n-alkanes. The results obtained confirmed that, in all samples, patchouli alcohol was the main volatile constituent, with higher amount in lab-scale produced oils, compared with commercial samples. Other major compounds, in lab oils and commercial samples respectively, were: delta-guaiene, alpha-guaiene, pogostol, seychellene and alpha-patchoulene. Another 36 compounds were also found. (19)


The results of a purified patchouli alcohol have shown the benefits mentioned above and also supports immunomodulation in this rodent study:

Purpose: To isolate and purify patchouli alcohol (PA), a tricyclic sesquiterpene constituent of Pogostemon cablin, and investigate its immunomodulatory potential in Kunming mice.
Methods: PA was prepared from an ethanol aqueous extract of P. cablin by silica gel column chromatography, and further purified by crystallization using n-hexane. Purity was assessed by analytical gas chromatography (GC) and confirmation of chemical structure performed by Fourier transform infrared (FTIR), nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and mass spectrometry (MS). The effect of PA from Pogostemon cablin on immunological function was studied by macrophage phagocytosis, immune organ index, serum immunoglobulin level and delayed type  hypersensitivity (DTH) in mice that were administered orally doses of 20, 40 and 80 mg/kg.
Results: The purity of PA was 99.3%. The oral administration of PA (40, or 80 mg/kg body weight) significantly increased the phagocytic index (p < 0.05), compared with prednisone acetate (PR) group. Administration of PA (80 mg/kg) boosted the production of circulating serum IgM (0.081 ± 0.010) and IgG (1.296 ± 0.120), while IgM and IgG in PR group was 0.069 ± 0.011 (p < 0.01) and 1.180 ± 0.070 (p < 0.01) respectively. However, PA (20 mg/kg) treatment elicited significant decrease in DTH induced by 2, 4-dinitro-chlorobenzene (DNCB) in mice (1.03 ± 0.40, p < 0.05), in comparison to DNCB-induced group (1.67 ± 0.84 mg).
Conclusion: These results suggest that PA has significant immunomodulatory properties which probably act by activating mononuclear phagocytic system, augmenting humoral immune response while suppressing cellular immune response. (20)

Calculation of dosage for 150 lb human:

  • Minimum dosage: 20 mg = .0007 oz / 2.2 lbs
  • Approximately 1360mg = 150 lbs
  • .047 oz /150 lbs about 1.4 ml


This study with mice with LPS lung injury report PA inhibited inflammatory chemical signals:

Background Patchouli alcohol (PA), a natural compound isolated from Pogostemon cablin, has been reported to possess anti-inflammatory activity. However, the effects of PA on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced acute lung injury (ALI) have not yet been studied. In the present study, we investigated in vivo the effect of PA on ALI induced by LPS.

Methods Mice were administrated intranasally with LPS to induce lung injury. PA was administrated intraperitoneally 1 h before or after the LPS challenge.

Results The results showed that PA significantly decreased the wet-to-dry weight ratio of lungs and the number of total cells, neutrophils, and macrophages in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid at 7 h after the LPS challenge. In addition, PA also suppressed the production of inflammatory cytokines, such as tumor necrosis factor-a, interleukin-1B, and interleukin-6 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Furthermore, Western blot analysis showed that PA inhibited the phosphorylation of IKB-a and p65 nuclear factor B (NF-KB) induced by LPS.

Conclusions Our results suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of PA against LPS-induced ALI may be due to its ability to inhibit NF-?B signaling pathways. (21)



Patchouli is definitely an oil I shouldn’t have overlooked in my favorite Abundance® essential oil blend. Besides modulating immune health and inflammatory pathways, preventing microbial growth, protecting our skin, and supporting our gut, patchouli contains one of my favorite compounds in essential oils- sesquiterpenes! I will have to work my nose up to the straight patchouli single oil very soon.


Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic, Grade A essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been AFNOR and ISO standardized. There is no quality control in the United States and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin.

This information is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness.


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(1) Patchouli alcohol, an essential oil of Pogostemon cablin, exhibits anti-tumorigenic activity in human colorectal cancer cells (abstract). Int Immunopharmacol. 2013 Jun;16(2):184-90. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2013.04.006. Epub 2013 Apr 17.

(2) Farooqi, Ammad Ahmad. Anticancer activity of Essential Oils: targeting of protein network in cancer cells. 2014. Asian Pacific journal of cancer prevention: APJCP 15.

(3) Lipopolysaccharide causes an increase in intestinal tight junction permeability in vitro and in vivo by inducing enterocyte membrane expression and localization of TLR-4 and CD14. Am J Pathol. 2013 Feb;182(2):375-87. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.10.014. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

(4) Jeong, Jin Boo, Yong Kyu Shin, and Seong-Ho Lee. Anti-inflammatory activity of patchouli alcohol in RAW264. 7 and HT-29 cells. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2013; 55: 229-233.

(5) Xian, Yan-Fang, et al. Anti-inflammatory effect of patchouli alcohol isolated from Pogostemonis Herba in LPS-stimulated RAW264. 7 macrophages. Experimental and therapeutic medicine. 2011. 2.3: 545-550.

(6) Patchouli Alcohol Dampens Lipopolysaccharide Induced Mastitis in Mice. Inflammation. October 2014. 37(5): 1757-1762.

(7)Li, Yu-Cui, et al. Anti-inflammatory activity of patchouli alcohol isolated from Pogostemonis Herba in animal models. Fitoterapia. 82.8 (2011): 1295-1301.

(8) Experimental study on anti-inflammatory activity of a TCM recipe consisting of the supercritical fluid CO2 extract of Chrysanthemum indicum, Patchouli Oil and Zedoary Turmeric Oil in vivo. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. June 2012. 141(2): 608-614

(9) Senthilkumar, C. S., M. SURESH Kumar, and M. RAJASEKARA Pandian. In Vitro Antibacterial activity of crude leaf extracts from tecoma stans (L) Juss. et Kunth, Coleus Forskohlii and Pogostemon Patchouli against human pathogenic bacteria. Int J Pharm Tech Res. 2010; 2: 438-42.

(10) Evaluation of the Antibacterial Activity of Patchouli Oil. Iran J Pharm Res. 2013 Summer; 12(3): 307–316. PMCID: PMC3813264

(11) Antibacterial and antifungal activity of ten essential oils in vitro. (PMID:8893526)

(12) In vitro and in vivo antibacterial activity of Pogostone. Chin Med J (Engl). 2014 Dec;127(23):4001-5. PMID: 25430439

(13) Patchouli alcohol: in vitro direct anti-influenza virus sesquiterpene in Pogostemon cablin Benth. Journal of Natural Medicines. January 2012. 66(1); 55-61

(14) Yu X.-D., Xie J.-H., Wang Y.-H., Li Y.-C., Mo Z.-Z., Zheng Y.-F., Su J.-Y., Liang Y.-e., Liang J.-Z., Su Z.-R., and Huang P. Selective Antibacterial Activity of Patchouli Alcohol Against Helicobacter pylori Based on Inhibition of Urease, Phytotherapy Research. 2014. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.5227

(15) Gastroprotective effect and mechanism of patchouli alcohol against ethanol, indomethacin and stress-induced ulcer in rats. Chemico-Biological Interactions. October 2014. 222(5): 27–36. doi:10.1016/j.cbi.2014.08.008

(16) Antihepatotoxic Potential of Cucumis sativus and Pogostemon patchouli against Carbon tetrachloride induced. Hepatotoxicity. IAJPR. 2013; 3(11): 9213-9221

(17) Effects of topical application of patchouli alcohol on the UV-induced skin photoaging in mice. European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 63(15). October 2014:113–123.

(18) Prevention of UV radiation-induced cutaneous photoaging in mice by topical administration of patchouli oil. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. June 2014. 154 (2): 408-418. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.04.020

(19) Quantitative and physical evaluation of patchouli essential oils obtained from different sources of Pogostemon cablin. Nat Prod Commun. 2012 Jul;7(7):927-30. PMID: 23602914

(20) Immunomodulatory Potential of Patchouli Alcohol Isolated from Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth (Lamiaceae) in Mice. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 2013. 12(4).

(21) Patchouli alcohol protects against lipopolysaccharide-induced acute lung injury in mice. Journal of Surgical Research. October 2014. doi:10.1016/j.jss.2014.10.026

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