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Huo Xiang (Patchouli): The antimicrobial aphrodisiac

Patchouli, the aphrodisiac known for its pleasant aroma and versatile applications, has been used as part of traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Possessing many medicinal and aromatic purposes. Warm in nature with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties as well as a grounding aroma. This blog post will delve into the health benefits of patchouli, its role in Chinese medicine, and its diverse applications.

An essential oil bottle laid next to a patchouli plant.

Patchouli in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, patchouli is known by various names, including “Huo Xiang” and “Guang Huo Xiang”. It is believed to possess warming and drying qualities that can treat dampness and coldness in the body.

Dampness or “Shi” refers to excess fluid in the body, characterised by feeling sluggish. It can obstruct the flow of Qi, the body’s vital energy, causing swelling, fatigue, digestive issues, and inflammation. Coldness or “Han” refers to a lack of warmth in the body which can indicate a deficiency of Yang energy and is characterised by slowed bodily functions. Patchouli can help harmonise and regulate the flow of Qi to ease these symptoms as well as nausea and abdominal pains. Often being used as part of herbal formulas that treat digestive weakness. Most recently research has looked at its use in formulas to treat and prevent Covid-19.

A bunch of Pathcouli plants.

Patchouli contains the compounds patchouli alcohol and alpha-bulnesene which are known to have anti-inflammatory and potentially pre-biotic properties so it may help alleviate skin inflammation and provide relief from conditions like eczema or arthritis. As an essential oil, it has also been found to have antimicrobial effects, meaning it can be used to alleviate dermatitis and fungal infections whilst having a cooling effect on irritated skin. It is even used in regular skincare due to its moisturising and skin cell regenerating properties. It can soothe dry skin, promote wound healing, and reduce the appearance of scars or wrinkles. Patchouli has even traditionally been used on the skin as an insect repellent.

Additionally, Patchouli contains antioxidants that can neutralise harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that can damage the healthy molecules in the body, causing oxidative stress which has been linked to various health issues including cardiovascular diseases.


Known for its distinct musky aroma, Patchouli has been shown in research when inhaled to effectively reduce the levels of stress and increase "compassion satisfaction" Research was performed using nurses who worked in the stressful environment of A&E and were found to have better job satisfaction. Often described as warm, woody, and slightly sweet. It is used in aromatherapy for its calming, uplifting and aphrodisiac effects to ground and balance the mind. Perfect for times of worry or a tendency towards overthinking. It also can connect body and mind making it ideal for those who have mentally active jobs to help reconnection to physical desires.

Patchouli is a key ingredient in the Pillow blend, providing you with a synergistic uplifting through its calming and stimulating effect.

Included to support your spleen Qi, creating harmony by grounding &, stabilising the mind. Opening you to the possibility of an active and fertile imagination.

Discover more of Laura's range here

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