Ancient Ties to Aromatherapy: Patchouli & Neroli

Aromatic scents have certainly evolved over time. Let’s take patchouli for instance. Shawls from India were scented with patchouli oil as a way to repel insects and preserve the cloth. These accessories were quite popular during Victorian and Edwardian times. However, the scent would later gain a reputation for another era in history. In this article, you will learn how patchouli fits into the world of aromatherapy.


One of the iconic scents of the 1960s was patchouli, which was a popular scent of incense burned during the days of ‘make love, not war.’ The fragrance of the oil is described as being rather exotic with a rich, earthy, sweet scent that warms. The scent originated in India and Indonesia , gaining a reputation for calming and treating a person with nervous exhaustion. When baking incense, people in India will use patchouli as a base. When in a dried, powdered form, the leaves give the incense a deep earthy fragrance.

Patchouli is a perennial, bushy herb that reaches three feet in height. The leaves of the plant are large and velvety. If you smell the leaves, you will detect a strong scent of the oil. To get the most out of the scent, you may want to pair it with one of the following blends: sandalwood, frankincense, lemon, orange, and lavender.

Some say that the scent is sensual enough to be deemed an aphrodisiac , appealing to both men and women. Other uses of patchouli outside of aromatherapy include treating inflammatory conditions, clearing up acne, soothing chapped skin, easing scalp problems, curbing indigestion, and calming stomach aches.


The scent of neroli (orange blossom) dates back to ancient Egyptian days and was considered a favorite of the infamous Cleopatra. To create the alluring floral oil, it takes a great number of flowers just to produce a small amount. Because of this, it is a costly fragrance to get a hold of. In later times, neroli found its way into bridal bouquets as a way to softly calm any frayed nerves a woman may experience during her walk down the aisle.

Neroli is an evergreen tree that can reach 33 feet tall. The leaves are shiny and dark green in color , producing fragrant white flowers. It is from these blooms that we get the aromatic oil. The scent is described as fresh and citrusy with undertones of floral greenery. The plant has roots in Italy and Morocco. In aromatherapy circles, neroli is used to alleviate mental stress. People in shock or a state of panic are said to respond well to the fragrance.

To maximize the potential of neroli, you may blend it with other oils, such as rose, lavender, frankincense, sandalwood, lemon, and patchouli. Other uses of neroli outside of aromatherapy include caring for dry, sensitive skin, healing scar tissue, easing stomach cramps, calming indigestion, and treating irritable bowel syndrome.