By Poulami Saha and Pawan K Kaushik
A large number of people in developing countries aretraditionally dependanton products derived from plants, especially from forests, for curing human and livestock ailments. Additionally, several aromatic plants are popular for domestic and commercial uses. Collectively they are called medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs). Among many MAPs, Patchouli (PogostemoncablinBenth.) syn. (Pogostemon patchouli Pellet.) is one of the important aromatic herbaceous perennial plants whichbelongs to the family Lamiaceae and yields an essential oil which is commercially knownas patchouli oil.
There are three main species in this genus,Pogestemoncablin (Benth) Syn. Pogestemonpatchouliit has more commercial value since the oil content of the leaves is higher compared to the other species. It varies from 2-6 percent, but in the other species viz. P. heyneanus and P.hortensis, it varies from 0.05 to 2 percent only. Pogestemonpatchouli grows to a height of about 1 m and it has hairless stem and twigs in quadrangular and have opposite leaves too. The leaves are of a pale green colour, heart-shaped, slightly lobed and with downy hairs the leaves have glands which secrete the real oil.
The land selected for Patchouli cultivation should be invariably flood free and not subjected to water stagnation for any length of period.The ridge and furrow may be made of size 20-25 cm high and 18-22 cm broad with 70 cm row-to-row distance. The beds should be irrigated a day before transplanting. Individual beds are leveled to avoid water stagnation and to ensure quick surface drainage. It thrives best in hot and humid conditions, therefore easily acceptable to grow in the humid climatic condition in the state of Tripura.
A well decomposed organic manures such as cow dung / compost / Farm Yard Manure and also poultry manure should be applied at the time of land preparation @ 2-3 t/ha depending on availability and soil condition. Well decomposed cow dung may be applied each year after harvest. Application of neem cake @1 ton/acre is much beneficial as it supplies plant nutrients besides keeping down the nematode population. The recommended dose of phosphorus and potash can apply in the form of straight fertilizers viz., Single Super Phosphate (16% P2O5) and Murate of Potash (60% K2O).Patchouli is susceptible to insects, diseases and nematode problems.
The following control measures are necessary for risk free successful patchouli cultivation. 10-12 kg/acre of pesticides should be applied to prevent pests and diseases at the time of final land preparation. Kerosene canalso be applied with irrigation water @ 1 lit / acre to keep down the insect attack.All parts of the plant, i.e., roots, stem, branches, stalks andleaves contain essential oil. Patchouli oil is one of the most important essential oil of the perfumery industry, as the oil blends well worth other essential oils like vetiver, sandalwood, geranium, lavender, clove, frankincense, bergamot, cedar wood, myrrh, jasmine, rose and the citrus oils etc.
The oil is used as a ‘base’ material in perfumery industry as it has one of the best strong fixatives properties in heavy perfumes. It also possesses many medicinal properties, the essential oil is used as a massage oil, cool inflamed skin, clear rough cracked skin, sores, and wounds and to treat minor skin disorders such as acne, dermatitis and used extensively in the manufacture of perfumes, incense soaps, hair tonic, tobacco and cosmetics.
It is used as a topical remedy for skin problems such as acne, eczema, inflamed, cracked, chapped and irritated skin. It is known as a cell rejuvenator and helpful in healing wounds and scars. As an antifungal, patchouli oil has been used to treat athlete's foot. For the hair, patchouli oil has been used for dandruff and to aid oily hair. It is also known as uplifting fragrance that helps to soothe away every day care, and to bring about a sense of nourishmentand even use as a room freshener also. Besides, the oil it is also used as flavour ingredients in the major food products, including alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages; Patchouli oil has had a long history of medicinal use in India, China and Japan. Patchouli has a sweet spicy aroma, with a hint of musk, used to stimulate the nervous system, lift depressed moods, relieve stress and give a feeling of elation and wellbeing.
Patchouli is believed to help balance the endocrine system, which in turn balances the hormones of the body. The aroma assists the body to relax and promotes a feeling of peace. It also stimulates the pituitary gland, which secretes endorphins, which are known for their ability to relieve pain, reduce tension, insomnia and anxiety.