Using Aromatic Herbs

Peppermint growing against my garage.
  Peppermint growing against my garage.
I spent a couple hours this evening planting lavender and a selection of aromatic herbs like more rosemary, sage, basil, oregano, thyme and curry to join my lavender and herbs that returned from last year. Even though the lavender I planted today was quite precious in size, the aroma was abundant as I watered my new plants. Now that's my kind of aromatherapy!

If you are thinking of planting herbs but aren't sure what to do them beyond using them for culinary purposes, check out the following pages on AromaWeb:

What are Infused Oils?/How to Make an Infused Oil

Herbal Tincture Recipe for Aromatherapy/Skin Care

Other Ideas:

A few years ago, I purchased the smallest Excalibur brand dehydrator model. I love it for drying herbs so that I can enjoy them for culinary, aromatic and medicinal purposes year round. To date, I've been quite pleased with this dehydrator, though you may wish to consider getting one of the larger models.

I also love making my own tea (herbal infusion) using fresh picked or dehydrated herbs from the garden.

Related AromaTalk Posts:

Growing Patchouli

Growing and Enjoying Peppermint, Spearmint and Other Mint Plants

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Stopping to Smell the Roses

Lavender and a Rose Surrounding a Sprig of Rosemary
Lavender and a Rose Surrounding a Sprig of Rosemary  
I was in a typical rush this evening between errands, texting my daughter off at college, helping two of AromaWeb's valued advertisers and taking out the trash (hmmm a line from Liz Phair's song Extraordinary just popped into my head) when my blooming roses caught my eye - and nose. Now that's my kind of aromatherapy.

I still consider myself a novice gardener of just a few short years. This year, my time for gardening has been much more limited, and I'm thrilled that my plants have been fairly forgiving. As much as I silently groan about some of the stereotypical aspects of living in Metro-Detroit, I can't help but love the four seasons and enjoying roses and many of my other herbs/plants well into the Fall months.

Shown above are lavender, a rose and a sprig of rosemary that I picked moments ago. I just had to share! Are you making time to stop and "smell the roses?"

Growing Patchouli

Patchouli Leaves
Patchouli Leaves Taken From My Plant  
I'm not alone in my fondness for Patchouli Essential Oil...

Despite its aroma being an "acquired taste" (so to speak) for some, Patchouli Essential Oil is remarkably versatile. I use patchouli in skin care applications, emotionally in diffuser blends, romantically in sensual blends, spiritually at times for meditation, and in making natural personal fragrances.

Patchouli Plant
  Patchouli Plant Grown in Michigan
Unlike most essential oils that oxidize and diminish in therapeutic and aromatic quality over time, Patchouli Essential Oil improves with age like a fine wine.

Often associated with the hippies and the 1960s, the fragrance of patchouli is rich, earthy and grounding. In perfumery and fragrancing applications, patchouli is a base note that acts as a fixative and grounds a blend. Its aroma is suitable for unisex and men's blends. It can act as an aphrodisiac. In skin and hair care, patchouli is a wonderful staple to keep on hand. It is helpful for most all skin types ranging from dry, cracked skin all the way to helping to regulate oily skin and acne. Those with eczema, psoriasis and dandruff have said that patchouli is especially helpful for them. Emotionally, patchouli is calming and grounding. Spiritually, patchouli has been used alone or in blends during prayer and meditation. For more information, view AromaWeb's Patchouli Essential Oil Profile.

Close-Up of Patchouli Leaves
  Close-Up of Patchouli Leaves
Patchouli thrives in tropical regions and can be found in Hawaii, regions of Asia and other tropical areas of the world.

I've been curious to learn more about the actual botanical (Pogostemon cablin) that the oil is distilled from. A few months ago, I was delighted to learn that patchouli is capable of growing outdoors in the midwest during the warmer summer months. I haven't personally found patchouli plants available for sale here in Michigan (Zone 5), but I decided to seek out a nursery online that ships patchouli across the US. Although the poor plant arrived in pathetic condition and was not properly packaged for shipment, I was able to nurse it back to health, and it's now doing splendidly. I'm looking forward to see it flower come fall.

Fresh patchouli leaves are quite fragrant and are green and earthy in aroma. Although my patchouli plant is now thriving, the growing conditions here in Zone 5 certainly aren't ideal. Although I'm sure that the natural essential oil in my plant isn't as outstanding as if this plant was grown in optimal conditions by an experienced grower, it's nice to be able to finally learn more about the fresh botanical.

Patchouli Extract
  Patchouli Tincture (Patchouli Extract)
I'm curious to see if the leaves are suitable for use in making a pleasantly aromatic tincture. This weekend, I harvested leaves off the plant and am in the beginning stages of making two jars of tincture using the fresh leaves (see photo at right). I'm also curious to know if there is any aromatic difference in the resulting tincture by starting either with fresh leaves or with leaves that are first dried. To find out, I'm in the midst of dehydrating some of the leaves using my Excalibur Dehydrator. Once they are dried, I will create additional tincture using the dried leaves. You can learn how to make herbal tinctures/extracts by viewing AromaWeb's Herbal Tinctures Recipe.

I'm going to attempt to keep the patchouli plant indoors during the cooler months. Do you have experience in raising patchouli outside of its natural habitat? If so, please leave a comment or drop me an e-mail. I'd love to hear from you.