What is Helichrysum Essential Oil?
The helichrysum essential oil is the substance extracted by steam distillation from the flowers, petals and buds of the plant. Belonging to Asteraceae, the family of daisies, it has more than 600 species from different geographical regions of Eurasia, Africa, Madagascar and Australasia.
Its botanical taxonomy is complex and still controversial. The most important and popular representation is the Helichrysum Italicum, from which the essential oil is obtained. It is also known as Everlasting, Italian Helichrysum and Inmortelle.
Native to the Mediterranean area, it grows distributed in countries such as Italy, Spain, France and countries of North Africa.
Helichrysum is derived from the Greek words Helios which means “sun” and Chrysos which means “gold”.
It is known that flowers retain their color and shape even after drying. Its flowers grow in different types of colors, more commonly yellow, but also blue like the exemption. Its leaves are alternate and mostly flat.
Besides being a source of food for different species of insects, this plant has been tested and used in traditional medicine for applications that require antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiallergic properties.
Historical facts about Helichrysum Essential Oil
Formerly, the helichrysum was burned indoors to purify the air. Also, ancient Romans used helichrysum flowers to decorate the statues of the gods, especially Apollo, god of the sun.
The yellow coloration of this flower was always striking, so it was successfully proved its property that allows it to fix on fabrics. In fact, yellow coloring substance is present in both, bracts and flowers.
On the other hand, some farmers used it to cover the cheese and burn the pig’s bristles, at the same time they gave it a special flavor.
Active principles of Helichrysum Essential Oil
The main active principles that we can find in helichrysum oil are: phenolic compounds (flavonoids, floroglucinols and acetophenones), steroids and triterpenes.
Helichrysum contain a very small amount of essence. The yields obtained by distillation are low, in the order of 0.3-0.4%. The distillation time oscillates between 90 to 105 minutes, depending on the desiccation state of the plant. Its chemical composition can vary depending on the soil where it grows, the species, the weather and the time of collection.
The helichrysum oil contains a majority molecule, 35% approx. This is the neryl acetate, a terpene ester that characterizes its chemotype, and that is unusual in the rest of essential oils.
Another specific characteristic of this essential oil, is the presence of β-diketones or diones (Italidiones I, II, III) (15-20%), which is responsible for the most potent anti-hematoma activity, known in an essential oil until now.
Properties of Helichrysum Essential Oil
Many properties have been attributed to this oil, however, the following are the best known:
- Strengthens and regulates the nervous system
- Detoxifier (liver and spleen)
Benefits of Helichrysum Essential Oil
Relieves mucous congestion
It is indicated for help in the treatment of respiratory tract diseases and colds. Helichrysum oil has a mucolytic action, which fluidizes and eliminates the abundant secretions produced in these conditions. Therefore it also relieves cough, since the body no longer feels the need to force the cold out through constant coughing.
Reduces inflammation and soothes skin conditions
Blended with a carrier oil or some neutral cream, apply on the affected area to obtain its anti-inflammatory property. This acts on solar erythema, burns, eczema and psoriasis, to name a few.
Natural antiseptic and bactericidal
The chemically unidentified compound, called sandstone, is responsible for the antibacterial and antiseptic properties in helichrysum essential oil.
In addition, it can be used as a liquid disinfectant. In ophthalmology it is widely used in the preparation of eye drops for numerous conjunctival conditions.
Tonic for integral health
Although its effectiveness as a tonic has not been fully tested, helichrysum oil appears to be able to stimulate appetite, increasing gastric activity and inducing better bile release.
In addition, it regulates the lymph, blood circulation and stimulates the organs responsible for eliminating toxins such as the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys and spleen.
Excellent antibiotic and antifungal for skin
A review made by the University of Beira in Portugal, discovered that the flavonoids and terpene present in the helichrysum are effective against development of bacteria and fungi that can cause various skin irritations, including rashes, infections and poor healing.
Helichrysum oil is ideal for treating hives, irritation, spots and rashes. In eruptions caused by a toxic ivy, insect bites, contact with jellyfish, etc., apply a mixture of helichrysum essential oil and lavender oil, can be a great help to refresh and relieve any itching.
To attenuate scars, apply 2 drops of helichrysum essential oil in 2 drops of rosehip oil. Massage gently on the scar 2 times a day until your total recovery. Protect the scar from sun exposure.
Relieves sunburn and protects against skin cancer
Helichrysum oil moisturizes and relieves pain in skins that have suffered sunburns.
It can also reduce age signs on the skin and protect it from damage by UV rays, which can contribute to skin cancer when there is overexposure to them.
Mix a small amount of helichrysum essential oil with another small amount of aloe vera gel and apply it directly to the affected area, to relieve pain and help healthy skin renewal.
According to medical studies, helichrysum oil has powerful antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, which act on acne conditions without drying, inflaming or causing other unwanted side effects, as usually occurs with conventional pharmaceutical treatments, highly aggressive to our skin.
Natural remedy for candida
The acetophenones, floroglucinols and terpenoids contained in helichrysum essential oil, have shown in medical studies the antifungal actions on the development of candida.
In addition to accelerating the recovery process for candida virus, helichrysum oil also helps to relieve the digestive tract, fighting intestinal inflammation and improving the immune system.
Infallible treatment for bruises
Helichrysum oil is considered the best essential oil to treat bruises. To obtain its benefits, apply undiluted a couple of drops of helichrysum oil directly on the affected area. Repeat 3 to 5 times a day and massage until it is reabsorbed.
It can also be applied preventively, before any surgical intervention. Apply twice a day, starting a couple of days before the intervention.
For children or people with sensitive skin, dilute in a carrier before the application. St. John’s Wort oil (Hypericum oil) is an excellent alternative for better and fast results.
Helps improve heart health
According to a study conducted in 2008 by the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the University of Durban, the hypotensive action of helichrysum essential oil improves the condition of blood vessels, decreasing inflammation and blood pressure, and increasing smooth muscle function.
The cardiovascular effects observed during the use of helichrysum oil, fulfill the fundamental function for the control of hypertension and cardiac health, for which reason, it has been used for many years in traditional European medicine.
Stimulates digestive system
It helps stimulate the secretion of gastric juices needed to assimilate food and avoid indigestion.
Helichrysum oil has been used as a diuretic for thousands of years in traditional Turkish medicine, helping to reduce abdominal distension through the expulsion of excess water in the body. In addition, it relieves abdominal pain.
Stimulant and hepatic detoxifier
Known to be a spasmodic, blood purifier and anti-inflammatory; helichrysum has been used as a stimulant and hepatic detoxifier for centuries. It is normally applied in traditional medicine to treat liver diseases and help eliminate toxins, heavy metals, bacteria and all kinds of contaminants from the body.
Natural protector against cancer
The research published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, demonstrates the anticancer capacity of helichrysum essential oil.
This in vitro study reveals the anti-tumor actions of helichrysum plant extracts.
Anticancer capacity of helichrysum extracts in the cancer call lines was selective and dose-dependent, but this research is one of several studies that highlights the potential of helichrysum to be used in the natural fight against cancer.
Clinical research indicates that helichrysum oil has special antioxidant flavonoid compounds that inhibit oxidative stress and cancer growth.
In addition, studies found that its extract is an efficient protector against DNA damage induced by development of cancer tumors, radiation and by mutation and cell death.
Besides, its photoprotective action, especially in acetophenones and phloroglucinols, has been demonstrated in studies, in both, humans and animals.
Combats viruses and strengthens immune system
Since the vast majority of the immune system is actually located in the intestine, the healing and anti-inflammatory properties contained in helichrysum effectively help increase immunity.
In clinical studies, the flavonoids and phloroglucinol alpha-pyrone of helichrysum oil showed inhibition of harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, even powerful enough to fight herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), coxsackie virus B type 1, and decrease the risk of contracting the HIV virus.
The helichrysum flavonoid that obtains most of the scientific credit for fighting these viruses, and other harmful invaders, is called Galangin.
Relieves hemorrhoids naturally
To help reduce pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids, apply 3 to 4 drops of helichrysum oil with a cotton ball over the affected area. Repeat this process with intervals of few hours as many times as necessary to alleviate the discomfort.
Improves varicose veins
Helichrysum oil, is known to enhance circulation and reducing inflammation. It has the potential to minimize the appearance of varicose and spider veins.
Releases kidney stones
Helichrysum oil can reduce the risk of kidney stones by supporting and detoxifying kidneys and liver.
A preliminary study published in 2016 found that helichrysum essential oil can be useful in the treatment of kidney stones and can also be used as an alternative therapy to potassium citrate.
Another study conducted in Turkey, published a year earlier in 2015, concludes: “Helichrysum extracts may reduce the formation and growth of kidney stones in oxid-induced urolithiasis and may be beneficial for patients with recurrent stones”.
However, this is the first study on the preventive effect of helichrysum flowers.
Prevents multiple sclerosis naturally
Frankincense essential oils and helichrysum oil stimulate the nervous system and can help prevent and relieve multiple sclerosis symptoms.
Apply on the body two drops of each oil, twice a day, for three weeks. Stop doing it for a week and repeat the cycle. Also, basil and cypress oils can be helpful to optimize circulation, muscle tension, and reduce symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis. It is ideal to combine the use of these two oils to obtain better results.
Effective against all types of pain
Other research also indicates that helichrysum oil decreases muscle pain, reduces swelling, inflammation and improves circulation. Besides, it helps improve the healing of nervous system, joints and muscle tissue, making it an effective treatment for the painful symptoms caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, and injuries induced by exercise.
It can be used with lavender oil, which is excellent for reducing pain and emotional stress.
Uses of Helichrysum Essential Oil
The special component of helichrysum called beta-dione, is rare to find in nature and is connected to numerous healing properties helichrysum oil, both physical and spiritual.
Since ancient times, helichrysum essential oil has been used mainly as an expectorant and febrifuge. However, its most extraordinary virtue is in the treatments for asthma and acute and chronic bronchitis. This is because helichrysum oil blocks allergic processes of all kinds, such as food allergies, urticarial and solar erythema, among others.
Its antiallergic action, comes from the stimulation that this oil produces on the adrenal glands, which causes an increase in internal cortisone.
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It is also used against depression, lethargy, nervous exhaustion and stress-related disorders. Likewise, the presence of diketones, provides helichrysum with its regenerative and rejuvenating properties for skin, as well as accelerating wound healing.
Due to the muscle relaxant and spasmolytic properties of another of its biochemical components, neryl acetate, this oil complements the treatment of sports injuries, joint stiffness, neck pain or some type of painful muscular contraction.
With the biochemical effect of another component called curcumenum, helicrysum oil acts as an anti-septic agent. It is able to reduce inflammations even better than German chamomile oil, with which it is frequently blended in curative preparations.
On the other hand, due to the anti-coagulant effect, it is applied in medical treatments to lower cholesterol levels.
Besides, as an anti-oxidant, it helps dissipating free radicals, purifying the liver and eliminating metals from the body.
Additionally, it is used to strengthen the immune system and help in phases of discomfort against stomach spasms.
Other of its most common uses are to combat:
- Skin inflammation
- Indigestion and acid reflux
- Liver diseases
- Bladder disorders
- Inflammation of muscles and joints
- Stomach pains
Although most of its traditional uses have not been scientifically proven, research continues to develop and show that this oil can be useful to cure various conditions, without the need to use medications that could cause unwanted side effects.
Helichrysum oil can be applied topically in animals. This will be useful as anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, anti-hematoma and healing.
Ingredient for acne, rosacea and psoriasis treatments, anti-aging and skin regenerating creams, and shampoos for blonde hair.
Studies on the Helichrysum Essential Oil
In recent years, scientists have studied different pharmacological activities of helichrysum oil to discover more about its toxicity, drug interactions and safety.
Pharmacological experts predict that helichrysum oil will become an important tool for the treatment of various diseases.
How can helichrysum do so much for our body?
According to studies carried out so far, scientists believe that part of the reason lies in its antioxidant properties, especially acetophenones and phloroglucinols present in helichrysum oil.
Particularly, helichrysum plants are prolific producers of a large number of metabolites, including triterpenoid pyrones and sesquiterpenes; in addition to their flavonoids, acetophenones and phloroglucinols.
According to studies conducted by the biology department of the University of Bozok in Turkey, these are responsible for the remarkable antibiotic, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects of the plant extract, as well as its proliferative action and anticancer properties.
The proactive properties of helichrysum, are partly expressed as a corticoid-like steroid. This helps to relieve inflammation with its inhibitory action in different pathways of arachidonic acid metabolism.
Researchers from the pharmacy department of the University of Naples in Italy, also discovered that due to ethanolic compounds present in helichrysum flowers, antispasmodic actions occur within an inflamed digestive system, helping to reduce spasms, digestive pains and swelling.
Side effects of Helichrysum Essential Oil
Regarding its safety and adverse effects, helichrysum italicum does not present significant levels of allergic reactions or side effects (in the form of cytotoxicity or genotoxicity).
It is believed that helichrysum oil is well tolerated, since mild side effects have occurred only in rare cases, and where certain people experienced an allergic reaction to its components.
To detect any allergic reaction, it is always recommended to carry out a patch test before applying it with total confidence.
Consult your doctor before using the essential oil, (especially for oral consumption), if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or if there is a continuing health problem.
Do not use in children under 3 years old.
It is not recommended for people with blood clotting problems or under medical treatment with anticoagulants.
Where to buy Helichrysum Essential Oil?
Generally, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure, therapeutic grade and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.
If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, here are some online products recommendations:
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Tips for better performance and duration of your oils:
- Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
- Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
- Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.
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