What is Helichrysum Essential Oil?
Helichrysum is a natural medicinal plant that’s used to make a beneficial essential oil that boasts many different full-body benefits due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Helichrysum essential oil, in the form of helichrysum italicum extract, has been established in various experimental studies to have strong abilities to lower inflammation due to several mechanisms: inflammatory enzyme inhibition, free radical scavenging activity and corticoid-like effects. (1)
Helichrysum is a member of the Asteraceae plant family and is native to the Mediterranean region, where it’s been used for its medicinal properties for thousands of years, especially in countries like Italy, Spain, Turkey, Portugal, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. (2)
Some sources even report that Helichrysum flowers were dried and offered to the Greek Gods. Today, it continues to play an important role in the traditional medicine of Mediterranean countries, although its popularity is also spreading around the rest of the world quickly.
In order to validate some of the traditional uses of Helichrysum italicum extract and to highlight its other potential applications, numerous several scientific studies have been conducted in the last several decades. The focus of many studies has been to identify just how helichrysum italicum acts as a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent.
Modern science now confirms what traditional populations have known for centuries: Helichrysum essential oil contains special properties that make it an antioxidant, an antibacterial, an antifungal and an anti-inflammatory! As such, it can be used in dozens of different ways to boost health and ward off disease. Some of its most popular uses are for treating wounds, infections, digestive problems, supporting the nervous system and heart health, and healing respiratory conditions.
Helichrysum Essential Oil Benefits
Helichrysum italicum is considered a medicinal plant with many promising pharmacological activities because it operates as a natural antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial. There are actually over 600 different species of helichrysum italicum, and it’s commonly referred to by other names, such as Everlasting, Immortelle or the Curry Plant.
In traditional Mediterranean medicine practices that have been using helichrysum oil for centuries, its flowers and leaves are the most useful parts of the plant. They are prepared in different ways to treat conditions including: (3)
- Skin inflammation
- Wound healing
- Indigestion and Acid Reflux
- Liver diseases
- Gallbladder disorders
- Inflammation of the muscles and joints
While most of its traditionally claimed applications are not yet scientifically proven, research continues to develop and shows promise that this oil will be useful for healing many different conditions without the need for medications that can cause unwanted side effects.
13 Helichrysum Essential Oil Uses
1. Skin Antibiotic and Antifungal
A review done by the Health Sciences Research Centre at the University of Beira in Portugal found that helichrysum’s flavonoids and terpene compounds were effective against bacteria and fungus growth that can cause various skin irritations, including rashes, infections and delayed wound healing. (4)
To use helichrysum essential oil for soothing and healing the skin, combine with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil and rub the mixture onto the face to prevent hives, redness, blemishes, rashes and shaving irritation. If you have a rash or poison ivy, applying helichrysum mixed with lavender oil can help cool and soothe any itching.
2. Sunburn Relief and Skin Cancer Protector
Helichrysum can help hydrate burnt skin and relieve the pain following sunburns. It can also decrease signs of aging on the skin and block UV-light damage that can contribute to the formation of skin cancer. You can mix a small amount of the oil with a bit of coconut oil and apply it directly to the affected area to relieve pain and support healthy skin renewal.
3. Acne Treatment
According to medical studies, helichrysum oil has strong antibiotic and antimicrobial properties that make it a great natural cure for acne, for it works without drying the skin or causing redness and other unwanted side effects (like the ones by harsh chemical acne treatments or medications).
4. Natural Candida Cure
Helichrysum also helps soothe the digestive tract, battle inflammation within the gut lining, boost immunity, and speed up the process of recovering from the Candida virus.
5. Anti-Inflammatory That Helps Boost Heart Health
The hypotensive action of helichrysum improves the condition of blood vessels by lowering inflammation, increasing smooth muscle function and lowering high blood pressure, according to a 2008 study done by the School of Medical Sciences at the University of Durban. The observed cardiovascular effects of using helichrysum oil support the basis for its use in the management of high blood pressure and the protection of heart health — just like it’s been traditionally used for many years in European folkloric medicine. (6)
6. Natural Digestive and Diuretic
Helichrysum helps stimulate the secretion of gastric juices that are needed to break down food and prevent indigestion. For thousands of years in Turkish folk medicine, the oil was used as a diuretic, helping to reduce bloating by drawing excess water out of the body, and for relieving stomachaches.
The flowers of Helichrysum italicum are also a traditional remedy for the treatment of various intestinal complaints and are used as an herbal tea for curing digestive, stomach-related, damaged gut and intestinal diseases.
7. Liver Stimulator and Detoxifier
Known to be an antispasmodic, blood purifier and anti-inflammatory, helichrysum has been used as a liver stimulant and detoxifier for centuries. It’s commonly used in folk medicine to treat liver disease and to help the body detoxify from toxins, heavy metals, bacteria and air pollution.
8. Natural Cancer Protector
Clinical research indicates that helichrysum contains special flavonoid antioxidant compounds that inhibit oxidative stress and cancer growth. In addition, studies found the extract to be effective at protecting against radiation-induced DNA damage, cell mutation and death, and cancerous tumor growth. Its photoprotective activities, especially due to acetophenones and phloroglucinol compounds, have been demonstrated both in animals and humans studies. (7)
9. Antiviral That Increases Immunity
Since a large portion of the immune system is actually located within the gut, the gut-healing and anti-inflammatory properties of helichrysum help it effectively boost immunity. In clinical studies, the flavonoids and phloroglucinols of helichrysum oil showed inhibition of harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses, even powerful enough to help decrease the risk of contracting the HIV virus.
10. Natural Hemorroid Soother
To help reduce pain and swelling of hemorrhoids, apply 3-4 drops with a cotton ball to the affected area. Repeat every few hours as needed to ease pain, inflammation and swelling.
11. Kidney Stone Reliever
Lemon and helichrysum oils may reduce the risk of kidney stones by supporting and detoxifying the kidneys and liver. Put two drops of citrus oils like lemon, lime, wild orange or grapefruit in your water two times daily. With helichrysum oil, rub topically over lower abdomen two times daily.
12. Natural Multiple Sclerosis Preventer
Essential oils of frankincense and helichrysum support the neurological system and can help ward off or alleviate the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Rub two drops of each oil on the body three times a day for three weeks, then take one week off and repeat that cycle. Also, basil and cypress oils can improve circulation and muscle tone and can help reduce MS symptoms, so consider combining these oils together for maximum results.
13. Pain Reliever
Research also indicates that helichrysum oil decreases muscle pain by lowering swelling, inflammation and improving circulation. This helps support the healing of nerves, joints and muscle tissue — making it an effective natural treatment for pain-related symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia and exercise-related injuries. You can use it along with lavender oil, which is also excellent to reduce pain and emotional stress.
Helichrysum Research, Unique Compounds and Studies
In recent years, researchers have actively been studying the different pharmacological activities of Helichrysum italicum extract to discover more about the science behind its traditional uses, toxicity, drug interactions and safety. As more information is uncovered, pharmacological experts predict that helichyrsum will become an important tool in the treatment of several diseases.
How exactly does helicrysum do so much for the human body? According to studies done so far, scientists believe that part of the reason is the strong antioxidant properties — especially in the form of acetophenones and phloroglucinols — present within helichrysum oil.
In particular, helichrysum plants of the Asteraceae family are prolific producers of a host of different metabolites, including pyrones, triterpenoids and sesquiterpenes in addition to its flavonoids, acetophenones and phloroglucinol. According to studies done by the Department of Biology at the University of Bozok in Turkey, these are responsible for the remarkable antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory effects of the plant’s extracts, in addition to its anti-proliferative activity and anticancer properties.
Helichyrsum’s protective properties are expressed partly like a corticoid-like steroid, helping to lower inflammation by inhibiting action in different pathways of arachidonic acid metabolism. (8) Researchers from the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Naples in Italy also found that due to ethanolic compounds present in the extract of helichrysum flowers, it elicits antispasmodic actions inside of an inflamed digestive system, helping to reduce the gut from swelling, cramping and digestive pain. (9)
Helichrysum Oil: DIY Recipes
Helichrysum oil is described as having a sweet and fruity smell, with honey or nectar overtones. Many people find the smell to be warming, uplifting and comforting — and since the aroma has a grounding quality, it even assists in releasing emotional blocks.
Helichrysum isn’t known to be the prettiest looking flower (it’s a yellowish strawflower that retains its shape when dried), but its myriad uses and subtle, “summery smell” make it a popular essential oil for applying right to the skin, inhaling or diffusing.
Remember, it’s always best to buy a high-quality product and to check that the active ingredient is pure and preferably organic. Also, only use therapeutic grade essential oils. You can know that the source you’re buying is high quality by checking that the genus species to be labeled Helichrysum italicum.
This oil is sometimes extremely hard to find in therapeutic quality because the plant is very sensitive to climate and soil composition, so always look for a trusted brand.
Here is how to use helichrysum oil:
- Apply several drops (2-4) of undiluted oil directly on the skin to the affected area or desired location
- Directly inhale the oil
- Diffuse it in your home
- Add it to a bath
- Or find it in dietary supplement form
- It’s not recommended, however, to ingest the oil, so plan to use it topically instead
Helichrysum oil can be used in dozens of different ways, but here are 3 simple recipes to get you started:
Sunburn Soother Recipe
Total Time: 20-30 minutes
- 10 drops frankincense essential oil
- 10 drops helichrysum essential oil
- 3/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons shea butter
- Glass jar
- Combine all ingredients in a jar.
- Place a saucepan with two inches of water on the stove over medium/low heat.
- Place the jar in the saucepan and stir contents until ingredients start to melt.
- Once all ingredients are combined, spread on the body and then store in a cool place for later.
Homemade Honey Face Wash for Clear Skin
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 20 drops helichrysum essential oil
- 2 capsules of live probiotics
- Mix all ingredients together and blend with a hand blender.
- Pour into a convenient bottle and store in cool place.
Anti-Inflammatory Pain Reliever Rub (Such as for Fibromyalgia or Arthritis)
Total Time: 2 minutes
- 1/2 cup coconut or jojoba oil
- 10 drops helichrysum essential oil
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- Mix all ingredients together and massage into painful areas.
- Pour into a convenient bottle and store in cool place.
Helichrysum Oil Side Effects
When it comes to its safety and adverse effects, helichrysum italicum does not display significant levels of allergic reactions or side effects (in the form of cytotoxicity or genotoxicity). It’s believed to be well tolerated and mild side effects have occurred only in rare cases, where certain people experienced an allergic reaction to its extracts. To test for any reactions, always try using a small amount of any essential oil on a patch of skin before applying it elsewhere.
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If you feel like you could use some more in depth information on essential oils, Dr. Josh Axe is hosting a free webinar going over, in great detail, uses and tips for using essential oils. Click below to learn more.