Helichrysum Essential Oil Benefits the Skin, Gut, Heart & More

July 11, 2018
Helichrysum essential oil - Dr. Axe

Helichrysum essential oil comes from 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, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties. (1)

Helichrysum essential oil, typically from the Helichrysum italicum plant, 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. (2)

Some sources 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.


What Is Helichrysum Essential Oil?

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. (3)

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 oil 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.


Traditional Helichrysum Essential Oil Benefits

Helichrysum oil comes the Helichrysum italicum plant, which is considered a medicinal plant with many promising pharmacological activities because it operates as a natural antibiotic, antifungal and antimicrobial. The helichrysum italicum plant is also commonly referred to by other names, such as curry plant, immortelle or Italian strawflower.

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: (4)

  • Allergies
  • Acne
  • Colds
  • Cough
  • Skin inflammation
  • Wound healing
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion and acid reflux
  • Liver diseases
  • Gallbladder disorders
  • Inflammation of the muscles and joints
  • Infections
  • Candida
  • Insomnia
  • Stomachaches
  • Bloating

Some websites also recommend helichrysum oil for tinnitus, but this use is not currently backed up by any scientific studies nor does it appear to be a traditional use. 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.

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.

Helichyrsum’s protective properties are expressed partly like a corticoid-like steroid, helping lower inflammation by inhibiting action in different pathways of arachidonic acid metabolism. 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 reduce the gut from swelling, cramping and digestive pain. (5)

 

Helichrysum essential oil - Dr. Axe

 


9 Helichrysum Essential Oil Benefits and Uses

  1. Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Skin Helper
  2. Acne Treatment
  3. Anti-Candida
  4. Anti-Inflammatory that Helps Boost Heart Health
  5. Natural Digestive and Diuretic
  6. Potential Natural Cancer Protector
  7. Antiviral that Increases Immunity
  8. Natural Hemorrhoid Soother
  9. Kidney Stone Reliever

1. Anti-inflammatory and Antimicrobial Skin Helper

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 dangerous bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus that can cause a range of health concerns from minor skin rashes to serious, life-threatening heart complications. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, people also like to use helichrysum essential oil for scars to discourage inflammation and encourage optimal healing. The oil also has anti-allergenic properties, making it a great natural remedy for hives. (6)

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 onto the area of concern for hives, redness, scars, 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. Acne Treatment

Another specific way to use helichrysum oil on your skin is as a natural acne remedy. According to medical studies, helichrysum has strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties that make it a great natural acne treatment. It also works without drying the skin or causing redness and other unwanted side effects (like the ones by harsh chemical acne treatments or medications). (7)

3. Anti-Candida 

According to in vitro studies, the special compounds in helichrysum oil — called acetophenones, phloroglucinols and terpenoids — appear to demonstrate antifungal actions against harmful Candida albicans growth. (8) Candida is a common type of yeast infection caused by Candida albicans. The infection can occur in the mouth, intestinal tract or vagina, and it may also affect skin and other mucous membranes. If you have candida symptoms, you definitely don’t want to ignore them.

4. 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. During the in vivo/in vitro animal study, the observed cardiovascular effects of using helichrysum oil support the basis for its possible 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. (9)

5. 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 has been used as a diuretic, helping 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.

Scientific research confirms the use of Helichrysum italicum as a natural remedy for digestive, stomachic and intestinal diseases. Animal research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology demonstrates helichrysum’s antispasmodic properties and hence its ability to aid intestinal complaints. (10)

An herbal tea made from dried helichrysum flowers is a great way to reap these digestive and gut-boosting benefits. You can also take helichrysum oil internally as long as it’s 100 percent pure and therapeutic-grade.

6. Potential Natural Cancer Protector

Research published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine demonstrates the anticancer ability of helichrysum. This in vitro study reveals the antitumor actions of extracts from the Helichrysum zivojinii plant. The anticancer ability of the helichrysum extracts on cancer call lines were selective and dose-dependent, but the research is one of several studies highlighting the potential for helichrysum to be used in the natural fight against cancer. (11)

7. 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 fight off herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and coxsackie B virus type 1. The helichrysum flavonoid that gets most of the scientific credit for fighting off these viruses and other harmful invaders is called galangin. (12, 13)

8. Natural Hemorrhoid Soother

To help reduce pain and swelling of hemorrhoids, apply three to four drops with a cotton ball to the affected area. Repeat every few hours as needed to ease pain, inflammation and swelling. You can add three drops of helichrysum oil along with three drops of lavender oil to a warm bath and soak in it to ease hemorrhoid symptoms. (14)

9. Kidney Stone Reliever

Helichrysum oil may reduce the risk of kidney stones by supporting and detoxifying the kidneys and liver. A preliminary study published in 2016 finds that helichrysum extracts may be useful in the treatment of kidney stones and can be used as an alternative therapy to potassium citrate. The flowers were also found to be helpful for urinary tract stones or urolithiasis. (15)

Another study out of Turkey published a year earlier in 2015 concludes, “Helichrysum extracts could reduce the formation and growth of kidney stones in Ox-induced urolithiasis and can be beneficial for patients with recurrent stones. In addition, this is the first study on the preventive effect of immortal flowers.” (16)

I recommend putting two drops of citrus oils like lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit in your water two times daily, and rub the helichrysum oil topically over lower abdomen two times daily.


Helichrysum Essential Oil 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 that is 100 percent pure, organic and therapeutic-grade.

Here is how to use helichrysum oil:

  • Apply several drops (2–4) of undiluted pure helichrysum essential 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
  • Add to water and take internally, but make sure it’s 100 percent pure, organic and therapeutic-grade ,and check with your doctor first if you are pregnant, nursing or have any ongoing health concerns.

Helichrysum oil can be used in dozens of different ways, but here are three simple recipes to get you started:

Sunburn Soother Recipe

Total Time: 20–30 minutes

Serves: 10

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 10 drops helichrysum essential oil
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • Glass jar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar.
  2. Place a saucepan with two inches of water on the stove over medium/low heat.
  3. Place the jar in the saucepan and stir contents until ingredients start to melt.
  4. 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

Serves: 30

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 20 drops helichrysum essential oil
  • 2 capsules of live probiotics

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients together and blend with a hand blender.
  2. 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

Serves: 30

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup coconut or jojoba oil
  • 10 drops helichrysum essential oil
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix all ingredients together and massage into painful areas.
  2. 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.

Check with your doctor before using essential oil, especially internally, if you are pregnant, nursing or have any ongoing health concerns.


Final Thoughts

  • Helichrysum essential oil typically comes from the Helichrysum italicum plant.
  • The oil has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  • Helichrysum has a laundry list of traditional uses, many of which are backed by scientific research — including its use for digestive complaints, heart health, viruses, inflammatory conditions like hemorrhoids and kidney stones.
  • You can also use helichrysum oil for scars, rashes, hives and skin irritations. It’s a great anti-inflammatory and antibacterial skin aid.
  • Always look for helichrysum essential oil that is 100 percent, organic and therapeutic-grade.

Read Next: Top 10 Tea Tree Oil Uses and Benefits


Josh Axe

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