Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum essential oil is derived from the Helichrysum italicum plant, commonly referred to as the ‘Curry plant’ due to its distinct aroma. This yellow-blooming flower was first cultivated around the dry, rocky regions of the Mediterranean and North African coast, and is related to sunflowers and daisies.1
Used as a traditional garnish and spice in Mediterranean meat dishes, Helichrysum tastes similar to sage but with a slightly more bitter taste. Its fragrant nature has made it an ingredient in perfumes, potpourris and decorative wreaths.2
Helichrysum essential oil is derived from the blossoms of the plant through a process of steam distillation. A traditional remedy for swelling, the common cold, burnt or chapped skin, today helichrysum essential oil is used in aromatherapy, as an antiseptic and antibacterial topical ointment.
The oil itself is generally clear and highly aromatic. Its sweet, floral aroma has a distinct summer-time quality which makes it popular for use in aromatherapy.
Helichrysum Essential Oil Uses
Helichrysum essential oil is a natural, low impact alternative to pharmaceutical skin care and topical pain relief products. The essential oil is also used in aromatherapy to help treat a variety of ailments.
This essential oil has traditionally been used to soothe a range of skin conditions, from acne treatment to itchy rash relief. For an all-natural skin care routine, apply 1-2 dropslichrysum essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of jojoba or grapeseed carrier oil.
For acne-prone skin, add 2-3 drops of helichrysum essential oil to 1 Tsp. of carrier oil. Apply the mixture as a spot treatment to affected areas. The antiseptic properties of the oil will help sooth the skin and possibly speed up the healing process without the harsh dehydrating side effects of alcohol based pharmaceuticals.
Add 2-4 drops of helichrysum essential oil to a diffuser or nebulizer filled with water. Let the aroma fill the room for up to 30 minutes.
Traditionally, helichrysum vapor was used to alleviate cold and flu symptoms including headaches, sore throat, coughing, fever and congestion.
For a natural decongestant, boil 2-3 cups of water until steaming. Transfer to a bowl and add 5-10 drops of helichrysum essential oil. To inhale the vapor, lean over the bowl and place a towel over your head to help capture the steam. Inhale for several minutes at a time, taking breaks as necessary. Repeat up to three times.
Helichrysum essential oil has a long history as being a therapeutic aid for swollen muscles, inflamed joints, and pain caused by arthritis. For a natural, therapeutic massage add 3-5 drops of helichrysum essential oil to 2 Tbsp. of carrier oil. Rub the solution onto the afflicted muscles for soothing relief.
Known for its sweet, floral scent, helichrysum essential oil can be used to create a natural air freshener. Fill a spray bottle with water and 20-30 drops of helichrysum essential oil. Gently shake to mix together before use. Spray the solution towards the ceiling, avoiding furniture.
Helichrysum essential oil has been used on cuts, scrapes, bruises, swelling, infections, and rashes as a way to prevent infections and speed up healing. Modern clinical studies have begun to back up these traditional claims. For a natural wound healer, add 3-4 drops of helichrysum essential oil to 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, such as coconut, olive or jojoba. Apply the mixture to the affected area.
The aromatherapy benefits of helichrysum essential oil can also be obtained via a therapeutic bath. Add 5-10 drops to a hot bath to help relieve stress, cold and flu symptoms.
Long before we understood the importance of sunscreen, helichrysum essential oil and aloe were used as a soothing, sunburn remedy. To create your own sunburn remedy, mix 1 Tsp. of aloe vera with 3 drops of helichrysum essential oil in a small bowl. Apply to the gel to the sunburnt area and lightly massage into the skin.
Helichrysum Essential Oil Benefits
In the past decade, helichrysum essential oil has been the focus of a number of scientific studies. Preliminary findings have suggested this essential oil has several notable, therapeutic properties and a range of potential applications.
Several studies conducted on helichrysum essential oil have noted its antibacterial properties. In a recent clinical study, helichrysum essential oil was shown to significantly hinder Staphylococcus growth by as much as 75% in laboratory conditions. Researchers noted that while helichrysum essential oil may be particularly useful in combating drug-resistant staphylococcus infections, it can be made more effective when combined with other antibacterial treatments, such as cold nitrogen plasma.1,3
Promote Wound Healing
Application of helichrysum essential oil has been shown to promote proper healing of broken and wounded skin and reduce the development of scar tissue. A preliminary study conducted in 2014 tested both aromatherapy and topical application of helichrysum essential oil on patients recovering from cosmetic surgeries.4
The data collected suggested that visible scarring was reduced by as much as 50% in some patients when the oil was applied topically (1-2 drops) on a daily basis during the study.4
In a 2008 study, helichrysum essential oil was noted to help reduce hypertension in both in vivo and in vitro testing. When administered to animal subjects, helichrysum essential oil acted as a vasorelaxant, stimulating smooth muscle function and lowering blood pressure once absorbed into the bloodstream.6
Note: While helichrysum essential oil shows potential as an complementary method for high blood pressure management, further research is required to determine its effect on humans.6 Never consume helichrysum essential oil, unless under the direct supervision of a health care provider.
Helichrysum essential oil has shown antioxidant properties in both animal and human in vitro studies. Specific metabolites that make up the essential oil, such as flavonoids, acetophenones, phloroglucinol, pyrones, triterpenoids and sesquiterpene can potentially attach to cancerous cells and inhibit their growth.7
These same compounds have also been shown to slow cell damage caused by radiation (a common cancer treatment). While these building blocks of helichrysum essential oil demonstrate antioxidant properties, the overall effectiveness of helichrysum essential oil extract still needs to be studied.7
Side Effects of Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum essential oil is considered a safe substance for inhalation and diluted, topical use. Do not apply helichrysum essential oil directly to the skin, always dilute before topical application.
Helichrysum is a known allergen, and is not recommended for use on small children. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid the use of helichrysum essential oil.
Helichrysum essential oil is highly concentrated, and can be harmful is swallowed. Do not ingest helichrysum essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care provider. Always be sure to read and follow the label directions.
Where to Buy Helichrysum Essential Oil
Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Nostro, A., Bisignano, G., Angela Cannatelli, M., Crisafi, G., Paola Germanò, M., & Alonzo, V. (2001). Effects of helichrysum italicum extract on growth and enzymatic activity of staphylococcus aureus. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 17(6), 517-520. doi:10.1016/S0924-8579(01)00336-3. Retrieved March 02, 2016 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924857901003363
- University of Illinois at Chicago Heritage Garden. (2014, October 24). Curry Plant (Helichrysum Italicum). Retrieved March 01, 2017, from http://heritagegarden.uic.edu/new-page-3/
- Cui, H., Li, W., Li, C., & Lin, L. (2016). Synergistic effect between helichrysum italicum essential oil and cold nitrogen plasma against staphylococcus aureus biofilms on different food‐contact surfaces. International Journal of Food Science & Technology, 51(11), 2493-2501. doi:10.1111/ijfs.13231. Retrieved March 01, 2016 from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijfs.13231/abstract
- Voinchet, V., & Giraud-Robert, A. M. (2007). Use of helichrysum essential oil and musk rose oil after reconstructive or cosmetic surgery. Phytotherapie, 5(2), 67. doi:10.1007/s10298-007-0213-y. Retrieved March 02, 2017 from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10298-007-0213-y
- Antunes Viegas, D., Palmeira-de-Oliveira, A., Salgueiro, L., Martinez-de-Oliveira, J., & Palmeira-de-Oliveira, R. (2014). Helichrysum italicum: From traditional use to scientific data. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 151(1), 54-65. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.005. Retrieved March 02, 2017 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S037887411300799X
- Musabayane, C. T., Kamadyaapa, D. R., Gondwe, M., Moodley, K., & Ojewole, J. A. O. (2008). Cardiovascular effects of helichrysum ceres S moore [asteraceae] ethanolic leaf extract in some experimental animal paradigms. Cardiovascular Journal of Africa, 19(5), 246. Retrieved March 02, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3971623/
- Eroğlu, H. E., Aksoy, A., Hamzaoğlu, E., Budak, Ü., & Albayrak, S. (2009). Cytogenetic effects of nine helichrysum taxa in human lymphocytes culture. Cytotechnology, 59(1), 65-72. doi:10.1007/s10616-009-9193-0. Retrieved from March 02 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677150/?tool=pmcentrez