The essential oil distilled from the small yellow flowers of the Helichrysum plant is quickly becoming one of the most popular essential oils used in aroma-medicine (perhaps the more appropriate term than ‘aromatherapy’ for the growing medicinal use of volatile plant extracts in the United States). Other monikers for this important oil include Everlasting and Immortelle — they all refer specifically to Helichrysum italicum — one of more than 500 known species of this flowering plant. What’s making this oil so popular? It’s not due to its somewhat medicinal aroma — Rose or Jasmine it is not (though many people do love the scent). It has to do with its fantastic healing potential. The oil has an array of therapeutic effects, all supported by the science in its natural chemical makeup. Here’s a look at the marvel of healing found in the chemistry of this important essential oil.
Healing The Musculoskeletal System
To reduce pain and heal structural tissues at the same time, a synergy of active ingredients is necessary. That’s why aspirin and ibuprofen reduce pain, but don’t stimulate healing — they only address one part of the equation. Essential oils are naturally made up of many chemicals — one oil can have more than a hundred identifiable molecules. And because of their molecular structure, they’re very compatible with our physiology. When topically applied, they pass right through our skin and into the bloodstream and underlying tissues where they can quickly get to work.
Helichrysum has the properties of being anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and regenerative all in the same oil. The anti-inflammatory effects can be attributed to the “curcumenes” present in the oil. “Curcumenes” have recently been very prominent in the field of natural nutrition, as the extract of the spice turmeric, called “curcumin” has become popular as an anti-inflammatory supplement. The supplement is considered helpful not only for joint inflammation and pain, but as an all-around anti-aging supplement as well. Helichrysum contains a significant quantity of “gamma curcumene”, providing an excellent anti-inflammatory effect.
Helicrysum contains a significant amount of “neryl acetate”, a molecule from a larger group known as “esters”. These are the predominant relaxing molecules found in many essential oils. The relief of chronic muscle spasms has a two-fold action: one, release of the tension instantly brings pain relief and an increase in energy flow (anyone with neck muscles in this condition know how the mind can feel hazy as a result). Second, once this tension is relieved, circulation to the area is increased. This is crucial to the healing process, as it allows the flow of damaged material out of the area, and new healthy material in.
The third unique aspect of the essential oil is due to the regenerative nature of the “di-ketones” found almost exclusively in Helichrysum. The di-ketones are thought to signal tissues of the body to regenerate, and the oil is included in many formulas for wound healing and scar reduction. The di-ketone level is especially high in oils from plants grown and distilled around the Mediterranean, where levels of these di-ketones can exceed 11% of the total makeup of the essential oil.
Anti-Hematoma, Bruise Preventative
A wonderful effect for all us accident prone folks is the bruise prevention offered by the oil. Keeping a little of the oil on hand at all times is a smart way to keep ourselves relatively injury-free. An application or two of the oil on any part of the body that has received physical trauma can profoundly speed healing by preventing the formation of a hematoma, a bruised area where blood flow almost comes to a halt. For athletes twisting an ankle, for example, the oil can significantly reduce the swelling that occurs in the minutes after the injury, speeding healing by quickening the nutrient/waste exchange in the area. ANY blunt injury (walking into furniture in the middle of the night, or hitting your head on an open kitchen cabinet are but two common examples) will greatly benefit both in terms of healing time AND immediate pain reduction.
User Experiences Encourage Experimentation
Users have reported impressive results with the use of Helichrysum for all sorts of injuries. Many are astounded with the speed that they feel pain relief. Sports enthusiasts have dubbed the liquid “magic oil”; more sedate office workers are also very appreciative of the relief their aching backs receive. Those with a “crook” in their neck feel better in minutes. Because of the oil’s relatively recent arrival on the world-stage of natural healing — and its continued relative obscurity — it has not yet been the subject of scientific inquiry. Yet this shouldn’t prevent you from a little experimentation. A few milliliters is all you’ll need to see if the oil works for you.