Helichrysum Italicum, aka 'Imortelle' and 'Everlasting' - Aromatherapy's Healing Wonder
The essential oil of Helichrysum is relatively unknown in the United States, though interest in this natural healing phenomenon is growing, and with very good reason. Helichrysum is one of the most potent, dramatically healing essential oils used in medical aromatherapy today.
There are over five hundred species of the Helichrysum plant; many share the same characteristics of narrow pale green leaves and bright yellow flowers. It is only the Helichrysum 'italicum' species that produces the highly regarded 'Everlasting' or 'Immortelle' oil for aromatherapy. There is even a sub-species of this called 'serotinum' which is a little rarer - if seeking out the oil, check the Latin name.
Helichrysum has its origins in coastal Mediterranean regions, where the bulk of its farming and distilling continues to take place. The island of Corsica is renowned for exceptional grades of the essential oil, with correspondingly high prices. The oil's growing demand has sparked interest in essential oil distillers in the US, and outstanding certified organic varieties are now being produced domestically. These oils represent a great bargain, as their laboratory results show very high levels of molecular healing components, with lower prices than their European counterparts.
By now you're likely asking: "So what does it DO?" Ah, well, a great many things! Helichrysum italicum is a unique essential oil in its distinct synergy of molecular components. It is the only oil known to contain safe but powerful regenerative di-ketones. Its curcumene components have been studied for their anti-inflammatory action; further, the oil contains what are known as 'spasmolytic esters' which cause tissues to relax. Relaxing, anti-inflammatory and regenerative - a wonderful combination of a single therapeutic oil.
As Dr. Schnaubelt notes in Medical Aromatherapy: "The pain-reducing, analgesic, and the regenerative effects are unique...(the oil) works for all conditions in which inflamed tissue needs to be calmed down and regenerated." Its most common use is for healing skin, muscle and connective tissue. Helichrysum may be applied directly to cuts and scrapes, perhaps with a small amount of Tea Tree oil for additional antibacterial action. It has been recommended for surgical wounds, applied beginning seven days after a procedure. The continued application may significantly reduce scar formation, and can even combat old scars of various origins (we'll get to the recipes for this shortly!)
It is an excellent remedy to have available when sports and fitness enthusiasts young and old are at play. Helichrysum is used 'neat' (undiluted) on injuries such as bruises and twists that have just occurred to mitigate further damage from swelling and hematoma. If applied immediately, a bruise may not even appear; if application is delayed, the oil will still speed healing. Tendonitis may be addressed with a blend of 1% Helichrysum, 1% Lemon Eucalyptus and 1% Yarrow oils in a base of Comfrey cream applied regularly to the area.
Helichrysum is found in many recipes for healing and supporting skin health. It is found often as a primary component to reduce the appearance of acne and keloid scars: use 1 milliliter Helichrysum and 1 milliliter Rosemary c.t. Verbenone in each ounce of a 25/75 blend of Rosehip seed and Hazelnut oils. While older scars may take up to six months of application, the effects are said to be surprisingly dramatic. Stretch marks post-partum and after significant weight loss may also be reduced using the same blend.
Helichrysum essential oil is indicated for many other conditions, and should be discussed with your healthcare provider to see if it makes sense as an adjunct therapy. The oil may ease symptoms of neuralgia through its regenerative and analgesic properties - apply a 3% dilution of the oil in Hazelnut or Jojoba to tingling or painful areas. It may offer support for other physical conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis in a similar concentration, with added warming oils may be added for improved. Helichrysum acts as an anti-coagulant, and is supportive of the veins. It is considered effective for reducing tinnitus: a drop is placed on a cotton ball and put in the ear each night for two weeks - some recommend simply placing a drop on the pinky and massaging the ear canal. The antispasmodic and decongestive actions help with coughs, colds and asthma. It also can offer great support for stress related exhaustion and headaches.
On the more esoteric side, where aromatherapy also affects the psyche and emotions, according to Mojay's 'Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit': "Those (emotions) that are most indicated?are enduring resentment, half-conscious anger, the bitterness of spirit, and a stubbornly negative attitude." For many, there can be a direct link between these hardened emotions and physical manifestation of illness. Aromatherapy massage with Helichrysum may be extremely beneficial, as one receives the oil's aroma, its biological effects, and the healing touch of massage. Here, the oil may be used in a 1-3% dilution, alone or with other oils tailored to the person's needs.
With so many healing actions and extremely safe profile, no wonder it is considered by some to be one of aromatherapy's most healing oils!*