Pain Relief from Essential Oils: Using Helichrysum
One of the most challenging aspects of finding a good pain reliever is that they so often have significant drawbacks: they can be bad for the liver, they're addictive, they only mask the pain temporarily, or they just don't make you feel good. Well here's a suggestion: for decades, the essential oil from a little yellow flower called Helichrysum italicum has been successfully used in Europe for profound pain relief. It's easy to use, safe, and readily available.
Aromatherapy isn't just about aromas! It's really about the branch of natural medicine dealing with the volatile extracts of plants, many of which are complex healing chemicals. And Helichrysum is fast becoming one of the most popular of these oils -- and not because of its aroma, but because of its fast pain relieving action.
Pain Relief for Everyone
The pure essential oil steam distilled from the flowers of the Helicrhysum italicum plant is really an absolutely remarkable healing agent. Not just compared to natural medicines, but compared to ALL pain relieving medicines available today. It is safe, effective, has no addiction potential and very easy-to-use. Pain relief reported by most users happens nearly instantly -- certainly within minutes of application.
The oil is listed in 'Essential Oil Safety' as non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. It is regularly prescribed for undiluted application to the skin (where very few other essential oils are). Most conservatively, the oil is sometimes said to be avoided during pregnancy, and by young children -- but this warning is not found in today's most advanced aromatherapy texts. The only other concern is of the oils helpful anticoagulant properties, and is sometimes contraindicated if one is taking blood thinning medication. The amounts absorbed for pain relief are exceptionally small. However, if your situation is questionable, check with a health professional before use, but know that the essential oil is considered to be exceptionally safe for the vast majority of the population.
A Look at the Chemistry: Why Helichrysum Works
Essential oils are evaluated using a process called Gas Chromatography. This test tells the us what the oil is made of -- and essential oils are really interesting: they're made of all KINDS of different natural chemicals. Within Helichrysum essential oil, one finds chemicals naturally made by the plant's flowers that 1) reduce inflammation and act as chelators (they can remove unwatned toxins), 2) prevent bruising and blood clots, 3) relax tight muscles and connective tissue, and 4) stimulate cellular regeneration. All in one oil! And it's these components that work together to offer pain relief -- in a big way. Aspirin, for example, is a blood thinner and anti-inflammate. Together, these actions produce its pain relief. Helichrysum is a far more complex natural substance, that not just masks pain, but actually addresses the cellular physiology that is causing it.
What Kind of Pain Can it Help?
What sorts of pain can be addressed using this essential oil? Helichrysum is topically applied, and as such works for virtually all pain in the muscular-skeletal system: Muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. All kinds of back pain and neck pain can be helped, as are traumatic injuries such as bruises, sprains and strains. Helichrysum is excellent to have around the house of sports enthusiasts -- one 42 year old hockey player in Boulder, Colorado refers to it as 'the magic oil' for all the beating-up he takes in the rink. Arthritis can be helped too (warming oils like Ginger and Black Pepper can be blended with it, if warming helps the condition).
It's safety and efficacy is really remarkable: nearly every form of pain seems to respond positively to Helichrysum essential oil application, whereas the oil has only one commonly-noted warning. As it acts as a blood thinner, those taking blood thinning medication should consult their physician before using, and the oil should never be applied to open wounds as to not interfere with coagulation.
How to Properly Use the Oil For Best Results
There are essentially two unique conditions which determine the way the essential oil is used: whether the injury or pain is Acute (just occurred) or Chronic (has been present for some time, and is not obviously healing). For acute cases, like one has JUST twisted an ankle, banged a knee, or burned themselves, Helichrysum is applied 'neat', or directly from the bottle at 100% strength. This gets the most amount of oil delivered to the area as quickly as possible. Once an injury is not getting worse, or the condition or pain has been present for some time, Helichrysum is often diluted to about 20% in an oil that acts as a 'massage' base. Helichrysum and this 'carrier' oil (Jojoba is commonly used) are then frequently massaged-in.
In most cases of chronic pain, diluting in another 'carrier' oil -- like Sweet Almond, Jojoba, or even Olive oil -- will 'extend' the Helichrysum, and can help improve its effects over a larger area. If using for the entire mid-back area for example, one can dilute one part Helichrysum into 5 or even 10 parts Jojoba oil and massage-in as frequently as necessary. Making our own formulation is very easy to do. It is recommended to start of with lower dilutions and work your way up only if necessary; this helps you conserve the precious oil by only using as much as required for the desired results. Forty drops of Helicrysum in each ounce of carrier oil will create an approximate 5 percent dilution; eighty drops for a 10 percent dilution; etc.
Making A Custom Recipe
There are many other essential oils that will add to the therapeutic action of your mixture, should you choose to make one. Ginger and Pepper are excellent choices if you'd like a warming action, helpful in many cases of arthritis -- these oils can bring more blood to the area, improving circulation and flexibility. Peppermint is also used for the same reason, but actually adds a bit of a cooling sensation.
German Chamomile or Blue Tansy at one or two percent concentrations can enhance the anti-inflammatory action. Some folks choose Wintergreen or Birch essential oils, as they are made up of methyl salicylate, or 'liquid aspirin'. Care should be used with these oils, however, as they are in a class of oils that are considered toxic if over-used; they should absolutely be kept out of reach of children, and employed only as much as necessary to give the desired effect.
Getting The Right Kind of Oil
The essential oil and its actions discussed here come from only one of the 500 or so Helichrysum species. When seeking the essential oil,
look specifically for one that says 'italicum' -- this is crucial! It is only this type that has the important natural blend of chemicals that impart the pain relieving and healing actions. Further, the oil can be a bit expensive. It may be helpful to consider it in relation to other pain relieving medications -- and consider that only drops are needed at a time.
If working on one's neck, for example, you can imagine that only a little liquid is needed to cover and support the painful spots. No need to use more than necessary; and dilute when appropriate, as this will also conserve the oil. Once you've experienced the effects, and get a hand of its use, you probably find the oil is one of nature's great gifts. Finally, do be sure to check with your doctor if you are under care for any condition before using Helichrysum essential oil -- let them know how you'll be using it, the amounts applied and how often. The safe use of this excellent essential oil will certainly produce the best results!