Aug 20

Helichrysum – An Underused Gem

By Jonathan Hinde at Oshadhi Essential Oils, with exerts from Oshadhi founder Malte Hozzel

Helichrysum italicum (Immortelle, Everlasting) is one of those oils that far too few people seem to know about. It’s not exactly a secret, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, it doesn’t seem to appear on many of the standard ‘lists’ for students. True, it is a little on the costly side, yet its uses are widespread, the benefits can be really dramatic, and it is safe and simple to use. Its sweet floral notes blend with many different oils, and it becomes even more effective when blended synergistically.

The Plant

There are over 500 species of Helichrysum but many do not produce an essential oil. The species most frequently used in aromatherapy is H. angustifolium or italicum, a small aromatic shrub native to Corsica and the Balkans, which produces golden ‘sun-like’ yellow flowers (from helios ‘sun’, and chrysos ‘gold’) and it is from these flowering tops that the essential oil is derived through steam distillation.

Family: Asteraceae

Botanical name:

Helichrysum italicum (aka H. angustifolium)

Common names:

Everlasting, Immortelle

Part used: Flowering tops

Notes: Middle / Base

Therapeutic uses

The most important actions of the oil are its anti-inflammatory and blood purifying effects. It is renowned for use on the skin for a variety of conditions (anything from scars, skin conditions, sebaceous cysts) and is particularly indicated for bruising, and healing and normalising skin tissue. Acupuncturists use it, putting a dab on the skin as the needle is withdrawn to prevent bruising. Helichrysum also has powerful emotional healing value. There is something enormously comforting about the oil, which seems to generate a feeling that ‘all is well with the world’. Try using it in cases of shock, grief and emotional bruising.

Chemical components

Amongst other compounds the oil contains alpha-pinene, italidiones, a high percentage of neryl acetate, and also gamma-curcumene and various other sesqueterpenes and sesqueterpenols as well as coumarins and acids.

Typical chemical composition
neryl acetate (33%), alpha terpineol + gamma curcumene (12%), neryl isobutyrate + italidione (11%), limonene (6%), neryl propionate (5%), alpha pinene (3%), nerol (3%) …

Method of use and safety
H. angustifolium is a very safe oil, being non-toxic, non-irritant, and non- sensitising. It can be administered even without dilution via massage, compress, bath and inhalation. Under supervision it can be taken orally in small doses as a liver stimulant or as a ‘rescue drop’ in case of psychological shock.

Other species which give essential oils are H. stoechas (Spain, Portugal), H. gymnocephalum (Madagascar), H. bractiferum (Madagascar), and H. splendidum (South Africa).

Helichrysum italicum grows wild The price of this oil has gone up about threefold in the past 10 years. One reason for this is that a well-known skincare brand became aware of the massive benefits that this oil gives. The best oil comes from Corsica.

camomile, sandalwood, neroli, rose, frankincense, petitgrain, clary sage, cedarwood, myrrh

An experience with Helichrysum

An experience with Helichrysum by a student of Malte Hozzel’s

I wanted to write you a note of infinite thanks. Remember all that talking we did about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Helichrysum? One of the drawbacks of being psychically sensitive and having PTSD is that no action in the physical world is required to precipitate a PTSD incident for me. Just being around violent thoughts or things that have been touched when someone is thinking violent thoughts can have this effect on me. I had such an incident last week and it was an intense one. It lasted for days, continuously intensifying. Even though I was conscious enough about it to try to control my thoughts, I was failing… and failing utterly. Finally, days into the incident, I remembered our conversation and decided to go for the ‘big guns’ and diffuse Helichrysum. It was perfect. For the next half hour I could feel days of pent-up stress draining out of my body with each breath. The effects were incredibly dramatic. Soon after, I was able to get my spiritual perspective back and see the truth about the source of my stress and then, finally, the source of myself again. The whole renewal took about 45 minutes with incremental, noticeable improvements every moment. Quite miraculous, really!

Excerpts from founder of Oshadhi, Malte Hozzel, on Helichrysum

The subtle floral notes of this precious and rare oil have nothing comparable in aromatherapy. Helichrysum or ‘Everlasting’ excels as a blood purifier and is without doubt the strongest anti- congestive agent so far found in nature. It works wonders, particularly in cases of blood congestion such as bruising, and also congestion of the liver and spleen. Helichrysum enhances arterial circulation and helps against certain bacterial infections. It is indicated for arthritis, polyarthritis and rheumatism. It is excellent as a skin purifier with additional regenerative, wound-healing, and anti- inflammatory properties. Helichrysum’s high amounts of special compounds, called ‘beta-diones’, rarely found in nature, are supposed to be linked to its special healing properties, physically as well as spiritually. The oil is often used against depression, lethargy, nervous exhaustion, and stress- related disorders. Helichrysum has a tendency to ‘make things fluid’ with its nature of high vibrational energy, so we can see it as the ‘super-liquid’ floral liberator of physical as well as psycho- spiritual blocks and clots or old ‘scars’ that obstruct the flow of our subtle self-healing energies: A magical rod for body and soul, balm on the bruises of unhealed wounds.

Helichrysum is a plant-family of more than 600 species found in geographical regions of Eurasia, Africa, Madagascar and Australasia. It belongs to the sunflower-family (Asteraceae), and its most important and popular representative is Helichrysum italicum, commonly also known under the name ‘Immortelle’ or ‘Everlast’. This species is native to the Mediterranean area and widely distributed in countries like Italy, Spain, France, and countries of North-Africa. As a result of its considerable healing properties, it enjoys a special place within ancient knowledge of herbal medicine as well as modern aromatherapy.

The name ‘Helichrysum’ is derived from Greek, meaning ‘Gold of the Sun’, alluding to the brilliant and colourful radiance of its small button-like flowers which may range from yellow to red, and emanate a warm, hay-like scent. Helichrysum prefers a natural habitat of rocky areas and will not grow in tropical or subtropical climate. The plant is a perennial shrub which rises to a height of 60-90 cm, and likes to grow on dry, sandy soil. Helichrysum has been widely used in classical and indigenous cultures not only for its medicinal and cosmetic application but also for ornamental, culinary and spiritual purposes. Its evergreen aromatic leaves are still cooked and eaten, and its open flowers, cut young and dried, due to their capacity of preserving color and shape, embellish ceremonial festivities. Extracted from the plant by steam-distillation, the essential oil varies from pale yellow to yellow reddish in color, and is distinguished by its peculiar and fruity fragrance of honey-like sweetness. Helichrysum is threatened by habitat loss and is in need of conservation.

Traditional herbal formulas attribute a number of extraordinary healing properties to Helichrysum. Studies show that it speeds wound-healing with minimal scarring by nature of the di-ketones it contains. It is also more effective than Lavender for tissue-regeneration. The plant is used to improve all manner of skin-conditions, reduces healing time, and prevents excessive swelling. As a result of Helichrysum’s ability to stimulate cell production it enjoys a well-deserved reputation in the field of skin care and anti-ageing.

By nature of the muscle-relaxant, spasmolytic properties of the neryl-acetate the plant supports treatments of sport injuries like stiff joints, neck pain or any sort of painful muscle-contraction. Due to the biochemical effects of the curcumene, Helichrysum as an antiseptic agent reduces inflammation even better than German Chamomille.

As an anti-coagulant, the plant is used against high cholesterol levels due to its blood-thinning properties. As an anti-oxidant it helps dissipate free radicals, detoxifying the liver and removing metals from the human body. It boosts the immune-system and helps in phases of peptic discomfort against stomach spasm by means of its choleretic qualities. On the psychological level Helichrysum stimulates the right side of the brain supporting the development of intuition and creativity and contributing to the relaxing and healing dynamics of deeply rooted emotional stress like anger and resentment.

— Dr Malte Hozzel, Founder of Oshadhi