Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) is a member of the flowering daisy family and is known to have powerful therapeutic properties. Its aliases include “the everlasting flower” and “Immortelle,” due to the fact that even after death, helichrysum retains its life-like appearance. Helichrysum’s everlasting properties extend from the flower to the oil and on to you because the oil is known for its regenerating and healing effects.
Helichrysum is a beautiful evergreen shrub, donning orb-shaped clusters of bright, golden-yellow blooms. It’s native to the Mediterranean and thrives in sandy, rocky soil. Most plants grow to about 2 ft tall and 3 ft wide. In addition to its radiant flowers, helichrysum boasts dusty gray leaves that can look like a slippery silver in the moonlight. The shrub is sometimes referred to as the Curry Plant, because of the strong curry smell of its leaves, however, curry seasoning is not harvested from helichrysum.
Helichrysum oil has a full-bodied, sweet, and earthy smell. Some have referred to the smell as resembling that of honey’s: sweet yet heavy. Different species of helichrysum produce different oils that create different aromas. Some helichrysum oils smell medicinal or tangy, and some smell earthy and spicy. Though they have different smells, all helichrysum oils have therapeutic benefits, and their smells promote calm, rejuvenation, and rebalance.
The word helichrysum comes from the Greek words for sun (helios) and gold (chrysos), referring to the plant’s orb-shaped clusters of bright, golden-yellow flowers. Ancient Greeks and Romans used wreaths made of the fade-resistant flowers to decorate their statues of gods.
Medicinally, helichrysum was mixed with honey to treat burns, wounds, and other skin conditions. It was also reportedly used for arthritic conditions, back and hip pain, joint inflammation, and even respiratory conditions.
Some species of helichrysum contain cannabinoids (CBG), and there’s evidence to suggest that the plant was burned in rituals perhaps for its “mind-altering” qualities. Helichrysum is the only plant other than cannabis to contain CBD.
Essential oils are made up of a multitude of naturally-occurring chemical components that contribute to the holistic benefits they wield. Different species of helichrysum contain different constituents, dependent on where the plant was grown, but the following are the most common and most studied chemical constituents:
- Nerol - antifungal (source)
- Cedrene - antimicrobial, antifungal, anticancer (source)
- Geranyl acetate - antifungal, anti-inflammatory (source)
- Curceme - antioxidant, anti-inflammatory (source)
- Pinene - anti-inflammatory and antianxiety (source) (source)
Helichrysum is an anti-inflammatory, and naturally works to reduce inflammation associated with muscle and joint pain. Historically, the plant has been used to provide muscle and joint relief to donkeys and horses. (source)
In addition, arzanol, which has been isolated from helichrysum species in the Mediterranean, is a well-known anti-inflammatory, and it’s been found to be an anti-cancer agent and inhibited HIV. (source) Just helichrysum’s odor is enough to reduce inflammation, but, for joint and pain relief, it’s best to dilute the oil in a carrier and apply topically to the affected area. (source)
Allergic reactions are caused by inflammation, so naturally helichrysum and its anti-inflammatory components help with allergies. (source) In addition, helichrysum was also found to inhibit contact dermatitis aka skin rashes, typically indicative of an allergic reaction. In addition to the naturally occurring azole, helichrysum also has flavinoids, terpenes, alkaloids, among others that were found to be extremely helpful in suppressing skin inflammation. (source)
Turns out that inhaling helichrysum oil can help prevent feelings of exhaustion and burnout. A small study found that when participants inhaled helichrysum, peppermint, and basil 3x a day for 3 weeks, they had less mental fatigue and burnout than the group that didn’t. (source)
Helichrysum is an antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial agent, making it a great aid come flu season. Its ability to fight off bacteria and viruses is one of helichrysum’s most studied benefits. Its been found to aid in the suppression of a myriad of ailments, ranging in severity from the common cold to staph infections, (source) though essential oils are found to work best in tandem with antibiotics.
Helichrysum is a natural skin protector and regenerator. Its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial components combine with its antioxidant properties to create a powerful tool for your skin. (source) It reduces swelling while actively fighting bacteria. In addition, its antioxidants fight free radicals, which contribute to cell death and age-related appearance changes to the skin. (source) Helichrysum helps cells regenerate into new, happy, and healthy cells.
It’s also been said that helichrysum can aid in reducing the appearance of scar tissue, though these claims are mostly anecdotal, it does make sense because of helichrysum’s antioxidants.
Throughout the centuries, helichrysum has been used to heal wounds, and there are studies that confirm that helichrysum helps heal wounds. (source) The oil has been found to inhibit tissue remodeling-related proteins, and it’s likely that its infection-fighting properties also contribute to its ability to heal wounds. (source) Helichrysum’s ability to fight off infections also helps protect the body from infections that might try to strike while the immune system is compromised. And its antimicrobial properties have been found to help fight off infections that may occur after a wound has healed. (source)
The antispasmodic properties that helichrysum boasts make it a perfect all-natural pepto-bismol. In a study done using helichrysum tea, researchers found that it helped with the subjects’ inflamed gut. (source) It has been suggested that the inhalation of the aroma and/or the use of the oil topically can also aid in digestion, though there’s no scientific research to back up such claims.
Helichrysum has been found time and time again to inhibit the growth of fungi, specifically Candida. (source) Candida is a type of fungus known to cause yeast infections, oral thrush, and athlete’s foot. Helichrysum is a natural suppressor of the Candida fungus, and a treatment that you might want to consider incorporating into your treatment should you ever acquire Candida.
Helichrysum is a delight to herbalists and perfumers alike. Used historically as a treatment for wounds as well as decoration for statues, helichrysum’s beauty and benefits have been honored for centuries. Its scent can be sweet and heavy, or medicinal and earthy, but regardless of how it smells, inhaling it can help rejuvenate and revive you. If you’re interested in seeing helichrysum’s benefits for yourself, check out Immortelle, our helichrysum blend.