Sunday, May 22, 2016
HELICHRYSUM: Helichrysum italicum, Helichrysum augustifolium, Helichrysum gymnocephalum, Helichrysum chasmolycicum, Helichrysum pallasii, Helichrysum armenium, etc.
Also known as: Immortalle, Everlasting, Italian Strawflower
Parts Used: flowers
Systems/Organs affected: skin, muscles, structural, auditory, olfactory, circulatory, lymphatic, endocrine, nervous
Properties: emollient, antibacterial, anti-fungal, analgesic, respiratory, nervine, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, stimulant, alterative, anti-spasmodic, anti-allergenic, antiviral, anti-catarrhal, expectorant, emmenogogue, cytophylactic, vulnerary, cholagogue, diuretic, astringent, nutritive tonic, anti-hematomal, anti-tussive, febrifuge, hepatic, splenic, detoxifying
Helichrysum is a member of the Compositae (Sunflower) family. It has golden yellow. ball-shaped flower heads that emit a sweet fragrance that might remind one of honey, It has hairy, silvery leaves and grows like a small shrub. There are both annual and perennial varieties. (The look of it kind of reminds one of tansy). Native to Australia and Africa, it will grow in almost any hot, dry climate that has plenty of sunshine. As it is very dry naturally, it often takes far more plants to produce an oil than that of other herbs which is one of the reasons the oil is so expensive, roughly $120-200.00 for just 1/2 ounce. Helichrysum essential oil is distilled from the flowers and more often than not is done using multiple species of helichrysum rather than just one. There are about 600 species of this plant and it now can be found in Spain, Italy and France as both a wild and cultivated crop. The helichrysum most often used medicinally is the Italicum variety, although any of them will do. Just be sure it is 100% helichrysum and has at least 25% or more concentration of neryl acetate.
Helichrysum comes from the Greek words 'helisso' and 'chrysos', which means 'to turn around' and 'gold' respectively. (This is one oil that could very well be liquid gold due to tis sheer medicinal uses). In ancient times the plants were dried and then offered at the altars of the Greek gods. It was prized as a dried plant as the flowers would retain their golden hue even when dried. Early physicians used the plant for liver and skin disorders, respiratory complaints (bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, etc.), headaches and more. The early European practitioners used it for inflammatory conditions and bacterial infections.
More recent studies have found that helichrysum is full of 'diketones', items which stimulate new skin growth and help to reduce scar tissue. In Flavour and Fragrance Journal (Jan/Feb 2001, Vol 16, Issue 1:30-34) an article entitled, Composition of Helichrysum Italicum found that the oil of this amazing plant has an exceptional amount of diketones. This is no doubt one of the reasons why this species is also referred to as Immortelle or Everlasting.
Another study in 2002 had even more promising results. This study discovered that the oil had powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. As such it has been hailed as an 'anti aging' miracle. (J. Pharm. 2002 Mar., 54(3):365-371)
Helichrysum also has been used for stomach and abdominal cramping, sinus infections, colds, gall bladder issues, to stimulate the pancreas and liver, for digestion, muscle spasms, sunburn, joint pain, eczema, psoriasis, to heal wounds, varicose veins, sports injuries, tinnitus, nerve pain, etc. It has been used in conjunction with cardamom oil for heavy metal detoxification. The list seems as endless as its medicinal properties.
In aromatherapy it helps to activate the right side of the brain-opening one to new ideas and stimulating creativity and intuition. It is said to improve meditation and visualization and to make dreams far more vivid. It uplifts one's mood and helps to reduce feelings of stress and depression. It also is believed to work well with the heart chakra and is neutral for all three doshas (or a combination dosha type). It pairs well with bergamot, rose, chamomile, tea tree, lavender, lemon, geranium, cypress, neroli, rosemary and juniper oils.
Helichrysum is, as mentioned before, unbelievably expensive but is well worth the cost. It is an oil that has so many healing components that one would be advised to keep some in a first aid kit.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using this oil or plant, most notably, that it is an anticoagulant so if one is on blood thinners it is best not to use this. Always consult a physician before starting any herbal
As is customary with my posts I am including some links herein for your perusal. May they assist you in your journey for knowledge and better health.