Helichrysum Essential Oil: A Potent Remedial With A Gentle Hand
Helichrysum essential oil is yellow-to-slightly reddish in color with a pungent, distinctive, earthy, warm, honey-like scent which some say reminds them of sweet curry spice. It is a relative newcomer to the essential oil market, but demand for it is high, given its undisputed ability to help heal damaged skin tissue and soothe achy, inflammatory conditions. Like lavender, helichrysum essential oil is a complete medicine chest in a bottle!
A strongly aromatic, shrubby herb, helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum, syn. H. angustifolium) produces small clusters of bright yellow, semi-dry flowers that can be kept for years in a dried arrangement; in fact, helichrysum is also known as immortelle or everlasting. The name helichrysumis derived from the Greek helios (sun) and chrysos (gold). Usually taken in the form of an infusion (tea), helichrysum has long been valued for its astounding number of medicinal properties, especially in Mediterranean countries, where it has been used as a remedy for liver ailments, skin conditions, respiratory complaints, headaches, inflammatory conditions such as muscular aches, sprains, and strains, and rheumatism. African cultures prized the plant as a wound healer and burned the fragrant leaves as ceremonial incense.
Extremely gentle but highly efficacious, helichrysum essential oil is a powerful wound mender; a wonderful skin rejuvenative for aging and environmentally-damaged skin, as well as skin exhibiting eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis; and a superb anti-inflammatory. I especially like it for its ability to ease arthritic pain, sciatica, sprains, strains, and muscle spasms, including menstrual cramps. It is recommended for soothing achy hands and feet, too.
From Herb To Oil
Helichrysum is native to the Mediterranean region and North Africa, and its essential oil is mainly produced in Italy, Spain, France, Croatia, Corsica, Hungary, and Bulgaria. It takes approximately 1 ton of hand-harvested helichrysum flowering tops to produce just over 2 pounds of essential oil by steam distillation. Thank goodness a little goes a long way!
Psychological Benefits: Helichrysum is considered generally uplifting, harmonizing, nurturing, and calming, which is helpful when you’re dealing with issues of depression, apprehension, phobias, lethargy, stress, mental unrest/exhaustion, irritability, and shock. Thought to open the heart, it provides warmth and grounding to those dealing with emotional coldness and fear.
Essential Properties In A Nutshell: Powerful skin cell regenerative, excellent for treating wounds, burns, and skin irritations and pampering environmentally damaged, sensitive, or mature skin; antibacterial; superb anti-inflammatory and pain reliever; gently warming; soothes emotions and strengthens resistance, especially in times of heavy stress.
Safety Data & Usage Information: Generally nontoxic, non-irritating, and non-sensitizing. Do not use with children under 2 years of age.
Always dilute essential oils properly – according to age, health, medication intake, and skin condition – prior to application. My book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide (Storey Publishing, c2018), is a good reference, complete with safety guidelines and dilution charts.
The following recipe highlights the therapeutic nature of helichrysum essential oil with regard to its muscle-comforting properties.
Essential Sports Rub Recipe
This effective oil blend contains soothing anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties and has a subtly sweet herby aroma. It is designed to improve muscular circulation during the warm-up process or to deliver relief from overexertion after any vigorous or prolonged physical activity. It leaves muscles feeling fabulous!
This recipe calls for herb-infused oils of comfrey leaf, St. John’s wort flowers, and calendula flowers. You can either purchase them from better online herb purveyors such as Mountain Rose Herbs or learn to make them yourself. On page 211 of my book, Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide, I give complete DIY instructions!
Note: This recipe is safe for folks 12 years of age and older. For children ages 6 to 11, omit the rosemary essential oil and substitute with 6 additional drops of lavender essential oil.
• 8 drops helichrusum (Helichrysum italicum, syn. H. angustifolium) • 6 drops lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) • 6 drops rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. cineole or non-chemotype specific) • 4 drops ginger root (Zingiber officinale) • 2 drops sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)
• 3 tablespoons comfrey-infused oil • 3 tablespoons St. John’s wort-infused oil • 2 tablespoons calendula-infused oil
• 4-ounce plastic (PET or HDPE) or dark glass bottle with a pump, screw cap, or dropper top
To Make The Rub: Combine the helichrysum, lavender, rosemary, ginger, and orange essential oils in the bottle, then add the comfrey, St. John’s wort, and calendula oils. Screw the top on the bottle and shake vigorously for 2 minutes to blend. Label the bottle and set it in a cool, dark location for 24 hours so that the oils can synergize. Store at room temperature, away from heat and light; use within 1 year.
To Use: Shake well before each use. If possible, have a friend or partner massage this blend into your muscles, paying particular attention to any painful or tense areas, before and/or after activity. Applying it to skin that is pre-warmed from a bath, shower, or heating pad encourages the oil to penetrate deeply, but it is not necessary.
Yield: 4 ounces (120 ml)
Bonus uses: This blend also delivers soothing pain relief to sprains, arthritic joints, and newly bruised tissue. It effectively relaxes and comforts muscle spasms in the arms, hands, legs, and feet, too. Apply to affected areas three or four times per day.
Recipe excerpted from Stephanie Tourles’s Essential Oils: A Beginner’s Guide, (c2018 by Stephanie Tourles). Used with permission from Storey Publishing. Cover by Mars Vilaubi and Michaela Jebb, c2018, used with permission from Storey Publishing.