Helichrysum is a favorite essential oil of knowledgeable aromatherapists, as it has such immediate, profound pain relieving and healing effects. The particular species of Helichrysum “italicum”, also known as Everlasting or Immortelle, is the most broadly therapeutic of the 500 Helichrysum species. The reason has to do with the chemistry of the oil. Here we’ll have a look at the oil’s special natural chemistry, and how it might help you relieve pain and heal faster.
Healing The Body’s Structure
Helichrysum’s most revered effects have to do with the healing of the musculoskeletal system — it happens to have several natural chemical constituents that synergize to produce quick, profound results. Pure essential oils are often made up of many, sometimes hundreds of individual molecules. The “chemistry profile” of Helichrysum essential oil is very special, containing a spectrum of healing compounds produced by a single plant. Many essential oils have proven medical effects (search Pub Med for “essential oil” to see thousands of results), including antibacterial, antiviral, and anticancer activity. Helichrysum’s primary applications are on the healing of the muscles, joints, skin and connective tissues — though there are more diverse uses, these are the easiest for most users to experience.
Helichrysum has the properties of being anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and regenerative all in the same oil. The anti-inflammatory effects can be attributed to the “curcumenes” present in the oil. “Curcumenes” have recently been very prominent in the field of natural nutrition, as the extract of the spice turmeric, called “curcumin” has become popular as an anti-inflammatory supplement. The supplement is considered helpful not only for joint inflammation and pain, but as an all-around anti-aging supplement as well. Helichrysum contains a significant quantity of “gamma curcumene”, providing an excellent anti-inflammatory effect.
Where Helichrysum distilled from plants grown in coastal regions of the Mediterranean really stand out is in its ability to release muscle tension. In particular, a sub-species known as “serotinum” has the highest levels of neryl acetate. This is of a group of compounds known as “esters” which are particularly good anti-spasmodics. Just like the word says, these compounds relieve muscle spasms — a condition that is often found in our necks and backs where the musculature has locked up in a stiff and painful condition. This can be the result of old injuries (where the body is trying to protect itself by holding together weak joints), from stress, or simple poor posture or ergonomics (like hunching over a computer all day). By relieving these spasms, circulation in the area is increased, and the healing process is dramatically accelerated.
Several essential oils contain various levels of molecules called “ketones”. These molecules are known to stimulate cellular regeneration (it’s why Sage oil is used to stimulate hair growth, for example). Yet these molecules can be dangerous, depending on their specific make-up. Those found in Helichrysum however, are considered completely safe. This is why the essential oil is found in nearly every formula for wound healing and scar reduction, and why the oil is indicated for healing all sorts of other types of injuries as well. You can see that this action synergizes with the others: once inflammation is reduced, and circulation to an injured area restored, healing will begin naturally — and in this case, it gets a little further encouragement from these special active ingredients.
Anti-Hematoma, Bruise Preventative
Until now we’ve talked about how the essential oil can help heal virtually any injury that has already occurred, or chronic injuries that seem to never heal. An additional unique feature of Helichrysum is its ability to prevent the formation of bruises (which are really just blood clots visible through the skin) when an in injury has JUST happened. Say you’ve just twisted an ankle or banged your knee. On a cellular level, there’s the bursting of blood capillaries and cell walls. Fluid accumulates and stagnates in the area, slowing the healing process. Applying a few drops of oil right away can effectively prevent this bruising, and dramatically speed healing of the injury.
User Experiences Encourage Experimentation
Personal and anecdotal experience with Helichrysum essential oil confirms its purported healing actions. A user with chronic neck pain from a sever auto accident found relief within minutes of massaging the essential oil at 100% into the stiff and painful vertebrae. Other users find their sports-related injuries to heal more quickly, and are less likely to become chronic overuse conditions. Application after simple burns in the kitchen leads to quick pain relief and fast healing. While the scientific evaluation of Helichrysum’s effects are yet to be performed, this is no reason to avoid trying this essential oil for yourself — the conventional thinkers firmly believed the Earth was flat for a very long time!