Helichrysum Oil: Benefits, Uses, Properties, and Side Effects
Helichrysum oil benefits are abundant, and its plant is known as “everlasting” and “immortelle.” But did you know that helichrysum oil is one of the most expensive and rare essential oils out there? This is mainly due to its long shelf life, intense, and unique aroma.
So, let’s understand about this oil in detail.
What Is Helichrysum Oil?
Helichrysum essential oil is extracted from its flowers through the process of steam distillation. It is found highly useful in the treatment of swollen body parts (or inflammation).
It is widely used in the perfume industry and holds high economic values. The dried flowers of helichrysum have great importance and reputation in traditional medicine as a diuretic, cholagogue, choleretic, and expectorant. (1)
The most promising effect of helichrysum in the upcoming medicinal facility is its use in the treatment of HIV infection.
About the plant:
Helichrysum is commonly known as the curry plant and belongs to the family of Asteraceae or daisy.
It is a small bushy, evergreen shrub with linear, fine, and silvery foliage. The leaves have a distinct aroma. The shrub grows to a height of 2 meters and can spread up to 3 feet (90 cm). The shrub grows well in full sunlight, especially in dry summers.
It has to be protected from rain and wet winters. It has an incredible capacity to withstand drought conditions and can be grown with least care and concern.
The flowers bloom during the summers. The plant is often used for bordering and fencing purpose. It also works as an insect and pest repellent.
The flowers are yellow and in the form of a dome. They are widely used in the preparation of essential oil.
The common name of the helichrysum are:
- Golden eternal flower
- Licorice plant
- Curry plant
Scientific Name Of Helichrysum Oil
The botanical name of helichrysum is Helichrysum italicum.
History Of Helichrysum Oil
The use of helichrysum dates back to the 18th century. It was valuable and famous for its scents and were often referred for its rosy, spicy, and exotic smell.
He described its odor to be an effective bug repellent and useful in the protection of clothes.
Leonardo Santini, the father of modern study, examined Helichrysum. Santini was a doctor and gave decoction of helichrysum to a few of his patients, who were suffering from bronchitis and asthmatic allergy (with cough).
He found improvement in their respiratory conditions and noticed that their arthritis and psoriasis problems healed considerably. He started practicing more with helichrysum and discovered its syrup in 1903 and reported it in 1953 in an Italian journal.
He also reported an insulin sensitivity activity in the animal experiment. He mentioned that helichrysum had a similar function as cortisol.
Color, Consistency, and Smell Of Helichrysum Oil
- The color of helichrysum oil is yellow to red.
- The consistency of helichrysum oil is thin and watery.
- The smell of helichrysum oil is fruit with a honey undertone.
Properties Of Helichrysum Essential Oil
- Diuretic – Increases urination
- Expectorant – Promotes the secretion of sputum through air passage
- Antioxidant – Inhibits the oxidation process
- Anti-cancerous – Effective against cancerous cells
- Antimicrobial – Inhibits the growth of microbes
- Anti-HIV – Prevents HIV infection
- Antispasmodic – Prevents muscular spasm
- Anticoagulant – Prevents blood clotting
- Antiallergenic – Prevents allergies
- Anti-hematoma – Prevents the leakage of the blood vessels
- Antiphlogistic – Alleviates or prevents inflammation
- Nervine – Helps in calming the nerves
- Antitussive – Prevents cough
- Cicatrizant – Heals the wounds
- Febrifuge – Prevents fever
- Antiseptic – Heals sepsis
- Cholagogic – Helps in bile flow
- Emollient – Softens the skin
- Mucolytic – Clears the mucus passage
- Fungicidal – Prevents the fungal infection
- Hepatic – Protects the liver cells
- Splenic – Protects the spleen
- Cytophylactic – Promotes new cell generation
Chemical Compounds In Helichrysum Oil
The other chemical components identified in Helichrysum italicum essential oil are: (6)
Methyl butanoate, ethyl ether, 2- methyl hexanoic acid, alpha-pinene, gamma-3- careen, 2- methyl 2-heptene, alpha- fenchene, isopropyl 2 methyl butyrate, cyclopentanol, beta pinene, limonene, p-Cymene, Terpinolene, p-Methylanisol, (E)-β-ocimène, γ-Terpinen, 2-Nonanone, 2-Butenoic acid, 3-methyl, 3-Hexanone, isovaleric acid, linalool, borneol, adamantine, fenchol, 3-Pentanone, cis-Pinocarveol, α-Terpineol, nerol, cis-Pinocarveol, neral, geraniol, camphene, bornyl acetate, linalool, geranyl acetate, 2-Undecanone, α-Terpinyl acetate, n-Tridecane, 1.3.8-ρ-Menthatriene, α-Cedrene, caryophyllene, n-Tetradecane, α-Bergamotene, α-curcumene, anisole, guainol, acetic acid, neryl acetate, ρ-Cresol, δ-Selinene, α-Eudesmol, Z-nerolidol, eugenol, o-cresol, cis-carveol, bulnesol, geranyl butanoate, δ-Cadinene, dehydro-1.8-cineole, 2,3-dimethyl-Benzofuran, and -Pentadecanone.
Health Benefits Of Helichrysum Oil
Though the helichrysum oil benefits are abundant, the most prominent ones demonstrated by recent studies are:
- Potent antimicrobial agent
- Dissolves blood clots
- Effective mucus-producing property
- Prevents liver & spleen cells from infection
- Aids in the treatment of HIV
- Treats chronic cough
- Effective against cancerous cells
- Reduces inflammation
- Potent antibiotic agent
- Prevents fungal infections
Besides these, helichrysum oil is found effective for neural problems and other psychological issues. It provides emotional support and serves as a mood stabilizer. The aroma is found effective in controlling negative attitude, bitterness, half-conscious anger, and resentment. Aromatherapists use it is for people with excess emotional stress.
1. Potent antimicrobial agent
Helichrysum essential oil works as a potent antioxidant. During a study, when 19 microbe species were studied, out of them, helichrysum was found effective on 16 species whereas the remaining three also showed resistance to this oil.
The 16 species included Staphylococcus aureus, Micrococcus luteus, Bacillus cereus, Enterococcus cereus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecalis, Proteus mirabilis, Candida albicans, Fusarium solani, Alternaria alternata and Ascochyta rabiei.
The remaining three microbe species that showed resistance were E. coli, K. pneumonia, and L. Monocytogenes.
A most sensitive bacterium found was E. cereus with minimum inhibition and bactericidal property in it. The oil was also found effective on S. Cerevisiae infection too. Thanks to the chemical compounds nerol, geranyl acetate, neryl acetate, and geraniol – each of these are attributed to its antimicrobial activity. (7)
2. Dissolves blood clots
Helichrysum oil works as a potent anticoagulant and anti hematoma agent. It is a great blessing for patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. It helps in liquefying the blood and further, prevents cardiac arrest. (8)
It is also found effective in clearing the hemorrhage and blood clots in the brain. Mix 3 -4 drops of helichrysum essential oil with any carrier oil. Use this mixture to massage your head. This gives you quick relief from hemorrhage and hematoma.
3. Effective mucus-producing property
Helichrysum is also an effective mucolytic agent and helps in the production of mucous. It liquefies coagulated mucus in the case of cough and nasal congestion.
The sesquiterpenes in helichrysum can be effective as mucolytic. The oil is often used in syrups and in aromatherapy for nasal congestion. (9)
4. Prevents liver & spleen cells from infection
Helichrysum essential oil is found useful in the treatment of liver infections. Due to its choleretic properties, it promotes the release of bile. Bile helps in proper digestion of fat.
The compounds monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes are found helpful in the treatment of liver infections. However, the hepatoprotective activity of Helichrysum is not yet reported and therefore, requires more research. (10, 11)
5. Aids in the treatment of HIV
Helichrysum is found useful in the treatment of AIDS. In recent years, this major life-threatening disease has become more prevalent.
Researchers are trying to explore the cure for AIDS and to counter the thorough mode changing nature of the HIV virus. In one of the studies, an extract of helichrysum was found with phloroglucinol alpha- pyrone arzanol. (12)
Arzanol was found to be an effective and potent NF-KB inhibitor. It is identical to the compound homoarenol and can alter the hydroxylation pattern of aromatic moiety.
Here’s a quick outline on what Arzanol does:
- It inhibits HIV -1 and the replication of T cells
- It releases pro-inflammatory cytokines
- It stimulates the synthesis of primary monocytes
Due to the inhibition of T cell replication, helichrysum is found effective in the treatment of AIDS.
6. Treats chronic cough
Yet another great health benefit of helichrysum oil is that it can treat chronic coughs.
Helichrysum has been used from eras for treating congestion. In 1903, Santini also used it for cough treatment and reported helichrysum to be an effective medicine for getting rid of coughs.
It has rich antitussive properties. No wonder it is often used in the dilution or liquefication of cough and congestion. (13)
It is also useful for asthmatic congestion and used in the preparation of cough syrups.
7. Effective against cancerous cells
Not many know that the compound geraniol in Helichrysum oil is monoterpene alcohol, which has an interesting anti-cancerous activity.
The anticancerous efficiency of geraniol is reported by many in-vitro and in-vivo activities against prostate cancer, kidney cancer, hepatic cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, mouth cancer, and skin cancer.
Geraniol 10 μM inhibits proliferation of cells in culture of colon cancer and also reduces the volume of the tumor by 26%. It arrests the cell cycle and triggers apoptosis in cultured cells (in the case of animal tumors in prostate cancer).
Geraniol, when given along with 5-fluorouracil, can increase the antitumor effect of geraniol. Apoptosis or death of cancerous/affected cells is quite effective for treating cancer.
When the count of the infected cells decreases, it decreases the tumor size. Medical experts call it an anti-tumor progressive drug. (14)
8. Reduces inflammation
Helichrysum essential oil works as an effective anti-inflammatory agent. It reduces swelling, redness, pain, and other symptoms associated to it. (15)
9. Potent antibiotic agent
Helichrysum oil also works as an effective antibiotic agent. When taken orally or blended with other solutions, it helps in providing a better immunity, strengthens the T-cell response to the body, and helps in fighting infections. Thanks to the compound geraniol in it.
10. Prevents fungal infections
Helichrysum is also an antifungal agent. It shows sensitivity for fungal infections. During a study on the antifungal property of helichrysum, it was found effective on C albicans, S cervisiae, F solani, and A alternate.
When mixed with other carrier oils like olive oil or coconut oil and applied topically on the infected area in a defined manner, it can prevent the fungal infection from spreading. (18)
What Blends With Helichrysum Oil?
Helichrysum oil blends the best with:
- Rose oil
- Clary Sage oil
- Geranium oil
- Lavender oil
- Citrus oil
- Jasmine oil
- Sandalwood oil
- Frankincense oil
How To Use Helichrysum Oil?
Helichrysum essential oil can be used topically, aromatically, and also internally.
- For aromatherapy, diffuse 2-3 drops of it in a diffuser or mix a few drops of into your bath tub.
- For topical application, mix 2-3 drops of helichrysum oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil.
- For oral consumption, precaution must be taken. Add 1 drop to 4 ounces of liquid. Since it is a potent essential oil, using it in excess can be dangerous.
Side Effects Of Helichrysum Oil
- Helichrysum is always considered as a safe essential oil but can be risky for eyes and inner ear. It can also cause skin irritation.
- Use of helichrysum essential oil must be avoided during pregnancy and lactation.
- Helichrysum can trigger stomach cramps. Hence, people with gall stone problems must avoid using it.
- It can trigger allergies in some people who are sensitive to ragweeds and plants belonging to the compositae family.