Feel Better Now with Helichrysum Essential Oil
Feel Better Now with Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum is one of our favorite essential oils, as it has such immediate, profound pain relieving and healing effects for most folks who use it. The particular species of Helichrysum italicum, also known as Everlasting or Immortelle, is the most broadly therapeutic of the 500 Helichrysum species -- and the sub species (spp) of serotinum is considered particularly special. The reason has to do with the chemistry of the oil, and here we'll have a look at the special natural chemistry of the Helichrysum italicum species.
Healing Muscles, Joints and Connective Tissue
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 Tumeric, 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. Many Helichrysum italicum species contain 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, Helichrysum italicum spp. (sub species) 'serotinum' has the highest levels of neryl acetate. This is of a group of compounds known as 'esters' which are particularly good at acting as '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 spasming 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!)
The serotinum sub species, with the highest neryl acetate levels of all, is found almost exclusively to be grown on the French island of Corsica. There's something about the soft coastal air that produces some of the finest Helichrysum plants in the world. There have been producers of this sub species in the United States, though the total quantities of essential oil produced have been relatively small. Helichrysum italicum is also grown in Italy, Serbia-Montenegro, Bosnia and elsewhere in South-Eastern Europe. These locations produce excellent oils, though they may have lower amounts of neryl acetate, many have significant quantities of other important constituents.
Helichrysum contains molecules regarded for their ability to signal our cells to heal and regenerate. These compound are called 'di-ketones', of which Helichrysum specifically contains several Italidiones. You'll find the essential oil an ingredient in nearly every wound healing and scar reducing formula in aromatherapy. (It should not be used on open wounds due to its anticoagulant effects, but is suitable once an injury is no longer likely to bleed). These same regenerative di-ketones make the oil an excellent choice for all sorts of skin-care recipes; the regenerative action can be complemented by a carrier oil like Rosehip seed, whose carotene content also supports skin healing -- these two oils together form the foundation of many anti-aging skin care blends.
Anti-Coagulant, Anti-Hematoma and Bruise Prevention
A wonderful effect for all us accident prone folks is the bruise prevention offered by Helichrysum. Keeping a little of the oil on hand at all times is a smart way to keep ourselves injury-free. An application or two of the oil on any part of the body experiencing physical trauma can profoundly speed healing by preventing the formation of a hematoma, a bruised area where blood flow almost comes to a halt. For athletes twisting an ankle, for example, the oil can significantly reduce the swelling that occurs in the minutes after the injury, speeding healing by quickening the nutrient/waste exchange in the area. ANY blunt injury (walking into furniture in the middle of the night, or hitting your head on an open kitchen cabinet are but two common examples) will greatly benefit both in terms of healing time AND immediate pain reduction. (An important safety note: it is due to this anti-coagulant action that folks taking blood-thinning medication should check with their physician before use. It is likely that small topical applications of the oil should not pose a problem).
Personal Healing Experiences
The use of Helichrysum essential oil on the world stage of medicine has been very brief. While use in aromatherapy has been significant, the cross over into the greater world of natural health is only just happening. As a result, formal testing of its efficacy is limited. However, because the oil is so safe, its really worth a try to see if it works for you. The critics of natural health say over and over that so many plant medicines are 'unproven' -- we counter that so many 'proven' medicines are actually dangerous, lack truly unbiased scientific backing, and don't actually result in healing, but rather a temporary cessation of symptoms. A fairly small amount of Helichrysum essential oil will either give you the results you're looking for or it won't. MANY users HAVE reported excellent results: profound relief from back pain, neck pain, joint pain scar tissue tightness. Extreme sports enthusiasts have called it 'the magic oil' for its quick pain relief. If Helichrysum sounds like it may help you, there's every reason to give this wonderful, effective, organic natural medicine a try!
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