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The Aromahead Blog - Aromatherapy Education and Resources

Helichrysum Species

There are many Helichrysum species used to distill essential oils. Each species varies significantly in its chemistry, aroma and therapeutic properties. I have a deep appreciation for all the Helichrysum species.

I have four favorites:

  • Helichrysum italicum
  • Helichrysum odoratissimum
  • Helichrysum bracteiferum
  • Helichrysum gymnocephalum

After we tested these four oils with GC/MS, we knew exactly what chemical components were present, and could more deeply understand their therapeutic properties. I love looking at an oil's chemistry to understand its therapeutic properties—it just makes sense!

Here's some information about four Helichrysum species

1. From Corsica, we have Helichrysum italicum. There is a component in this oil, curcumene, which is thought to add cell rejuvenation and tissue healing effects. The small nerol content suggests adding this oil to anti-fungal blends is a good idea--it may have an anti-fungal action, and is healing for the infected skin. The small percentage of ketones present are thought to contribute to the exceptional wound healing power of Corsican Helichrysum (we usually look for above 5%).

Considering its high percentage of neryl acetate, Corsican Helichrysum has a very calming effect. This differentiates it from the other Helichrysums. In fact, neryl acetate is rarely found in such a high percentage in any other essential oil. We can use Corsican Helichrysum for muscle spasms, irritable bowl syndrome, spastic coughing, and for painful tightness anywhere in the body. It has the aroma of honey, with a rich, penetrating, slightly fruity and herbaceous background.

Helichrysum species

2. From South Africa we have Helichrysum odoratissimum. This oil has a nice balance between pinenes and 1,8 cineole--giving us a powerful respiratory mucolytic and antispasmodic oil. It's great combined with Helichrysum bracteiferum. The combination of the b-caryophyllene and the 1,8 cineole creates an excellent anti-inflammatory, analgesic action. This oil is especially useful for inflammation that can accompany mucus congestion in the head, sinuses and lungs. Sinus headaches with a cold or flu respond well to Helichrysum odoratissimum. The potential of this Helichrysum combined with H. bracteiferum and H. gymnocephalum for complex diseases of the immune system is clear. It's been used successfully with infections, severe allergies and inflammatory conditions. The aroma is herbaceous, earthy, and has a slight pine background.

3. From Madagascar we have Helichrysum bracteiferum. Helichrysum bracteiferum is characterized by approximately equal amounts of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and oxides. The presence of humulene is unique, and can potentially support our health when it comes to immune system issues. The presence of caryophyllene creates a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect, and the pinenes are very valuable for the respiratory system. The 1.8 cineole is very significant for all allergies, congestion, colds and flu.

Helichrysum bracteiferum is unique. Instead of being known for wound healing, it's more popular for healing infections, getting rid of headaches, reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. The aroma is similar to the Helichrysum odoratissimum, being herbaceous and earthy, with a slight pine background.

4. From Madagascar and S. Africa we have Helichrysum gymnocephalum. This species has the highest content of 1,8 cineole, which provides deep healing for the respiratory system. Combined with the analgesic and anti-infectious properties of para-cymene, we have an oil that significantly reduces pain, is excellent for healing many types of infections, reduces tension throughout the body (especially the upper body), and is known to heal the respiratory system. This oil is great during a cold or flu. Given it's unique chemistry, it's used more for congestion, as an analgesic, for infections and headaches, and less for wound healing. The aroma is strong, fresh, and penetrating—a bit like Eucalyptus.

Helichrysum species

It's amazing to consider all the healing possibilities from this tiny little flower--what a gift from nature!

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Founder at Aromahead Institute
Andrea Butje is an internationally-recognized Aromatherapist who has changed the educational paradigm through her inspired approach to teaching essential oils and Aromatherapy Certification. Check out her book, The Heart of Aromatherapy, at Aromatics International!

Topics: Chemical Components, Essential Oils, helichrysum

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