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Helichrysum Essential Oil

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Helichrysum Essential Oil
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General Description

Helichrysum essential oil is acquired through steam distillation of the flower parts of plant species belonging to the genus Helichrysum, in particular Helichrysum italicum (also known as Helichrysum angustifolium). Helichrysum essential oil appears pale yellow to yellow in color with thin consistency and a rather floral mint scent that is both earthy and fresh. [1] The medium to strong aroma that this essential oil offers is reminiscent of honey in tea or vapor rub substituted eventually by a floral scent, as claimed. [2]

Different regions across the globe utilize in traditional medicine quite a number of plant species from the large genus Helichrysum for treating wounds, respiratory tract infections, and gastrointestinal disorders. In South Africa, for example, helichrysum has been part of the people's traditional medicine, and such ethnopharmacological use has been widely documented, with some South African species having been thoroughly screened for their biological activity. [3] In Bosnia and Herzegovina of Southeastern Europe, H. italicum constitutes medicinal and aromatic herbs traditionally and commonly exploited for ethno-therapeutic purpose, either in fresh, raw, or dried condition. [4]

Uses and Reported Benefits

To date, the world enjoys several of helichrysum essential oil's health benefits and uses in the practice of aromatherapy. Helichrysum essential oil is extensively used to provide relief to burns and older sun damaged skin, owing to its excellent skin healing properties, and can minimize scarring and stretch marks. [1] Because of its rejuvenating effect on the skin, it comes in no wonder that helichrysum essential oil is a familiar constituent in anti-aging products. [5]

Helichrysum essential oil can also enhance one's immunity by contributing to the defense against free radicals and by boosting the liver's ability to process toxins. [6] In aromatherapy, it has been reported useful in support of diverse conditions such as rheumatism arthritis, hematoma, varicose ulcers, dermatitis, gingivitis, gout, bronchitis, and goiter and can alleviate pain during menstruation and headaches. [7]

Contraindications and Safety

As with other essential oils, dilution is advised for both topical and internal uses of helichrysum essential oil. Pregnant women are to seek physician's opinion on use, although a food amount of helichrysum is considered safe for pregnant and lactating women. [8] Dilution is specially recommended when applying on sensitive areas such as the face, neck, and genital area. Note also that skin sensitivity is possible, so exercise caution. [6]

The use of sandy everlasting - by which H. italicum is also branded locally - is to be avoided among patients with gallstones and other diseases characterized by a blockade of bile ducts. Sandy everlasting can possibly get in the way in the treatment of gallstones and can further induce the production of bile, which can lead to the worsening of the bile duct blockade. [8]

Scientific Studies and Research

A wide range of biological activities of extracts, essential oils, and isolated compounds from the plant species composing genus Helichrysum have been well documented and well studied. Majority of the health benefits that can be gained from helichrysum essential oil use can be attributed to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties of Helichrysum. Such properties are indeed pharmacologically and medically of significance and value, providing prospective treatment or relief to various illnesses.

Afoulous S. et al. (2011) provided scientific support for the cytotoxic and antimalarial properties of helichrysum essential oil. In their study, helichrysum essential oil exerted in vitro cytotoxic activity against human breast cancer cells (MCF-7 cells) at an IC50 of 16 " 2 mg/L. [9]

Lourens et al. (2004) examined the in vitro biological activity of four indigenous South African Helichrysum species. Specifically, H. dasyanthum, H. felinum, H. excisum, and H. petiolare were investigated for their antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities. Results from this study revealed that helichrysum essential oils and the acetone and methanol extracts were active against Gram-positive bacteria. In the 5-lipoxygenase assay, helichrysum essential oils displayed activity indicative of their anti-inflammatory action. [10] In another different study, acetophenone glucosides isolated from the extracts of H. italicum aerial parts have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory activity in a mouse ear edema test. [11]

H. italicum has been determined to be deterrent on the growth of Staphylococcus aureus as well as on the production of some staphylococcal enzymes, including coagulase, DNAse, thermonuclease, and lipase. [12] Moreover, it was shown that helichrysum essential oil was active as well against chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium falciparum FcB1-Columbia strain at an IC50 of 25 " 1 mg/L. [9] (Plasmodium falciparum is a parasite notorious for causing malaria in humans.)

But the benefits don't stop here. Helichrysum essential oil has not only antibacterial property but also antifungal property to boot. In fact, Angioni et al. (2003) had reported the antifungal activity of helichrysum essential oil, specifically from the Sardinian dwarf curry variety (i.e., H. italicum G. Don ssp. microphyllum (Willd) Nym). [13]

Among the anti-inflammatory substances known to be afforded by H. italicum, arzanol is worthy of mention. Arzanol is actually a phloroglucinyl alpha-pyrone with an interesting ability to suppress HIV- 1 replication in T cells and to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in monocytes. In other words, arzanol possesses both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. [14] It is a constituent of H. italicum that has been reported to inhibit NF-κB transcription factor [14] and to suppress the activities of cyclooxygenase-1 and 5-lipoxygenase and the biosynthesis of microsomal PGE(2) synthase- 1. [15] The anti-inflammatory effects of arzanol may potentially benefit not only patients with inflammatory disorders but also those with cancer. As studies have demonstrated, chemicals with antiinflammatory properties targeting the molecules of signaling cascades associated with inflammation and carcinogenesis may come helpful and valuable in the form of cancer chemopreventive drugs.

Walters (2009) in Natural News pointed out the blood pressure-lowering ability of two active ingredients in Helichrysum, namely, curcumene and caryophyllene. Moreover, the application of the oil over scars has been said to reduce their appearance regardless of how long the scars have already been there. Such findings have been derived from the study conducted at the University of Nigeria. What interests the medical community however are the antispasmodic, anticoagulant, and antiallergenic properties that one can obtain from helichrysum essential oil. Owing to its anticoagulant property, helichrysum essential oil can hence help people with cardiovascular disorders that require anticoagulants as part of their treatment. On the other hand, the oil's anti-allergenic effect can alleviate the superficial signs of allergies such as skin rashes and stomach aches. [16]

Molecular Components and Chemistry

Helichrysum prides itself on being a precious natural source of a variety of different secondary metabolites/phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, acetophenones, phloroglucinols, pyrones, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. [3] In the study of Afoulous et al. (2011) on H. gymnocephalum essential oil, the following chief components were identified: 1,8-cineole (47.4%), bicyclosesquiphellandrene (5.6%), gamma-curcumene (5.6%), alpha-amorphene (5.1%), and bicyclogermacrene (5%). [9] On the other hand, Chalchat and Ozcan (2006) analyzed the aerial parts of H. chasmolycicum for their chemical composition through gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and isolated 57 constituents, the principal ones being beta-caryophyllene (27.6%), beta-selinene (8.9%), alpha-selinene (8.4%), caryophyllene oxide (7.3%), and carvacrol (2.4%). [17]


[1] Helichrysum 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oil- 10 ml. Edens Garden. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[2] Helichrysum Gymnocephalum Essential Oil 100% Pure 10 Ml 0.34 Fl. Oz. 365 Drops Therapeutic Grade By Nature's Kiss. Nature's Kiss. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[3] Lourens A. C., Viljoen A. M., & van Heerden F. R. (2008). South African Helichrysum species: a review of the traditional uses, biological activity and phytochemistry. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 119(3): 630-652. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.06.011. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[4] Redzic S. S. (2007). The ecological aspect of ethnobotany and ethnopharmacology of population in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Collegium Antropologicum, 31(3): 869-890. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[5] Helichrysum Essential Oil (Immortelle) - 100% Pure Helichrysum Italicum 5ml. Miracle Botanicals. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[6] Helichrysum Essential Oil 5ml. Young Living. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[7] Helichrysum Gymnocephalum Essential Oil 100% Pure 10 Ml 0.34 Fl. Oz. 365 Drops Therapeutic Grade By Nature's Kiss. Nature's Kiss. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[8] Sandy everlasting side effects & safety. WebMD, LLC. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from activeIngredientName=sandy+everlasting&source=1

[9] Afoulous S. et al. (2011). Helichrysum gymnocephalum essential oil: chemical composition and cytotoxic, antimalarial and antioxidant activities, attribution of the activity origin by correlations. Molecules, 16(10): 8273-8291. doi: 10.3390/molecules16108273. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[10] Lourens A. C. et al. (2004). In vitro biological activity and essential oil composition of four indigenous South African Helichrysum species. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 95(2-3): 253- 258. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[11] Sala A., Recio M. C., Giner R. M., M""ez S., & R"os J. L. (2001). New acetophenone glucosides isolated from extracts of Helichrysum italicum with antinflammatory activity. Journal of Natural Products, 64(10): 1360-1362. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[12] Nostro A. et al. (2001). Effects of Helichrysum italicum extract on growth and enzymatic activity of Staphylococcus aureus. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 17(6): 517-520. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[13] Angioni A. et al. (2003). Chemical composition, plant genetic differences, and antifungal activity of the essential oil of Helichrysum italicum G. Don ssp. microphyllum (Willd) Nym. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 51(4): 1030-1034. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[14] Appendino G. et al. (2007). Arzanol, an anti-inflammatory and anti-HIV-1 phloroglucinol alphapyrone from Helichrysum italicum ssp. microphyllum. Journal of Natural Products, 70(4): 608-612. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[15] Bauer J. et al. (2011). Arzanol, a prenylated heterodimeric phloroglucinyl pyrone, inhibits eicosanoid biosynthesis and exhibits anti-inflammatory efficacy in vivo. Biochemical Pharmacology, 81(2): 259-268. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2010.09.025. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[16] Walters S. (2009). Use the healing properties of helichrysum essential oil. Natural News. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

[17] Chalchat J. C. & Ozcan M. M. (2006). Composition of the essential oil of Helichrysum chasmolycicum growing wild in Turkey. Journal of Medicinal Food, 9(2): 287-289. Retrieved 24 April 2013 from

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