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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Traditional Use of Helichrysum
Helichrysum has been used in Europe to treat conditions such as asthma, whooping cough and chronic bronchitis; it has also been used to treat a number of skin conditions including psoriasis and burns. Other traditional uses of helichrysum include use in the treatment of liver problems, headaches and migraines.
Botanical Profile of Helichrysum
Helichrysum is a herb that is very fragrant; it grows up to 24 inches in height. Helichrysum is known for its brightly colored, “daisy-like” flowers. The flowers of helichrysum are frequently used by florists for their vividly colored flowers that resemble daisies. However, although there are many species of helichrysum that are used by florists, only one, Helichrysum angustifolium italicum, is recommended for aromatherapy purposes.
Extraction of Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum is native to the Mediterranean region and North Africa; it is now cultivated mainly in Italy, France and Spain. Helichrysum essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the fresh flowers. Helichrysum oil has a honey-like, sweet fragrance with green undertones; it is usually pale yellow in color, with some red tints. It is also possible to obtain an absolute from helichrysum by solvent extraction.
Use of Helichrysum Oil in Aromatherapy
Helichrysum essential oil is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent and anti-allergic. It is used to treat asthma, dermatitis, eczema, arthritis, rheumatism, muscular aches and pains and any other inflammatory condition. Helichrysum oil is also used to treat depression and stress, as it is believed to be helpful with emotional issues.
Use of Helichrysum Oil for Stress
Helichrysum essential oil is believed to be a very effective oil in the treatment and prevention of stress, as it is has very calming properties; helichrysum oil is primarily made up of the chemical components of alcohols and esters, both very calming and relaxing elements. Mentally, helichrysum essential oil can help people who are emotionally exhausted and debilitated; it is for this reason that many believe helichrysum to be of “sacred” and spiritual value.
Cautions for Using Helichrysum Essential Oil
Helichrysum essential oil is non-toxic, non-sensitizing, non-irritant and a “safe” oil to use; there are no known contra-indications for use. It is even considered to be suitable for use with babies and children due to its gentle properties. However, as is the case when using any essential oil or if unfamiliar with the use of essential oils, professional advice should be taken before using it. Individual circumstances may differ.
–Davis, Patricia 2005 Aromatherapy An A-Z UK: Vermilion
–Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils UK:Element
This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Helichrysum Essential Oil
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Making Scents of Information
Helichrysum oil is one of the most expensive essential oils in aromatherapy use. However, it is also thought to be spiritual and sacred by some, in addition to some of its more practical uses in aromatherapy.
Helichrysum (Helichrysum angustifolium italicum) is also known by the French synonym Immortelle, which means everlasting. Helichrysum is a very fragrant plant and it has traditionally been used in Europe for a number of medicinal problems.