Helichrysum angustifolium DC, also H. italicum G. Don; H. Italicum(Roth) Guss. belonging to the Family Compositae (Asteraceae), is a strongly aromatic sub-shrub with many branched stems that are woody at the base. It can reach up to around a half a meter high and is native to the Mediterranean region, especially the eastern portion, with the major producing countries including Italy, Spain and France. It grows in dry sandy soil. An orange coloured essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops of the plant while the absolute, also produced from the flowering tops, is brown-red in colour. The yield of essential oil is small from 0.075 – 0.2%. The essential oil has been reported to exhibit antimicrobial properties in vitro against Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli, a mycobacterium species, and Candida albicans. Helichrysum essential oil has been found to be very healing to the skin. It appears to be very effective in stimulating production and protection of new cells and has been used effectively for bruising and scar tissue.
Traditionally, Helichrysum has been used in Europe as an expectorant, antitussive, choleretic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic agent. It has also been used for chronic bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough, psoriasis, burns, rheumatism, headache, migraine, allergies, and liver ailments, among others; usually in the form of a decoction or infusion. Extracts are used as flavor components in major food products including both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, frozen dairy desserts, candy, baked goods and gelatins and puddings. Use levels are generally below 0.003% of the extract. Helichrysum essential oil blends well with bergamot, German chamomile, clary sage, frankincense, lavender, geranium, neroli, orange, rose and rosewood.
Psychologically, Helichrysum has antispasmodic, grounding and calming properties. It can be considered for depression, neuralgia, nervous exhaustion and stress related conditions. It may also be helpful for grounding.
On the physiological level Helichrysum has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and cell generating properties. It is very helpful for skin conditions where cell regenerating properties are required like bruising, scars and wounds, as well as acne and eczema. It can also be considered for respiratory conditions as well as sprains and muscular aches and pains.
Contraindications:. The essential oil is generally considered to be non-toxic, non-irritating, non-sensitizing and non-phototoxic. The absolute has occasionally caused skin irritations.
Albert Y. Leung & Steven Foster , Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics, John Wiley & Sons, 1996
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004