Helichrysum Essential Oil: Possible Benefits and Precautions of Use

Helichrysum essential oil is used in natural medicine as an adjuvant for skin care. What are its main applications? Here are the details!
Helichrysum Essential Oil: Possible Benefits and Precautions of Use
Franciele Rohor de Souza

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist Franciele Rohor de Souza.

Last update: 01 November, 2022

Helichrysum essential oil is a product obtained through a distillation process of the plant with the scientific name Helichrysum italicum. This species, native to the Mediterranean and southern Europe, is often used for medicinal purposes, due to its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal properties.

Specifically, and as detailed in a review shared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, its flowers and leaves contain pharmacological compounds that can be used as adjuvants in cases of allergies, skin disorders, infections, and inflammations, among others.

Likewise, its essential oil is used to promote wound healing, reduce pain, soothe cold symptoms, and reduce some digestive disorders. Interested in learning more about it? Below, we share in detail its main applications, scientific opinion, and precautions for use.

Possible benefits of helichrysum essential oil

Helichrysum essential oil has a long history as a natural remedy. Given its high concentration of bioactive compounds, it’s often used in traditional medicine as a therapeutic agent in various ailments and diseases. Even so, it should be considered that it isn’t a first-choice treatment.

For now, the evidence on its properties is limited.

Most of the studies supporting its applications are carried out in vitro or in animals, which leads to the need to obtain evidence in humans. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning its most outstanding active principles:

  • Sesquiterpene lactones
  • Phthalates, pyran derivatives and triterpenes
  • Caffeic and ursolic acids (in inflorescences)
  • Beta-sitosterol (especially in flowers)
  • Flavonoids (O,5 %) – especially helicrisina A and B
  • Essential oil (0.05-0.15 %) with nerol, alpha, and beta-pyrene, eugenol, linanol, and inositol (inflorescences)

Of course, this wealth of active substances is what explains its therapeutic potential. As compiled by Plants magazine, it’s possible to take advantage of its properties both externally and internally, as its ingestion is usually well tolerated and doesn’t carry risks. Let’s take a look at its uses.

Skin health

The main uses of helichrysum essential oil have to do with skin health. Firstly, it has been found to combat irritation and help regenerate skin.

Through a study shared in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology , researchers determined that topical use of H. italicum extract protects the dermis against factors such as transepidermal water loss, pH imbalance, and erythema index.

A laboratory study found that this essential oil acts as an anti-inflammatory. This could explain its potential to combat skin inflammation and its associated symptoms, such as irritation and redness. More research is needed to corroborate this.

Wound healing

Traditional medicine has used Helichrysum essential oil as an ally to promote wound healing. Anecdotal evidence suggests that its antioxidants and fats help repair affected tissue. However, there’ s no human clinical evidence to prove it.

Still, research in rats reported in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy made promising findings. In it, an ointment containing H. italicum essential oil helped increase the density of collagen fibers and thus improved healing.

A previous study also had similar findings. In the article, shared in Pharmaceuticals, topical formulations (gel and ointment) with helichrysum essential oil helped promote healing in diabetic rats. The researchers believe that these effects may also occur in human skin, but specific studies are needed to corroborate this.

Crema con aceite de helicriso.
Topical use of helichrysum formulations may accelerate healing. However, the evidence isn’t conclusive for humans.

Infections

The antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral qualities of helichrysum essential oil have been used in the prevention and treatment of various types of infections:

Digestive discomfort

In folk medicine, helichrysum is used to combat various digestive ailments. Both its tea and its essential oil help to stimulate gastric juices. In fact, its intake is linked to the relief of stomach pain, acidity, indigestion, dyspepsia, and constipation.

In this regard, research reported in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that helichrysum oil has antispasmodic potential. Specifically, it helps with intestinal cramps, abdominal pain, and bloating.

Since these findings were made in laboratory and mouse studies, more evidence is needed.

Other applications

Given its interesting properties, helichrysum essential oil is often used for other purposes. As with the benefits mentioned above, more robust and comprehensive studies are needed to evaluate its efficacy.

  • Because of its anti-inflammatory potential, this ingredient is common in ointments or natural remedies to soothe muscle and joint pain.
  • It can be used as an adjuvant against acne. Its antimicrobial properties are linked to the elimination of the bacteria that cause this condition. In addition, its healing properties favor the recovery of the affected skin. Concrete studies on this benefit are required.
  • Although there’s no evidence, helichrysum essential oil is used in aromatherapy and massage to combat insomnia. This benefit is attributed to its relaxing effect.

How is helichrysum essential oil used?

Helichrysum essential oil is often available in ready-to-use formulations for topical use. For example, in ointments, creams, or lotions.

However, it’s possible to use the pure oil in combination with a carrier oil, such as coconut, almond or olive oil. In this case, 3 or 5 drops of the oil are diluted for each ounce of carrier oil.

The product is also consumed as an infusion. Just add 5 drops of the oil to a cup of hot water. Let it steep and drink it.

However, some people use it in aromatherapy sessions using diffusers. If so, it’s important to inhale the vapors to obtain its properties. Pets and children should avoid direct contact with the product because it can be irritating.

Some essential oils.
In aromatherapy with this oil, care should be taken with its irritant capacity, especially in children and pets.

Precautions when using helichrysum essential oil

For most healthy adults, the essential oil of helichrysum is safe. However, it’s advisable to do a patch test before applying it as a treatment.

What does this mean? It means applying a small amount to an area of skin. If, after a few hours, there are no unfavorable reactions, it can be used without problem.

In a 2013 study, a woman experienced symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis after using a cream containing extracts of the plant. However, it isn’t known if this was the reason for the reaction, as other study participants had no effects.

However, the oil is contraindicated in the following cases:

  • Young children
  • Pregnancy and lactation
  • Patients with liver disease
  • People who are taking medication for the liver

What to remember about helichrysum essential oil?

In parts of Europe and the Mediterranean, helichrysum essential oil is used as a supplement to improve skin health, fight infections, and promote healing. Some animal and laboratory studies support its effects. However, researchers insist on the need to find solid evidence in humans.

Therefore, it’s an ingredient that should be used sparingly, preferably in formulated products. It shouldn’t be a first-choice approach and topical or external use is especially advised.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.