Helichrysum italicum (Immortelle, Everlasting) is one of those oils that far too few people seem to know about. It’s not exactly a secret, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, it doesn’t seem to appear on many of the standard ‘lists’ for students. True, it is a little on the costly side, yet its uses are widespread, the benefits can be really dramatic, and it is safe and simple to use. Its sweet floral notes blend with many different oils, and it becomes even more effective when blended synergistically.
The Plant: There are over 500 species of Helichrysum but many do not produce an essential oil. The species most frequently use in aromatherapy is H. angustifolium or italicum. Others are H. stoechas (Spain, Portugal), H. gymnocephalum (Madagascar), H. bractiferum (South Africa), and H. splendidum (South Africa). H. italicum is a small aromatic shrub which produces yellow flowers; it is from these flowering tops that the essential oil is derived through steam distillation.
Therapeutic uses: The most important actions of the oil are its anti-inflammatory and blood purifying effects. It is renowned for use on the skin for a variety of conditions (anything from scars, skin conditions, sebaceous cysts) and is particularly indicated for bruising, and healing and normalising skin tissue. Acupuncturists use it, putting a dab on the skin as the needle is withdrawn to prevent bruising. Helichrysum also has powerful emotional healing value. There is something enormously comforting about the oil, which seems to generate a feeling that ‘all is well with the world’. Try using it in cases of shock, grief and emotional bruising.
Botanical name: Helichrysum italicum (aka H. angustifolium)
Common names: Everlasting, Immortelle
Part used: Flowers
Production: Steam distillation
Notes: Middle / Base
Blending: camomile, sandalwood, neroli, rose, frankincense, petitgrain, clary sage, cedarwood, myrrh
Chemical components: Amongst other compounds the oil contains alpha-pinene, italidiones, a high percentage of neryl acetate, and also gamma-curcumene and various other sesqueterpenes and sesqueterpenols as well as coumarins and acids.
Typical chemical composition: neryl acetate (33%), alpha terpineol + gamma curcumene (12%), neryl isobutyrate + italidione (11%), limonene (6%), neryl propionate (5%), alpha pinene (3%), nerol (3%) …
Method of use and safety: H. angustifolium is a very safe oil, being non-toxic, non-irritant, and non-sensitising. It can be administered even without dilution via massage, compress, bath and inhalation. Under supervision it can be taken orally in small doses as a liver stimulant or as a ‘rescue drop’ in case of psychological shock.
Interesting facts: The price of this oil has gone up about threefold in the past 10 years. One reason for this is that a well-known skincare brand became aware of the massive benefits that this oil gives. The best oil comes from Corsica where it is now cost-effective for distillers to collect wild-growing flowers from the high mountains using helicopters!