Helichrysum (or everlasting)
Applied to the skin or through massage
Orale Route: inappropriate and prohibited
Inhalation or Diffusion: inappropriate and prohibited
Helichrysum is a member of the Asteraceae family. There are more than three hundred herbaceous or shrub species. The yellow flowers dry and keep a beautiful appearance for a long time, which leads to the name of helichrysum combining sun (helios) and gold (chrysos).
It is found all over the Mediterranean area, especially in Spain, Italy and Corsica. Helichrysum italicum should not be confused with its different sisters from Italy, the Balkans or Madagascar.
The long lasting radiant beauty of helichrysum, impressed the Greeks so much that they crowned the images and statues of Apollo with it. The plant symbolised love. This is why in an ode by Theocritus, a chivalrous goat keeper gives his beloved a "branch of ivy strewn with helichrysum flowers". This is also why the solar gold of the everlasting was used for a long time to make bridal flower crowns. The ancients used the plant in a decoction to clear respiratory tract, and assigned it diuretic properties. However, they praised specially for its capacity to heal wounds and cure injuries that were frequently provoked by sword and sling fights! Nowadays, essential oil of everlasting, an incredibly effective extremely fast acting anti-haematoma, has traded the battle fields for gymnasiums, where it is referred to as "boxer's oil" and playgrounds where it erases bruises and treats minor injuries.
Cultivation and production
In Corsica, the harvest of the best quality helichrysum, muredda in Corsican, takes place in July-August. A tooth sickle is still used sometimes, and the precious flowers are transported in jute tarpaulins.
The intense and intoxicating scent, between hay and honey, is characteristic of the Corsican scrub land.
Extraction and yield
One tonne of flowering tops of Helichrysum italicum gives less than two litres of essential oil with a yield of only 0.2%.
Helichrysum italicum is the only plant containing neryl acetate (23%), which provides it with all the properties absent in the other species. Its active ingredients are principally sesquiterpenes, monoterpenols, double ketones, diones (7% to 14%) as well as ketones (1.5% to 3%).
Essential oil of helichrysum is the most potent anti-haematoma known. Ensuring the health and beauty of the skin, it treats those who wish that the traces of plastic or cosmetic surgery, acne rosacea and fissures disappear as quickly as possible. It regularises circulation disorders, phlebitis, varicose veins and haemorrhoids. As effective against the bruising of the soul as those of the body, it helps control resentment and anger.
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.