Helichrysum Species

by Andrea on June 27, 2008

There are many Helichrysum species used to distill essential oils. Each species varies significantly in its chemistry, aroma and therapeutic properties. I have a deep appreciation for all the Helichrysum species.

I have four favorites:

  • Helichrysum italicum
  • Helichrysum odoratissimum
  • Helichrysum bracteiferum
  • Helichrysum gymnocephalum

After we tested these four oils with GC/MS, we knew exactly what chemical components were present, and could more deeply understand their therapeutic properties. I love looking at an oil’s chemistry to understand its therapeutic properties—it just makes sense!

Here’s some information about four Helichrysum species

1. From Corsica, we have Helichrysum italicum. There is a component in this oil, curcumene, which is thought to add cell rejuvenation and tissue healing effects. The small nerol content suggests adding this oil to anti-fungal blends is a good idea–it may have an anti-fungal action, and is healing for the infected skin. The small percentage of ketones present are thought to contribute to the exceptional wound healing power of Corsican Helichrysum (we usually look for above 5%).

Considering its high percentage of neryl acetate, Corsican Helichrysum has a very calming effect. This differentiates it from the other Helichrysums. In fact, neryl acetate is rarely found in such a high percentage in any other essential oil. We can use Corsican Helichrysum for muscle spasms, irritable bowl syndrome, spastic coughing, and for painful tightness anywhere in the body. It has the aroma of honey, with a rich, penetrating, slightly fruity and herbaceous background.

Helichrysum species

2. From South Africa we have Helichrysum odoratissimum. This oil has a nice balance between pinenes and 1,8 cineole–giving us a powerful respiratory mucolytic and antispasmodic oil. It’s great combined with Helichrysum bracteiferum. The combination of the b-caryophyllene and the 1,8 cineole creates an excellent anti-inflammatory, analgesic action. This oil is especially useful for inflammation that can accompany mucus congestion in the head, sinuses and lungs. Sinus headaches with a cold or flu respond well to Helichrysum odoratissimum. The potential of this Helichrysum combined with H. bracteiferum and H. gymnocephalum for complex diseases of the immune system is clear. It’s been used successfully with infections, severe allergies and inflammatory conditions. The aroma is herbaceous, earthy, and has a slight pine background.

3. From Madagascar we have Helichrysum bracteiferum. Helichrysum bracteiferum is characterized by approximately equal amounts of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and oxides. The presence of humulene is unique, and can potentially support our health when it comes to immune system issues. The presence of caryophyllene creates a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect, and the pinenes are very valuable for the respiratory system. The 1.8 cineole is very significant for all allergies, congestion, colds and flu.

Helichrysum bracteiferum is unique. Instead of being known for wound healing, it’s more popular for healing infections, getting rid of headaches, reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. The aroma is similar to the Helichrysum odoratissimum, being herbaceous and earthy, with a slight pine background.

4. From Madagascar and S. Africa we have Helichrysum gymnocephalum. This species has the highest content of 1,8 cineole, which provides deep healing for the respiratory system. Combined with the analgesic and anti-infectious properties of para-cymene, we have an oil that significantly reduces pain, is excellent for healing many types of infections, reduces tension throughout the body (especially the upper body), and is known to heal the respiratory system. This oil is great during a cold or flu. Given it’s unique chemistry, it’s used more for congestion, as an analgesic, for infections and headaches, and less for wound healing. The aroma is strong, fresh, and penetrating—a bit like Eucalyptus.

It’s amazing to consider all the healing possibilities from this tiny little flower–what a gift from nature!

Helichrysum species

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Owner/Instructor at Aromahead Institute
Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Liara Covert February 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Your knowledge and passion for herbs and oils reminds me of the fictional character, Brother Cadfael from medieval mysteries of Ellis Peters. These novels raise awarenss of practices and beliefs of tenth century monks in Shrewsbury. They encourage spiritual discernment and sharpening your knowledge of plants and natural herbs. If you are unfamilliar with them, they would be highly-recommended. At least thirteen films exist based on these stories.


Rosa November 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Hello Andrea,

Thanks for the info! So, I’ve looked for Helichrysum italicum on amazon, and I found one by Miracle Botanicals “Helichrysum Essential Oil (Moroccan) – 100% Pure High Quality Medicinal Grade Helichrysum Italicum – 5ml+” – nut I am not sure now if it has the same properties you described here – this is from Morocco and not from Corsica. They call it italicum too, but…? I’d like to know your opinion on this, since they differ in origin and you seem to know more about essential oils and their origins, purities, brands, etc than me. :) Tks!


Andrea Butje November 13, 2014 at 10:04 am

Hi Rosa – the Corsican Helichrysum is a different chemotype than any other italicum, so they will differ – it depends on the chemistry. The one from Corsica is unique and has incredible skin and wound healing properties. I would recommend purchasing from Aromatics International (www.aromaticsinternational.com) or Stillpoint Aromatics (www.stillpointaromatics.com).


mang February 16, 2015 at 2:07 am

Hi Andrea,

I have been doing a little research on helichrysums, and a couple of websites mention that this plant help with hemorrhages. One website even go as far saying that this plants helps with brain hemorrhages. I’ve read there are 600 or more species of this plant and they could have been talking about one of the species but didn’t mention which species. I am looking for a plant in essential oil form to help reduce brain hemorrhages. Can you please recommend a species of helichrysum if you can? Thank you.


Andrea Butje March 12, 2015 at 8:27 am

Hi Mang,
helichrysum is a wonderful essential oil for cuts and bruises. I am sorry but I have never seen any research on this and am not a medical professional so can not recommend anything for such a serious health condition. I would suggest seeing an acupuncturist.


Dee September 18, 2015 at 1:41 pm

Hello Andrea,

Thank you for such an informative article. I’ve read on various internet sites that Helichrysum essential oil is an effective treatment for tinnitus. Do you agree? If so, which of the above types of Helichrysum would you recommend? Is it okay to use Helichrysum in a nebuliser as well as topically around the ear and on cotton wool inside the ear? Thanking you in advance. Dee


Andrea Butje September 22, 2015 at 10:48 am

Hi Dee – I would recommend Helichrysum italicum, and Frankincense. It may help to reduce the discomfort, although it may not resolve the issue. It’s fine to use a diffuser or apply it around the back of the ear, but we do not recommend using any oils inside the ear.


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