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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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Andrea Butje June 21, 2017 at 9:51 am

Hi Nick!
Making suppositories does require advanced and precise knowledge of essential oil chemistry and physiology and we can’t advise on the oils to use, as each situation is different. At Aromahead we teach topical use, inhalation, diffusion, and (when appropriate) neat use of the oils.

I do think all the Helichrysum species are very healing, although they are different from each other in safety and therapeutic properties, and we can see that when we look at each oils chemistry. Learning about the chemistry of essential oils is really exciting and it’s part of the chemistry component in our Aromatherapy Certification if you are interested in learning more:


robby May 1, 2017 at 3:20 pm

How do I mix with (drops plus carrier oil to use) if I want to apply this to my face every night? Looking for antiaging and lightening of age spots. Thank you!


Andrea Butje May 2, 2017 at 9:54 am

Hi Robby!
I like to use hydrosols, natural butters and carriers for the face – on their own they can be very skin nourishing. I prefer less essential oils on my face as they can be drying, but using essential oils on the face is always personal preference. I find a drop or two of essential oil (in 1oz of carrier) is fine – just enough to add a nice aroma to the blend.

While essential oils are not likely to heal sun damage/age spots Helichrysum hydrosol would be as a facial toner.Usually thicker moisturizing carrier oils – like Avocado oil, Jojoba oil or Baobab Seed Oil – are good for mature skin.

I do find that each person may respond differently to oils and butters on their face so it’s always best to try just a little and see how it goes. And since it’s very individual, I like to recommend a book by Len Price called “Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage”. It’s a wonderful resource to look up the properties of carriers to decide what would be best for your face – each carrier has different properties.

You can find Len’s book here with all the books I love: http://astore.amazon.com/wwwaromaticsi-20/detail/1874353026


robby May 4, 2017 at 10:22 pm

WOW! Thank you so much for all this great information. I really appeciate your time?


Linda April 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Requesting suggestions for use 4 months after total knee replacement. The issue is swelling and pain. No infection, implant or bone problems as verified by blood tests and radiologic studies. I used this essential oil in the past for cervical dystopia and fibromyalgia pain. Thanks


Andrea Butje April 28, 2017 at 11:07 am

Hi Linda!
I have a recipe here on the blog that can offer you some relief:


Let me know how it goes.


MIchael March 28, 2017 at 3:58 pm

What role does α-Pinene have in Helichrysum Italicum. Is there a preferred level? Is a level of 34% better than a level of 20-25%? Thank you.


Andrea Butje March 29, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Hi Michael,
Since essential oils are extracted from plants, we can never expect to see consistent levels of components from batch to batch. There is really no “better” chemical make up.

When blending from a component perspective, we just have to look over at the whole GC/MS report and decide if that oil will address the goals/intention of our blend. a-pinene has been well research and shows some great activity that suggests that when present in an essential oil at the percentages you mentioned above, it may help with reducing swelling, calming tightness, and reducing microbes.


Kristen February 15, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Andrea, I’m so happy I found this post! I fell in love with Helichrysum italicum after experimenting with it in my certification kit & can’t wait to try the others!


Andrea Butje February 15, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Kristen, it is so interesting to compare different species of oils. Keep in touch – I’d love to hear what you discover!


Jeff Lee March 11, 2016 at 3:24 am

Aloha Andrea from the Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood forests on The Big Island. So great reading about Helychrysm. Since you last visit we’ve found Helichrysm Foetydium in the forest itself. We’ve distilled and are enjoying the cool fragrance of the Hydrosol & oil both. Yet to test it but will send you some to enjoy, test or both. Unless of course you’d like to come back and see and enjoy it here in Kona!
Sure enjoyed having you both here several years ago for the sandalwood forest tour. The property is now certified organic & the forest boasts millions of native species all less than 6 years old. Appreciate Aromahead’s early support of our reforestation project.
Look forward to you next visit.

Jeff Lee
Haloa Aina


Andrea Butje March 12, 2016 at 10:41 am

Aloha, Jeff! So good to hear from you. Yes, I would love a sample of your Helichrysum! I am hoping to visit sometime next year. I so enjoyed the beautiful forest and can’t wait to see how much it’s grown. 🙂


Charles February 21, 2016 at 1:37 am

Hello Andrea,
I have been using a combination of essential oils to help with neuropathic pain in my feet. After reading your article I’m considering using bracteiferum and gymnocephalum in a mixture. Does this sound reasonable given the properties you described for each variety of Helichrysum? Thank you!


Andrea Butje February 22, 2016 at 10:10 am

Hi Charles – that sounds great! I would use trauma oil as the carrier. Let me know how it goes 🙂


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.


Adele November 28, 2016 at 12:26 pm

Hi Andrea, I’ve also read up quite a bit about a treatment for Tinnitus for a dear friend who’s having a hard time with this and is looking for relief. The Helichrysum I have on hand is Splendidum. I’ve blended 5 drops of it with Cypress (7 drops), Juniper berry (7 drops), Lavender (7 drops) and then topped off the 1/2 oz bottle with fractionated coconut oil. What is your opinion on this blend? I just gave it to her today so she hasn’t tried it yet. Thank you.


Andrea Butje November 28, 2016 at 10:44 pm

Hi Adele!
It is worth a try for sure and is a great blend although I have not had success with oils and Tinnitus so would love to know how it goes. I would also recommend using 1 oz of the coconut oil for that much essential oil.


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.


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).


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.


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