Protection Kit for Summer and Beyond, Part 1: Helichrysum

I can’t promise you that there really is a cure for the summertime blues… but I can tell you that there are essential oils that will help protect you and your family!

It seems like every year, there’s a new insect-borne illness that threatens major damage, like EEE, West Nile, and Zika viruses (and that’s just mosquitos!). The best thing you can do for yourself and your family isn’t locking yourselves in an underground bunker, but being prepared with safe, natural, and powerful insect repellents.

Of course that isn’t the only summer woe, with sunburns and heat rash and other skin irritants. But you bet there’s an essential oil to help you cope with that too!

And then there’s sinus and respiratory trouble. Respiratory threats come in all shapes and sizes, from goldenrod pollen, to mold, to our beloved (and hairy) pets. Supporting the immune system and the respiratory system are crucial to dealing with the root of the issue.

With that in mind, stay tuned for a series on essential oils that will support, soothe, and promote your health so you can get on with the last hurrahs of summer, and head into fall confident, clear-headed, and healthy. We’ll cover TerraSheild, Purify, Lavender, Basil, and Helichrysum essential oils in this series.

Let’s get started with…

Helichrysum italicum

Part of this wonderful flower’s name comes from the Greek word for “gold” (chrysos), which is no surprise, given the bright golden clusters at the top of helichrysum’s stalks. Helichrysum essential oil is used as a fixative in perfumes, meaning it can help stabilize stronger scents and make the overall perfume last longer. It has a scent profile that has notes of bitter herb, sweet honey, and fresh hay. Sounds like a perfect summer-fall scent to add to diffuser blends!

You can incorporate helichrysum into your rescue kit as a topical blemish relief oil. Bug bites? Sweat rash? Break outs? Sunburn? Helichrysum is here for you. One of the primary components in in essential oil of helichrysum is alpha-pinene, which was shown in a research paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology to have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.

Try a drop over an area that needs soothing, but avoid putting directly on broken skin, since essential oils are highly concentrated and broken skin is extra delicate. To help minimize possible sensitivity, it’s recommended that you dilute one to two drops of essential oil in a little fractionated coconut oil. Coconut oil is considered a “carrier oil”, which will distribute essential oils safely over the skin, so strong concentrations don’t cause irritation.

If you suffer from seasonal air quality issues, or have other respiratory difficulties, you may want to try a regimen of 2 drops of helichrysum per every 8oz of water twice a day for a week to support your respiratory health and see how you feel. (Bonus: this will help you drink more water!) It’s wise to talk to your doctor before starting any long-term therapy, herbal or otherwise, so keep notes during your week trial to share with your doctor.

The same report which noted alpha-pinene’s anti-inflammatory properties also proposed that it functions as a bronchodilator, which in regular-people speak means it helps increase airflow to the lungs. If you find it does help you breathe a little easier, keep some on hand! A drop or two may help provide relief in times when your breathing feels restricted.

A side note: if you happen to see a tall plant by the road side, with clusters of bright yellow flowers, you may think you’ve stumbled on a free source of helichrysum, but proceed with caution. Tansy is a very common plant within the US which can grow in almost any conditions and looks similar to helichrysum, but is from a different family, and has different properties. Although it’s nice to have around and safe to handle, its internal safety is a matter of debate among herbalists, and I cannot recommend ingesting it. However, you can pick lovely bouquets of these sunny button flowers to brighten up a room. They have a lovely scent and are also said to repel bugs. The flower heads dry to a deep, lovely brown, and should be sturdy enough to include in a fall wreath! They also maintain some scent after drying. How fun is that?

(image source: wikimedia commons)

Helichrysum italicum (image source: wikimedia commons)

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Tanacetum vulgare (image source: wikimedia commons)

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