Despite the image of aromatherapy as lacking in scientific foundation in the United States, the use of pure therapeutic-grade essential oil for medical applications is common in much of Europe. The essential oil distilled from the flowers of Helichrysum Italicum is well known for its wide range of actions, which can contribute to the healing of many common sports-related injuries. Compounds in essential oil are known to prevent and relieve blood clotting (useful for bruising), stimulate tissue regeneration, act as a powerful antioxidant, and can reduce inflammation. This combination of many effects helps with injuries such as strains and sprains, bruises, tendonitis, and the like. Any dedicated athlete would greatly appreciate such an effective and non-toxic alternative healing remedy!
From a scientific point of view, the alternative medicine aspects of aromatherapy deal with the interaction of a wide range of natural plant chemicals with human physiological systems. Each essential oil has many, sometimes hundreds, of individual chemical components. These often work together to provide a synergy of effects, a result that is greater than the application of each phytochemical alone. A great example is the combination of chemical compounds in Eucalyptus Radiata essential oil; It has been called an ‘aromatherapist designer oil’ due to its blend of antiviral, expectorant and anti-inflammatory components, plus a pleasant aroma that makes it useful. in treating certain types of cold symptoms. Helichrysum Italicum contains great synergy in its own way: its chemical components are known to reduce inflammation, signal tissue regeneration, remove clotted blood, relax tissues, and reduce pain.
Before we address the possible effects of Helichrysum essential oil on sprains, strains, and other sports injuries, let’s look at the root of these painful conditions. Take, for example, a sprained ankle in a basketball game: what has happened physiologically? The connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) have been stretched beyond their normal length; these tissues have suffered “micro-tears”, which is damage to the actual structure of connective tissue cells. Some of these cells are so damaged that they die and need to be cultured again. There is often additional swelling and bruising involved, which is usually the leakage of blood from the damaged capillaries into the intracellular space. This results in a loss of blood supply to surrounding cells and the blockage of nutrients, oxygen, and waste products moving to and from those cells. This, in fact, leads to cell damage beyond the primary damage to connective tissue cells. Here more cell death occurs, not only directly due to the loss of nutrient / waste exchange of these cells, but also due to an increase in the activity of oxidative radicals. The greater the amount of “ secondary ” injury that occurs, the longer the recovery time; Here, you can see why applying ice to an injury soon after it occurs can speed healing; the amount of blood that clots (bruises) in an area is reduced and the metabolic activity (and the production of oxidative radicals) in cells is reduced with a loss of nutrient supply; therefore, the primary injury is accompanied by less secondary cell damage and death.
The synergistic effects of the compounds found in Helichrysum oil directly address the physiological processes involved in such injuries. First, the anti-inflammatory and anticoagulant effects reduce secondary damage (which occurs in acute injuries or, for example, just after a training spike that has led to a chronic injury flare-up). The antioxidant properties also prevent further cell damage from occurring. Analgesic effects are a nice addition, possibly reducing the need for oral pain relievers of questionable toxicity. Finally, the tissue regeneration effects help all damaged tissue to grow back and can even help prevent scars from cuts and open wounds.
In ‘Medical Aromatherapy’, Dr. Schnaubelt indicates that the effects of many essential oils cannot be fully explained by the actions of their individual components; the effects of many oils are greater than the sum of their parts. The synergy of the Helichrysum components produces a particularly sensational healing result. A recent user of the oil, who had been a professional triathlete, then a cyclist, then a “casual” marathoner, had chronic Achilles tendon pain. Overuse, and perhaps a stiff clutch on an old car, leads you to believe that despite your excellent physical condition, you will not be able to participate in a major marathon ahead. The wound ached every time he ran; had been an advocate for alternative therapies for many years, with some success using DMSO for tendon-related inflammation. He hadn’t found DMSO (often used on racehorses for similar injuries) to be as effective in chronic as acute injuries, and this Achilles problem was no different – nothing helped fast enough where he knew he could do the race. For the first time, he tried Helichrysum essential oil, applying it undiluted (Helichrysum is very well tolerated this way) to the area twice a day. In two days, he was running without pain and achieved his personal best in the marathon event.
In this case, the application of Helichrysum reduced pain (and probably also inflammation) in the area and supported the regeneration of damaged tendon tissues. The essential oil should prove just as effective in acute injuries as well: the ability to reduce blood clotting is highlighted, along with its anti-inflammatory and tissue regenerative properties, giving it a seemingly complete natural arsenal to speed healing in most of sports related to sports. injuries. In fact, this could extend to a wide variety of trauma injuries, although great care should be taken when using it as an adjunct to proper allopathic medical care in such cases.
If you decide to try the oil yourself, make sure your source and variety is the correct one discussed here. The oil is appropriate for a variety of injuries, minor to major, although, of course, it is not a substitute for proper medical care in any way. The use of oil while driving with a prescribed therapy should be discussed with your physician. The literature states that the oil is very well tolerated and can be applied directly to the skin without dilution. It is best to apply a thin film several times a day, as soon as chronic pain is noted or an acute injury occurs. The oil can be used on broken or damaged skin; in fact, it is included in formulas to reduce scar formation along with rosehip and hazelnut oils (a 5% dilution of Helichrysum in a 50/50 blend of these two base oils can be used to support wound healing ). As with any therapy, be aware of how your body is responding to treatment and consult a medical professional if you have questions or concerns about its use. In summary, Helichrysum italicum essential oil is a mild topical treatment that can accelerate the healing of many common sports-related injuries. It is considered a very safe oil and is worth a try if you need such support.