Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum)
I discovered Helichrysum when I got introduced to the world of essential oils. Though quite expensive in this form, it can still be enjoyed in other ways if you grow it in your garden as I started my patch a couple years ago before I even knew what I had. All I knew at the time was I was drawn to the enticingly rich peppery sweet smell of this wonderful herb in the local nursery and took it home because it resembled rosemary. After doing more research, I realized why the smell was so enchanting to me, one of my favorite oils was distilled from this herb and it was not related to rosemary at all.
Though one of the common names for this plant is curry plant due to the fragrance of the leaves, this plant does not have anything to do with producing the spice curry found in Asian dishes. Helichrysum actually comes from the daisy family Asteraceae and the leaves have a silvery grayish green color. This herb can become a small shrub and does retain the beautiful silver-green appearance. When it flowers, they are very vibrant little golden yellow clusters. The essential oil is much sought after and can be awfully expensive due to the nature of distilling which derives from distilling the flowers, large amounts of them hence the hefty price tag. I greatly anticipate helichrysum flowers that do bloom in my garden but am also just as content with what the leaves have to offer because I use everything about this herb from recipes in skin care remedies and in the kitchen.
Though not a traditional culinary herb, I enjoy this herb in moderation because it is incredibly unique. Not only do I enjoy using fresh helichrysum in marinades and cooking, but also helichrysum infused oil is another way to add this flavor into your recipes. The flavor of fresh helichrysum can enhance cauliflower, potatoes, pork, and try substituting it for any of your recipes with rosemary for an extra kick. I do dry helichrysum for use during the winter and keep a batch aside for the apothecary pantry as well. (Try this amazing Helichrysum inspired pork roast recipe)
Harvesting helichrysum in the garden can occur all year for culinary use. You can harvest leaves up until they flower, then harvest the flower right when only some are opening. It is important to distill the flowers very soon after harvest to get the most from the helichrysum constituents for essential oils. This herb also attracts beneficial insects to your garden, is beautiful to admire, and smells amazing after a rain shower.
Ageless Apothecary uses helichrysum in some of our skincare creams and balms because it contains anti-aging properties. Great for anti-aging skin regimens to treat wrinkles, dark circles, skin pigmentation, and oxidative skin damage. Helichrysum oil nurtures the natural glow of the skin, support multiplication of collagen count, and improves cellular regeneration. This oil also treats raw chapped skin and burns because it is a natural emollient and retains moisture to prevent the development of cracks. (Ameen)
This year is the launch of our ‘Heal-a-chrysum Skin Soothing Balm’ which is a great addition to our permanent product line (as long as my Helichrysum plants keep producing). This wonder herb has properties which may speed up wound healing, cuts, bruises, stretch marks and scar tissue. It has been known to be beneficial to ease bruises and varicose veins as well and so having this balm is good to have readily available in your herbal first aid kit.
Enjoy the spiritual benefits of helichrysum for its mood uplifting scent to relieve trauma and reduce stress. The oil is great for meditation practice and is my ‘go to’ oil (besides sandalwood) when I want to pamper myself and relax. I am excited to share what this herb can do and there will be more to this collection as the infusions and tinctures become mature in the apothecary cabinet.
Ameen, Nahid. "Ayurvedic Benefits of Helichrysum Essential Oil." Conscioushealth.net, Conscious Health, 26 July 2014, conscioushealth.net/ayurvedic-benefits-of-helichrysum-essential-oil/.