The helichrysum (or Helichrysum italicum according to its scientific name), is an evergreen plant that can be found in Europe. It is a plant that flowers in the summer season and reaches around 30 cm in height. This herbaceous plant that is found mainly on arid and sandy soils, is used both in phytotherapy and as a component in the cosmetic and perfume industry. The helichrysum, which stands out for its bright yellow flowers, grows mainly in the southern area, and in fact is widely present in Italy, and is a plant that arises spontaneously. Helichrysum is used for phytotherapeutic purposes in various forms and is indicated above all for its sedative capacity, for the power to stimulate blood circulation, as an anti-inflammatory and cough remedy. In cosmetics, on the other hand, helichrysum is mainly used as an ingredient for creams suitable for oily skin and a remedy for acne. The benefits of helichrysum are numerous and it is a natural remedy that can be purchased in herbal medicine, alone or in addition to other herbs. No side effects related to the use of this plant are reported. A curiosity: the name helichrysum derives from elios, or sun, a way to indicate the color of flowers that shine at most when illuminated by the sun. For this characteristic, moreover, the helichrysum was also called Zolfino. Today, however, there are different dialectal variants that are used to call the helichrysum. Among the most common zipro, fior di roch, but also canapicchia, semprevivu and brotamo.
Helichrysum is a perennial plant that prefers warm and dry places. It is for this reason that it is widespread in Italy, especially in the hottest and driest areas, sometimes even skirting the beach and the pine forest. The discovery of the beneficial and therapeutic properties of this evergreen plant owes to a Garfagnana doctor, a certain L. Santini, who studied and published his first discoveries a few years before 1950. The first experiments succeeded in demonstrating the plant's ability to treating respiratory infections, such as bones, colds and bronchitis, but also those of the skin, such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, chilblains and acne. Another peculiarity of this plant with its brilliant flowers is its particularly strong and pungent smell. The plant, in fact, is entirely covered by a small and dense white hair that produces a typical and easily recognizable fragrance. The helichrysum belongs to the Asteracae (Compositae) family and it is only the flowering tops that are used for phytotherapy and cosmetics. The harvest takes place in the summer period, between June and August, and only the leaves and flowers are cut, leaving the branches intact instead. The collected parts are then dried in the dark.
Helichrysum is used in herbal medicine and cosmetics. The plant is rich in numerous substances, such as flavonoids, nerol, caprylic acid, isovaleric, phthalides, essential oils, tannins, linalool and other elements, which make it absolutely suitable for different purposes. Since its discovery it has been used for its anti-inflammatory properties, especially for the respiratory tract. Helichrysum is useful in case of colds, but also more serious problems such as coughs and bronchitis. In fact, this plant has bechice properties, ie it is capable of acting as a natural version of codeine, a component present in syrups and cough remedies that have expectorant and sedative abilities. In some cases, the helichrysum is also prescribed with aerosol, especially for treating chronic respiratory diseases, asthma and allergic disorders. As an anti-inflammatory for the skin, on the other hand, extracts of helichrysum are found in calming ointments, creams for oily skin and anti-comedogen, but also for treating chilblains and hemorrhoids. Due to its characteristics, helichrysum extracts are also found in many sunscreens. The helichrysum has excellent sedative properties and in some cases it is also useful for arthritis, rheumatic pain and headaches. Furthermore, it stimulates and improves circulation, being thus suitable for treating disorders such as varicose veins and the microcirculation, especially in the lower limbs.
The helichrysum can be used for internal use, as an expectorant, a cough and anti-inflammatory remedy, leaving about two grams of dried flowers to infuse for 10 minutes in a glass of boiling water. Once the drink is filtered, drink at least two three cups during the day. For external use, on the other hand, you can make an ecotto to be applied to inflamed skin or add everything to olive oil for a mother tincture to be diluted and rubbed on irritated skin. Moreover, the dried flowers can be left to soak in the water in the bath or in a glass with which to rinse the face: the result is a skin immediately toned, smooth and free of signs due to irritation.