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Helichrysum Essential Oil – A Natural Means to Speed Healing of Many Common Sports Injuries
Despite the image of aromatherapy as devoid of scientific basis in the United States, the use of pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils 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 promote the healing of many common sports-related injuries. Compounds in the essential oil are known to prevent and relieve blood clotting (useful for bruises), stimulate tissue regeneration, act as a powerful antioxidant, and reduce inflammation. This combination of effects helps a lot with injuries such as twists and sprains, bruises, tendonitis and others. Any dedicated athlete would greatly appreciate such a non-toxic and effective alternative healing remedy!
From a scientific perspective, 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 is made up of many, sometimes hundreds, of individual chemical constituents. These often work in concert to provide a synergy of effects – a result superior to applying each phytochemical alone. A good example is the combination of chemical compounds in eucalyptus radiata essential oil – it has been called an “aromatherapists designer oil” due to its blend of antiviral, expectorant and anti-inflammatory components, as well as ‘pleasant aroma, which makes it useful. in the treatment of certain types of cold symptoms. Helichrysum Italicum contains great synergy in its own way – its chemical constituents are known to reduce inflammation, signal tissue regeneration, remove clotted blood, relax tissues and reduce pain.
Before discussing the possible effects of Helichrysum essential oil on sprains, strains and other sports injuries, let’s look at the origin of these painful conditions. Take, for example, a twisted ankle in a basketball game – what happened physiologically? Connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) have been stretched beyond their normal length; these tissues have suffered “micro-tears”, that is to say damage to the very structure of the cells of the connective tissue. Some of these cells are so damaged that they die and need to be regenerated. There is often additional swelling and bruising involved, which is usually the leakage of blood from damaged capillaries into the intracellular space. This leads to a loss of blood supply to surrounding cells and a blockage of nutrients, oxygen and waste products moving to and from these cells. This actually leads to cellular damage beyond the primary damage to connective tissue cells. More cell death occurs here, not only directly due to loss of nutrient/waste exchange for these cells, but also due to increased oxidative radical activity. The more ‘secondary’ injuries that occur the longer the recovery time – here we can see why applying ice to an injury soon after it occurs can speed healing – this reduces the amount of blood that coagulates (bruises) in an area, and reduces metabolic activity (and oxidative radical production) in cells with loss of nutrient supply – hence less secondary cell damage and death accompanies primary injury.
The synergistic effects of compounds found in helichrysum oil directly address the physiological processes involved in such injuries. First, the anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant effects reduce secondary damage (occurring during acute injuries or, for example, right after a workout that caused a chronic injury flare). The antioxidant properties also prevent further cell damage from occurring. The analgesic effects are a nice addition, perhaps reducing the need for oral painkillers of questionable toxicity. Finally, the tissue regenerating effects help regrow any damaged tissue and can even help prevent scarring 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 components of helichrysum produces a particularly sensational healing result. A recent user of the oil, who had been a professional triathlete, then cyclist, then an “occasional” marathoner, suffered from chronic Achilles tendon pain. Excessive use – and possibly a stiff clutch on an old car – led him to believe that despite being in excellent physical shape, he couldn’t compete in an upcoming major marathon. The injury hurt every time he ran; he had been a proponent of 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 on chronic injuries as on acute injuries, and this Achilles problem was no different – nothing was helping fast enough where he knew he could 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. Within two days he was running pain free and achieved a personal best in the marathon.
In this case, the application of Helichrysum reduced pain (and probably inflammation as well) in the area and promoted the regeneration of damaged tendon tissue. The essential oil should prove equally effective for acute wounds – its ability to reduce blood clotting, as well as its anti-inflammatory and tissue regenerative properties give it a seemingly complete natural arsenal to speed up healing in most cases. sports-related cases. wounds. In fact, it could extend to a very wide variety of traumas, although care should be taken to use it alongside appropriate allopathic medical care in such cases.
If you decide to try the oil for yourself, make sure you source it and that the variety is correct, the one discussed here. The oil is suitable for a range of injuries – minor to major – although it is in no way a substitute for proper medical attention. The use of conduction oil with prescribed treatment should be discussed with your doctor. The literature indicates that the oil is very well tolerated and can be applied directly to the skin undiluted. Application of a thin film a few times a day, as soon as chronic pain is noticed or an acute injury occurs, is preferable. The oil can be used on broken or damaged skin – in fact, it is included in formulas to reduce scarring with Rosehip and Hazelnut Oils (a 5% dilution of Helichrysum in a 50 /50 of these two base oils can be used to promote healing). As with any therapy, be aware of how your body responds to treatment and consult a healthcare professional with any questions or concerns regarding its use. In summary, Helichrysum italicum essential oil is a gentle topical treatment that can speed the healing of many common sports-related injuries. It is considered a very safe oil and is worth trying if you need such support.
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