(Natural News) Helichrysum italicum is a flowering shrub that belongs to the large and widespread Asteraceae (daisy) family. It is commonly known as the curry plant because of the strong, curry-like smell of its leaves. Despite this, the curry plant is not typically used for culinary purposes because of its strong bitter flavor. Its flowers, however, are used to make herbal tea.
The curry plant is widely used in traditional medicine, especially in the Mediterranean region where it grows. Studies have found that this plant has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anticoagulant and anxiolytic properties. In particular, the essential oil extracted from the curry plant is widely used in aromatherapy to relieve stress and anxiety. It is also used as a natural remedy for burned skin, fungal infections, cough and fever.
In a recent study, Italian researchers reported another use for curry plant essential oil. Apart from identifying the active components present in it, they also found that the oil has biological properties that can help deter skin aging. The researchers discussed their findings in an article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
The anti-aging effects of curry plant essential oil
To analyze the phytochemical composition of the essential oil extracted from the aerial parts of the curry plant, the researchers used gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry, which allowed them to identify 78 different phytochemicals. These chemicals accounted for 98.71 percent of the whole essential oil composition.
Of the 78 compounds, the researchers found the following to be the most abundant constituents of curry plant essential oil:
- Neryl acetate, 15.75 percent
- a-Pinene, 8.21 percent
- 4,6,9-Trimethyl-8-decene-3,5-dione (italidione I), 7.34 percent
- a-Curcumene and B-selinene, 5.37 percent
- y-Curcumene, 4.83 percent
- Nerol, 4.75 percent
- a-Selinene, 4.68 percent
- Limonene, 4.55 percent
- Linalool, 4.42 percent
- 2,4,6,9-Tetramethyl-8-decene-3,5-dione (italidione II), 4.26 percent
Most importantly, the researchers found that the curry plant essential oil inhibited the activities of two important enzymes, namely, collagenase and elastase, in vitro. Collagenase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down collagen. Expression of this enzyme increases with age and is said to be a huge contributor to the age-related loss of skin elasticity.
Elastase, on the other hand, is an enzyme made by special cells in the pancreas to facilitate the breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Elastase plays a huge role in wrinkle formation since it is directly involved in the degeneration of elastic fibers in the skin. These elastic fibers provide elastic stretch and recoil to the skin.
When the researchers tested these compounds alone or in combination with each other against collagenase and elastase, they found that neryl acetate, nerol and linalool showed no inhibitory activity against the two enzymes. Only a-pinene and limonene — alone or combined — showed anti-collagenase and anti-elastase activities.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that curry plant essential oil has beneficial properties that can be used to fight skin aging. (Related: Could a simple vitamin be an anti-aging tool?)
Other uses of curry plant essential oil
According to in vitro and in vivo studies, curry plant essential oil can be used to accelerate wound healing, treat microbial skin infections and reduce inflammation. Some reports also suggest that it can stimulate enzymes that help dissolve blood clots caused by internal bleeding. In aromatherapy, curry plant essential oil is known for its stress- and anxiety-reducing effects.
Here are some other discovered uses of curry plant essential oil:
- Reduces allergy symptoms, particularly contact dermatitis
- Helps fight colds and coughs
- Relieves digestive issues, such as stomachaches, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating and constipation
- Reduces gallbladder inflammation and associated pain
- Stops the growth of a wide range of bacteria
- Prevents the growth of candida
Curry plant essential oil is an effective natural remedy for a wide range of ailments, including bacterial and fungal infections. It also has natural anti-aging properties that can stop the signs of skin aging. To maximize the benefits of this powerful oil, consult a natural health practitioner before use.
You can learn about other essential oils with similar properties at EssentialOils.news.