Anti-age term is one of the most used terms in today’s marketing strategies for cosmetic industry. But long time before those trends, our grandmothers had only one thing, nature. In between rocky meadows of the Mediterranean lands, from Herzegovina all the way to Korčula, Sicily and Corsica islands, in the late spring, under the scorching sun millions of little suns bloom. Yellow flowers of helichrysum italicum, shy and full of dignity, occupied the attention of our ancestors by their amazing scent. The plant is not called immortelle for nothing. Every year it blossoms into places where only rare plants can survive, proudly blooming in its immortality. Just like a contrabassoon in Mahler symphonies, immortelle with its lively yellow blossoms gave life to the homes of Herzegovina and Dalmatia and gave timeless beauty to skin of many generations of women.
The Immortelle is mostly used in cosmetic products nowadays, but herbalists have been using it for other purposes for centuries. There are many plants in the Helichrysum family, but the most famous is Helichrysum italicum – a plant which belongs to the large Asteraceae family, to which many aromatic and healing types belong, like the Roman and German chamomile, as well as the yarrow. The Immortelle usually blossoms and is harvested in May.
The most used parts of the plant are its flowers which are used to produce the essential oil. The flowers are also used in phytotherapy, along with its leaves. The flowers and leaves of the immortelle contain strong, bitter substances, as well as phthalates and flavonols. This is the reason why Immortelle tea has a bitter taste, despite its almost perfume-like smell. The Immortelle tea is similar to the lavender tea, which also has a pleasant smell, but a bitter and uncomfortable taste.
Still, the Immortelle oil has a lot of advantages, one of which is that it is very beneficial to the stomach, as it boosts the secretion of stomach juices (gastric) as well as the secretion of digestive enzymes from the pancreas. This is why it is ideal for people with digestive problems.
In phytotherapy, another plant is commonly used, and that is dwarf immortelle (Helichrysum arenarium). It has been praised by some authors more than a better known Immortelle (Helichrysum italicum).