Curry Herb: Applications, Treatments, Health Benefits

Italian immortelle (Helichrysum italicum) is also known as curry herb. Other names include The Immortal, Sun Gold, Italian Immortelle, Italian Sun Gold and Curry Bush. The shrubby plant belongs to the genus of strawflowers (Helichrysum). In total, this plant species records 600 different genera.

Occurrence and cultivation of the Italian strawflower.

The ancient Greeks and Romans already knew how to appreciate its healing properties. Folk medicine used the sun gold for various women’s ailments, urinary problems and snakebites. The curry herb lives up to its name, because it is a shrub-like plant that captivates with its bright yellow color and smells pleasantly of curry. Not only is the Italian strawflower popular as a herb and spice, but it is also used as a medicinal plant. Due to its appearance, its umbelliferous total inflorescence and basket-shaped partial inflorescence, it belongs to the composite plant family (Asteraceae) and the order of asteraceae. The capitulum is bell-shaped and golden yellow, the bracts are arranged in the form of roof tiles in several rows. It originates from the Mediterranean region and has not been known in Central Europe for very long. The name Italian strawflower is somewhat misleading, as the wild plant populations are native to Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and southern European countries. So it does not come exclusively from Italy. If it didn’t have the bright yellow color, curryweed would be a fairly inconspicuous plant. It is an evergreen semi-shrub that grows up to seventy centimeters tall and bushy. It has slender roots and, as the vernacular name sun gold suggests, feels at home in sunny places. The leaves are silvery-gray or silvery-green and taper to a point in a lancet and needle-like shape. Visually, they resemble the leaves of rosemary or lavender. Italian strawflower contains various essential oils that are responsible for the aromatic curry scent. Fresh rain intensifies the fragrance. The stem (shoot axis) runs unstable at first and becomes more woody as the plant gets older. The fruits contain brown and oval seeds. However, the sun-loving Mediterranean plant does not make great demands on its location. The soil must be low humus, sandy and have good irrigation (drainage), but waterlogging is not desirable.

Effect and application

In German cuisine, curry herb is less known, while in Mediterranean countries it is a very popular spice. The plant should not be confused with curry powder, which consists of coriander, cardamom, pepper, cumin and nutmeg. Italian strawflower has received the popular name curry herb only because of its appearance, yellow color and typical smell of curry. However, it is also known as a medicinal herb in northern latitudes. The ancient Greeks and Romans already appreciated its healing properties. In the medieval herbal books it was listed as Helichrysum, although its healing power was not so well known at that time. Folk medicine used sun gold for various women’s ailments, urinary problems and snakebites. Modern methods of naturopathy also appreciate the yellow half-shrub plant for its many ingredients. They have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antibacterial, expectorant, antifungal, relaxing, decongestant and wound healing effects. Curry herb is used for cough, bronchitis, for wound cleansing, mild depression, nervous restlessness, skin problems such as impurities, itching and eczema, hemorrhoids and bruises. The plant components of Italian strawflower are processed as ointment and used against all kinds of skin problems. Flavonoids and essential oils are responsible for healing effects. In cosmetic products such as moisturizing sprays, the components of the curry herb are also used. A tea prepared from the dried flowers and leaves of the plant is effective against cold symptoms. Two teaspoons of curry herb are used for 250 milliliters of water. Pharmacies also offer Italian strawflower as a ready-made herbal mixture. Plant-based essential oil is very popular. It is sold under the name of organic helichrysum.Known as immortelle oil, it is used in aromatherapy and is sometimes called arnica due to its anti-inflammatory effect. The oil proves itself in skin inflammations and bruises and records hemolytic properties that have a strong cell renewal and skin and tissue regenerating effect. Responsible for this are the sesquiterpene ketones contained in the oil. Immortelle oil can be safely applied to the skin in its pure form, which distinguishes it from most of its “colleagues”, as these oils are normally not allowed to come into contact with the human organism in an unprocessed form under any circumstances

Importance for health, treatment and prevention.

The curry herb is safe to use and therefore not toxic. For this reason, the sun gold is very popular both as a spice plant and in natural medicine. Homeopathy also appreciates the versatile plant due to its highly effective ingredients tannin, glycosides, flavonoids, essential oils and naringenins. Helichrysum italicum is a plant with many beneficial properties that can be used even by people without special herbal knowledge. However, the simplest form of application is homeopathic remedies as globules, tablets or ointment. Ointments based on immortelle are excellent against hemorrhoids and quickly fade scars. The essential oil has also proven to be an effective remedy against frostbite in winter and sunburn in summer. Italian strawflower is processed to produce the essential oil in the area of Piedmont, Italy, in organic distilleries and then put on the market. For aromatherapy, the oil of the curry bush is an important natural remedy that has a positive effect on the overall well-being, as well as on chronic complaints such as cough and bronchitis.