By Hwaa Irfan
Chamomile is one of the longest used medicinal plants. Chamomile was used as a febrifuge by Pharoanic Egypt, and was regarded as the plant’s physician, keeping other plants in good health. In Slovakia, the elders say that one should bow out of respect when facing a chamomile plant, because of its long beneficial history as a medicine.
All chamomiles used in aromatherapy come under the family of the plant kingdom, Compositae. As a Compositae, as Lavabre puts it, “they live in all terrestrial domains except the far north, seashores, mountain tops, deserts and swamps, with a preference for open spaces and a wide expanse of sunlight.” In other words, Compositae enjoys diversity, which is represented by the many species, and the abundant tiny flowers they produce as a form of expression.
Anthemis nobilis, is referred to as Common Chamomile, and is profuse in English gardens, it is a low growing creeping perennial plant, with tufts of leaves and flowers that grow a foot high. The roots are fibrous, and the stems are hairy producing leaves that divide in fine segments. The flower blooms in the late summer with a ray of white florets, centered by daisy-like yellow. The flowers of German Chamomile matricaria chamomilia are 3-4 inches wide, and are quite similar in appearance to Corn Chamomile, Anthemis arvensis. German Chamomile has a strong smell, is more bitter, more medicinal, but is less aromatic than Common Chamomile.
Chamomile became popular again, due to the bioactive constituent, chamazulene, which forms in the process of distillation. German Chamomile (matricaria chamomilia) essential oil is extracted from the through a process of steam distillation. It has an inky-blue viscous appearance, and has a warm herbaceous smell, and contains more chamazulene.
Roman Chamomile is distilled from the dried flowers of Chamaemelum nobile. It is used in the bodycare industry for its skin healing properties. It is pale blue-green-yellow, and liquidy, with a warm, sweet, but fruity herbaceous smell. Both Roman and Common Chamomile is mainly produced by Belgium, France, Italy, U.K. and the U.S. Moroccan chamomile is steam distilled from the wild growing perennial Ormenis mixta/multicolis. It has a refreshing aroma with balsamic overtones, and is pale yellow in color, leaning towards brown. Blue Chamomile is extracted from the German Chamomile, and is mainly produced in Eastern Europe, England, Hungary, and Spain; German Chamomile is cultivated in Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Spain, Russia, and Nepal.
Adulteration can occur by the addition of fractions of chamomile, isobutyl angelate, and biasbolols thus compromising the therapeutic value. To avoid such a purchase, it is best to identify a manufacturer/brand whose quality and standards that are assured. Also they will state on the label the botanical/Latin name as it is established the main three types of Chamomile oil are used for therapeutic purposes. Nobilis and Anthemis have different shaped scales between each floret. Small flies like to frequent the Common Chamomile. The medicinal properties of the wild Chamomile, Ormenis mixta/multicolis is considered to be more powerful.
Over 120 bioactive ingredients have been identified in Chamomile essential oil including:
- Chamazulene (highest content in German C.)
- Anthemic acid
- A-bisabolol (within Chamazulene)
- Bisabolol oxide A (within Chamazulene)
- Bisabolol oxide B (within Chamazulene)
- Bisabolone oxide A (within Chamazulene)
- Farnesene (within Chamazulene)
- Caffeic acid (German)
- Apigenin (German)
- Luteolin (German)
- Chamaemeloside (German)
- Tachykinin NK1 (German)
- Coumarin (German)
- N-butyl angelate (Roman)
The constituent chamazulene gives German Chamomile its distinctive blue color, which along with apigenin, and luteolin possess anti-inflammatory action. Bisabolol is a spasmolytic, and alpha-bisabolol acts an antimicrobial, a mild sedative, an antifungal, and has been found to be effective against peptic ulcers. In Clinical trials on an extract of German Chamomile, it was found to be superior to hydrocortisone, and the oil was found to have a sedative effect, but with positive mood, but it is not indicated what the mental state of the participants were. Withdrawal symptoms were diminished on participants who were addicted to morphine, and an opium derivative from inhaling German Chamomile essential oil. Chamazulene is also a spamolytic, and an antiallergen.
Chamomile oil is refreshing yet calming, but some are more fruity like Roman, and others more balsamic like Moroccan. The therapeutic properties are:
- Analgesic (Common,/Blue/German/Roman/ Moroccan)
- Antiallergenic (Blue/German)
- Anti-enemic (German/Roman)
- Anti-asthmatic (Chamomile Roman/German)
- Antibacterial (Common/Blue/German/Roman)
- Antidepressant (Common)
- Antiseptic (Common)
- Anti-inflammatory (Common/German/Moroccan)
- Antiphlogistic (Common)
- Antiseptic (Chamomile (Blue/Roman)
- Calmative(Chamomile (Blue/Roman/ Moroccan)
- Carminative (Common/Blue)
- Cholagogue (Common/Moroccan/Roman)
- Cicatrizant (Blue)
- Emollient (Chamomile (Blue)
- Emmenagogue (Common/Blue/German/Roman)
- Enteric parasite Roman)
- Febrifuge (Blue)
- Fungicidal (Blue/German)
- Hepatic (Common/Blue/Moroccan/German/Roman)
- Nervine (Blue/German/Roman/ Moroccan)
- Relaxant (Chamomile Roman)
- Skin infections (Chamomile (Blue)
- Spasmolytic (Common/Blue/German/ Moroccan/Roman)
- Stimulant – immune system (German/Roman)
- Stomachic (Common/Blue/Morrocan/German/Roman)
- Sudorific (Blue)
- Tonic (Common)
- Vermifuge (Common/Blue)
- Vulnerary (Common/Blue)
For glossary see It All Makes Good Scents
As a stomachic, the oil improves the digestion, and eases atonic dyspepsia by increasing the digestive process. As a diuretic, the oil promotes the flow of urine, which helps to relieve fluid retention, expel excess fat, water and toxins, while relieving any renal inflammation, and cystitis, as an anti-inflammatory.
The oil balances the female hormones in cases of delayed, suppressed or painful menses, and relieve menopausal problems. As a calmative it diminishes nervous excitability, and sooths pains from neuralgia. It eases painful joints as in arthritis, and sore muscles, and it is particularly healing for the skin easing skin complaints like eczema, psoriasis, inflamed wounds, and burns.
On the subtle level, chamomile eases tensions and anxieties pertaining to past fears, promotes self realization, and emotional stability; and is useful for childhood problems such as diarrhea, colic, convulsions, and tantrums.
- Acne (Blue/Roman)
- Arthritis (Blue/Roman)
- Asthma (Blue)
- Burns (Blue)
- Capillaries, broken (Blue)
- Colic (Blue)
- Cuts (Blue)
- · Dyspepsia (Blue)
- Eczema (Blue/Roman)
- Hair conditioner – blonds (Roman)
- Insect bites (Roman)
- Insect bites (Blue)
- Insomnia (Moroccan/Roman)
- Irritability (Moroccan)
- Headaches (Blue/Moroccan/Roman)
- Menses, painful/irregular/excessive loss of blood (German/Moroccan)
- Migraine (Moroccan)
- Muscular pain/spasms (Blue/Roman)
- Nausea (Blue)
- Neuralgia (Blue)
- Nervous tension (Blue)
- Rashes (Blue/Roman)
- Rheumatism (Blue)
- Self development – anger, oversensitivity, realization, tantrums (Roman)
- Sensitive skin (Moroccan/Roman)
- Stress (Blue)
- Toothache (Roman)
- Wounds (Roman)
Blue Chamomile can cause dermatitis and anaphylaxis in some individuals, and all chamomiles should not be used by pregnant women, and those with epilepsy due to the anti-spasmic properties. On the level of Vibrational healing, it is contraindicated in the daytime for those who are depressed, but will ease the depression if taken before sleeping. Chamomile in general has been found to have a negative interaction in chemotherapy, and with drugs: Cisplatin, Cyclophosphamide, Docetaxel, Fluorouracil, Methotrexate, Paclitaxel.
It can be used in Vapour Therapy for the treatment of respiratory tract infections/irritations, nervous tensions, and inflammatory disorders
5 drops can be added to a bath before adding water for ano-genital inflammations, inflammatory, allergies, anorexia, addiction, insomnia, arthritis, muscular aches and pains, and menopause.
It can be added to Carrier Oils, to use for massage in the case of gastrointestinal spasms, and rheumatism.
It can be added to water as a dental wash for dental abscesses, and tonsillitis.
Burfield, T. “The Anatomy of Adulterations.” http://www.abundantlifeessentials.com/adulteration.htm
“Chamomile, Common.” http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chammo49.html
Lavabre, M. “Aromatehrapy Workbook.” Healing Arts Press, Canada. 1990.
Price, S. “Practical Aromatherapy.” Thorsons Publ. 1987.