Chamomile Essential Oil- Benefits, Uses, and Origin
The plant belongs to the Asteraceae family which makes it related to the beloved daisy. It is native to Europe, India, and Western Asia.
Roman and German chamomile are the two varieties of chamomile in which the oil is extracted. Aside from the difference in the way they look, they also differ in chemical composition. Chamomile essential oil can be extracted from the plant through steam distillation. It is said that Roman chamomile yields more extract from its flowers than the German chamomile.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
Common names: English chamomile, Roman chamomile, ground apple, garden chamomile, whig plant
This species of chamomile is used in making chamomile tea and perfumes. They have daisy-like flowers. Roman chamomile is an herbaceous, low-growing, aromatic plants. Their scent is described to be faintly fruity, having a pleasant apple scent. This is also called manzanilla by the Spanish or as it loosely translates to English, little apple. The flowers of the Roman chamomile are small with a yellow solid cone surrounded by white petals. Its leaves are light green and shiny attached to its hairy stem. This is often used as ground cover. The Roman chamomile essential oil gives a more calming feeling and can promote healthy sleep. This chamomile oil is also antispasmodic and anti-fungal.
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Common names: Hungarian chamomile wild chamomile blue chamomile or scented mayweed
German chamomile flowers have a hollow bright gold cone with white petals that closely resembles the Roman chamomile. Its stems are hairless. It is native to Southern and Western Europe. It is mainly used to treat gastrointestinal problems and skin irritations. German chamomile is described to have a strong aromatic scent that smells like sweet straw. The German chamomile was named Matricaria, from the Latin word matrix Which also means womb, because it was used to treat gynecologic complaints such as menstrual cramps, irregular periods, and sleep disorders due to premenstrual syndrome. German chamomile essential oil also stimulates the liver and kidney helping improve digestion.
Chamomile essential oil has a blue tinge because of the component charmazulene. Charmazulene is also the anti inflammatory component of this oil. German chamomile contains a higher concentration of charmazulene compared to Roman chamomile making it a more potent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory oil. Knowing their difference in properties make is easier in picking the right one based on the needs.
Traditional uses of Chamomile Essential Oil
In Ancient Egypt, the chamomile was a symbol of dedication to their gods. It symbolises the sun and was dedicated to Ra, the sun god. Chamomile oil also used for embalming along with sandalwood essential oil in ancient Egypt it was also used to cure malaria.
The 16th century chamomile oil was used as a painkiller and for treating digestive disorders. During ceremonies people would scatter chamomile all over the ground or the floor so that when stepped on, the plant will release its fragrant scent all over the place.
Chamomile essential oil could be used in a number of ways. It could be inhaled straight from the bottle, dosed in bath water, or topically applied on the skin by incorporating it in carrier or massage oils. Adding water to chamomile essential oil can be used as a room deodorizer. This helps get rid of unwanted, lingering odors. Using a diffuser chamomile essential oil can give a room calming and relaxing atmosphere.
Benefits of using chamomile essential oil
Chamomile oil is used as fragrance in soaps and perfumes. It is also used as hair moisturizer and conditioner. It helps keep the hair stronger at the same time. Adding a few drops of chamomile to a massage oil or lotion can keep skin moisturized.
Food and beverage
Chamomile plants were brewed to make teas. Chamomile essential oil was also used for flavouring food and tobacco.
Blending chamomile oil with lavender essential oil gives a calming effect. It is best used before bedtime to create a relaxing mood and induce sleep.
Inhaling a blend of chamomile, vetiver essential oil, and cedarwood essential oil before bedtime is recommended to create a mood conducive for sleeping.
For digestive disorders
Chamomile essential oil is used for a number of digestive disorders such as loss of appetite, flatulence, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting.
Chamomile essential oil has anti- inflammatory and calming properties. Chamomile oil helps soothe skin irritations like acne, rosacea, and other skin complications. It also helps relieve swelling and skin pain. Chamomile essential oil can also be found in ointments and creams made for skin irritation.
Chamomile essential oil stimulates circulation of the blood and helps flush out toxins from the skin. This then results to reducing the occurrence of acne, hyperpigmentation, and blemishes. It helps repair skin from damages from scars and wounds and signs of ageing resulting to a much clearer skin.
Chamomile essential oil was used to combat fevers even during the old days. When used with warm bathwater, it works against sinus inflammation, symptoms of fever, and sore throat.
Apigenin, a compound found in chamomile essential oil has been found to prevent the growth and development of cancer cells. It can also reduce the blood supply of cancerous tumors further inhibiting their growth.
Safety tips and precautions
The use of chamomile essential oil is safe for most people even when ingested. Those who are allergic to marigolds, daisies, and similar herbs should be cautious in using chamomile oil.
For pregnant and breastfeeding women, Roman chamomile is unsafe to ingest and can cause miscarriages.
People taking anticoagulants are warned not to take chamomile tea or use chamomile oil as it contains blood-thinning compounds.
Chamomile essential oil is a known relaxant and can cause drowsiness so it is not advised to use this before driving.