Chamomile is one of the oldest and most widely used medicinal plants in the world. It has a long history of use, dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times. In fact, the name Chamomile is thought to derive from the Greek words ‘chamae’ meaning ‘dwarf/low growing/creeping’, and ‘mēlon’, meaning tree fruit or apple (due to the herb’s apple-like scent).
Chamomile is one of the oldest and most widely used medicinal plants in the world and there are two main varieties of Chamomile essential oil used in modern day aromatherapy.
Chamomile essential oil
There are two main varieties of Chamomile essential oil used in modern day aromatherapy. Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) and German Chamomile essential oil (Matricaria recutica), which is also known as Blue Chamomile.
Both essential oils are steam distilled from the flower heads and although their therapeutic properties overlap somewhat, the chemical composition of each oil is quite different. German Chamomile contains much higher levels of chamazulene, which gives it a beautiful blue colour and stronger anti-inflammatory properties. Interestingly, chamazulene isn’t found in the plant itself, but is produced when other plant constituents react during the steam distillation process.
Main therapeutic properties of Chamomile essential oil:
Both oils share the following properties:
- Carminative (settles digestive system)
- Cicatrizant (promotes wound healing via formation of scar tissue)
- Emmenagogue (induces or assists menstruation)
- Nerve Sedative
- Vulnerary (heals wounds)
Main uses of Chamomile essential oil
- Soothing the nervous system
Chamomile has a calming and soothing effect on the nerves and can be helpful for balancing the mood and assisting with problems such as anxiety, stress, tension headaches, migraines and insomnia.
- Relieving pain
The analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties are excellent for relieving muscle and joint pain, sprains, strains and inflamed tendons. In general, it is best to use Roman Chamomile for dull, persistent pain and German Chamomile for hot, red pain.
- Supporting the digestive system
The oil can help support the digestive system and soothe problems such as colic, indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Soothing menstrual problems
Roman Chamomile is helpful for soothing menstrual problems such as period pain, mood swings and fluid retention. As an emmenagogue it can also help to encourage a more regular cycle.
- Caring for the skin
Chamomile is soothing and calming for the skin. German Chamomile is particularly helpful for sensitive, red, dry, itchy, inflamed skin conditions and skin allergies such as eczema. It is also thought to help in the healing of abscesses, boils, infected cuts, splinters and other minor wounds.
- For babies & children
Roman Chamomile is one of the gentlest essential oils and is excellent for use with babies and children to soothe a range of issues such as restlessness, colic, earache, teething pain and nappy rash.
The oil can be used in aromatherapy diffusers or candle burners or can be diluted with suitable carriers such as base oils, creams and lotions for direct application to the skin. Please note the oil must never be applied undiluted to the skin. It can also be used in the bath or in hot or cold compresses. Compresses are particularly useful for muscle and joint pain, inflammation, period pain and headaches.
In addition to using the essential oil it can also be extremely beneficial to drink Chamomile tea as a complementary treatment. This can be particularly helpful for soothing the emotions and digestive problems and aiding sleep. The tea is also useful for treating sore puffy eyes, or eye infections such as conjunctivitis. To use in this way, make a tea with boiling water and allow to cool, before placing the cooled tea bags over the eyes.
Chamomile should be avoided if allergic to plants from the Asteraceae family. These include chamomile, ragweed, daisies, marigolds, and chrysanthemums.
Essential oils are powerful substances that should be used with care. Always read the safety notes and contraindications for any oil prior to use and never apply undiluted to the skin. Seek professional advice before using aromatherapy oils if pregnant, taking medication or suffering with any medical condition. Never take essential oils orally.
How have you used Chamomile essential oil?
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