Chamomile is one of the most popular herbs in the world, known for its soothing and calming properties. You may have enjoyed a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime or used a chamomile lotion to moisturize your skin. But did you know that chamomile also comes in the form of an essential oil that has many benefits and uses for your health and wellness?
In this article, we will explore what chamomile essential oil is, how it differs from other types of chamomile, how it is extracted, and what its history and origin are. We will also look at the various benefits and uses of chamomile oil for your skin, digestion, stress, sleep, hair, and more. Finally, we will give you some tips on how to use chamomile oil safely and effectively.
What is Chamomile Essential Oil?
Chamomile essential oil is a concentrated liquid that contains the volatile compounds of the chamomile plant. These compounds are responsible for the plant’s fragrance, flavor, and therapeutic properties. Chamomile essential oil can be used in aromatherapy, massage, skincare, haircare, and other natural remedies.
The Difference Between Roman and German Chamomile
There are many species of chamomile plants, but the two most common ones used for essential oil production are Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Both plants belong to the same botanical family as daisies, sunflowers, and marigolds.
Roman chamomile is also known as English or garden chamomile. It is a perennial plant that grows low to the ground with white flowers and feathery leaves. It is native to Europe but can also be found in North America and Argentina. Roman chamomile oil has a sweet, fruity, apple-like aroma that is soothing and relaxing.
German chamomile is also known as blue or wild chamomile. It is an annual plant that grows tall with blue flowers and delicate leaves. It is native to Europe but can also be found in Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America. German chamomile oil has a strong, herbaceous, straw-like aroma that is calming and anti-inflammatory.
The Chemical Composition and Aroma of Chamomile Oil
Both Roman and German chamomile oils contain similar chemical compounds that give them their therapeutic properties. Some of these compounds are:
- Bisabolol: a sesquiterpene alcohol that has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, wound-healing, and skin-soothing effects.
- Chamazulene: a sesquiterpene hydrocarbon that has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antihistamine, and analgesic effects. It also gives German chamomile oil its distinctive blue color.
- Farnesene: a sesquiterpene hydrocarbon that has antispasmodic, antifungal, antibacterial, and insect-repellent effects.
- Flavonoids: plant pigments that have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, anticancer, and antiviral effects.
- Terpenoids: organic compounds that have antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, antidepressant, and mood-enhancing effects.
The aroma of chamomile oil can vary depending on the type, quality, and method of extraction. Generally, Roman chamomile oil has a sweeter, more pleasant, and more popular scent than German chamomile oil, which has a stronger, more pungent, and more medicinal scent. However, both oils have calming and soothing effects on the mind and body.
How is Chamomile Essential Oil Extracted?
Chamomile oil is usually extracted from the flowers of the chamomile plant by steam distillation. This is a process that involves passing steam through the plant material to vaporize the volatile compounds. The vapor is then collected and condensed to form the essential oil.
Steam distillation is the most common and preferred method of extraction for chamomile oil because it preserves the quality and potency of the oil. However, other methods such as solvent extraction, CO2 extraction, or cold pressing can also be used to obtain chamomile oil.
The History and Origin of Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile is one of the oldest and most widely used medicinal herbs in history. The name chamomile comes from the Greek word khamaimelon, which means “earth apple” because of its apple-like scent. Chamomile has been used for various purposes by different cultures and civilizations throughout time.
The Ancient Use of Chamomile in Egypt, Greece, and Rome
The earliest recorded use of chamomile dates back to ancient Egypt, where it was considered a sacred herb dedicated to the sun god Ra. The Egyptians used chamomile as a remedy for fever, inflammation, skin problems, and as an ingredient for embalming. They also offered chamomile to their gods as a sign of gratitude and reverence.
The ancient Greeks also valued chamomile for its healing properties. They used it to treat wounds, ulcers, burns, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and menstrual problems. They also named it “ground apple” because of its fragrance and “chamaimelon” because of its resemblance to a melon.
The ancient Romans also used chamomile for various purposes. They used it as a medicine, a perfume, a flavoring agent, a dye, and an incense. They also planted chamomile along their roadsides and in their gardens to create a pleasant aroma. They believed that chamomile had magical powers that could ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.
The Medieval and Modern Use of Chamomile in Europe and America
During the Middle Ages, chamomile was widely used in Europe as a herbal remedy for various ailments. It was also considered one of the “nine sacred herbs” that could cure any disease. Chamomile was also used as a tea, a bath additive, a pillow stuffing, and a hair rinse.
In the 16th century, chamomile was introduced to America by the Spanish colonists. It soon became popular among the Native Americans, who used it for treating colds, fevers, stomach problems, skin infections, and snake bites. They also smoked chamomile as a substitute for tobacco.
In the 18th century, chamomile was widely cultivated in England and Germany as a commercial crop. It was also exported to other countries such as France, Belgium, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Egypt, and India. Chamomile became one of the most popular herbs in Europe and America for its soothing and calming effects.
Today, chamomile is still one of the most widely used herbs in the world. It is used for making tea, essential oil, cosmetics, skincare products, haircare products, candles, soap, and other natural products. Chamomile is also extensively researched for its potential health benefits and therapeutic properties.
The Benefits and Uses of Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile oil has many benefits and uses for your health and wellness. Here are some of the most common ones:
Chamomile Essential Oil for Skin Care and Wound Healing
Chamomile oil is excellent for skin care because of its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, wound-healing, and skin-soothing properties. It can help with various skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, rashes, burns, insect bites, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. It can also reduce redness, swelling, itching, pain, and inflammation. Chamomile oil can also moisturize, soften, smooth, and brighten your skin. It can also prevent or reduce signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, sagging, and spots.
To use chamomile oil for skin care and wound healing:
- Dilute it with a carrier oil such as jojoba oil or coconut oil at a ratio of 1-2 drops per teaspoon.
- Apply it to the affected area with a cotton ball or a clean cloth.
- Repeat 2-3 times a day until the condition improves.
You can also add chamomile oil to your favorite lotion, cream or serum to enhance its effects. You can also make a chamomile oil compress by soaking a clean cloth in warm water mixed with a few drops of chamomile oil and applying it to the affected area for 10-15 minutes.