Chamomile is one of the oldest and most ubiquitous plants in the world and is used to induce calm, promote sleep and soothe the digestive system. Chamomile is commonly used in the form of essential oils for aromatherapy and topical application.
Unlike some other essential oils, chamomile has been studied somewhat extensively and has been indicated to provide a wide range of benefits in the treatment of various conditions like digestive issues, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Chamomile essential oil is extracted from chamomile flowers through steam distillation. Its medical properties are due to its flowers' high terpenoid and flavonoid content. Terpenoids and flavonoids are chemicals whose effects include pain and anxiety relief and antioxidant properties.
Chamomile essential oil is commonly used for aromatherapy via diffusion or applied topically to the skin. Chamomile essential oil is also commonly added to bathwater as a nightly pre-sleep routine.
There are two main types of chamomile: German chamomile and Roman chamomile. Roman chamomile is also known as English chamomile.
While the two types of chamomile are similar and have many uses in common and are often used in combination with each other, there are some key chemical differences and different applications to be aware of when shopping for chamomile essential oil.
German chamomile, or Chamomilla recutita, has a high content of the natural chemical chamazulene, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. German chamomile smells earthy and sweet and is known for its efficacy in helping to alleviate cramping and soothing the digestive system.
Roman chamomile, or Chamaemelum nobile, is known for its calming properties, making it potentially useful in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia, although it can also be useful in alleviating stomach cramps, similar to German chamomile. Roman chamomile smells fruity and sweet.
Much research has been done on the benefits and efficacy of chamomile essential oil.
Add a few drops of chamomile essential oil to a diffuser. Follow the diffuser’s manufacturer instructions for use. You can also diffuse an essential oil blend containing chamomile for a holistic calm.
Chamomile essential oil is used topically to help with pain, digestion and anxiety.
Before you apply chamomile essential oil to your skin it’s important to dilute it with a carrier oil.
You can also add chamomile essential oil to your bath before bed to promote sleep and relaxation. You should dilute your essential oils with a carrier oil before putting them in your bath — otherwise, the active molecules in the essential oil will evaporate quickly, and you won’t benefit from the oil’s properties. For ease of use, consider a chamomile bubble bath.
You can also purchase a lotion formulated for sleep and relaxation which includes chamomile for an easy calming ritual.
Add chamomile essential oil to a hot compress and place it on your neck or back to alleviate pain and promote relaxation.
Roman chamomile is a mild herb generally considered safe. As with any essential oil, however, there is the risk of an allergic reaction in some users.
To avoid skin irritation, do a spot test on your skin to test your reaction to chamomile essential oil. Add a couple of drops of chamomile essential oil to a carrier oil and apply to a small patch of skin on your forearm. If skin irritation such as itching, burning or redness occurs, remove the essential oil with vegetable oil.
Never consume chamomile essential oil. Chamomile should only be ingested when in forms specifically designed for consumption, such as in chamomile tea.
It’s important not to take chamomile before driving or operating heavy machinery as it can cause drowsiness.
Store chamomile essential oil out of reach of children or pets.
Pregnant women should be especially cautious and consult their physician before taking chamomile in any form, as chamomile has been shown to possibly cause mild uterine stimulation.
Consult your physician before taking chamomile if you’re taking other medications as there are a number of drugs with which chamomile is indicated to have negative interactions.
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Evelyn Waugh writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.