Chamomile is one of the most widespread and well-known wild-growing plants actively used both in traditional and official medicine. Charming snow-white flowers grow literally everywhere and are widely used in herbal teas, infusions, and as a sedative. One of the most popular medicinal annuals is a source of valuable essential oil with considerable medicinal properties.
Check the essential oils list with the usage description.
What is chamomile?
Chamomile is a perennial herbaceous plant of about 20 species. It can be found in meadows, in the fields, in pastures, near populated areas, and at the roadsides all around the world. The plant flowers are in their first year of life, and the flowers collected between May and July are used for medicinal purposes.
The properties of German chamomile and its oil and extracts were recognized thousands of years ago. In ancient Egypt and in ancient Greece, it was considered the main remedy for serious epidemics and diseases such as malaria. Both Pliny the Elder and Hippocrates praised chamomile as one of the main medicinal plants. It was one of the basic plants for all monastic gardens and one of the first crops to be cultivated as part of the organized gardens that gave rise to all landscape design.
As for essential oil in the classical sense, it first began to be extracted in the 15th century and was considered an effective antiseptic and disinfectant until the invention of antibiotics. In particular, it was widely used in military medicine.
German chamomile is an annual herb with a height of only 23 inches with densely branched shoots and a large number of small flowers. It’s common throughout Europe and pretty widespread all over the world. In many countries, it grows not only in the wild and is cultivated both as a medicinal and ornamental crop.
A unique characteristic of this plant is its high content of chamazulene. This aromatic compound has a rich blue color characteristic of the essential oil but doesn’t affect the plant’s snow-white tiny flowers in any way. It can only be extracted in the process of distillation with water vapor, and comes only from inflorescences and not roots or stems. Pure chamazulene can only be extracted from the essential oil (it’s one of the most effective bases for medicinal ointments).
- germacrene B
- bisabolol oxide B
- bisabolol oxide A
The essential oil of German chamomile is one of the basic essential oils with a very wide range of uses. In aromatherapy, there are also other types of chamomile oil, particularly Moroccan and Roman. They all differ in their properties and even in the type of skin on which they can be used.
Only two of the seven types of essential oils can be called chamomile proper: Roman and German. And while in herbal infusions and decoctions their characteristics are identical, in aromatherapy they are almost fundamentally different essential oils and should not be confused. Visually, they are easily distinguished from each other by their color. German has a dark blue color because of the chamazulene. The aroma is also very different: the Roman variety has a sweeter, richer aroma, while the German one has a more herbaceous scent.
How it’s made
Chamomile essential oil is extracted from the dried flowers, less often from the inflorescences of the plant, and you can guess the part used by the color of the oil: that extracted from the flowers is dark, deep blue, but if producers increase their productivity by diluting the extract, the color will be less intense. It’s obtained by standard steam distillation, with an extraction time of 7 to 13 hours for proper chamazulene cleavage.
The best oil is considered to be that extracted from plants harvested at the peak of flowering and from a special chemotype of German chamomile, marked with the additional term bisabolol, which has a more pronounced anti-inflammatory, soothing, protective, and healing effect. The oil extracted from this type of chamomile is characterized by strong biomedical properties, expressed in other chemotypes only in a mild form.
It’s easy to check the quality of the product: the color indicates not only the parts used but also the freshness of the essential oil since lengthy storage changes the dark blue color first to emerald and then to brown. Before buying, be sure to look at it in the light, checking the intensity and hue of the color.
Chamomile oil is stored for over five years, it begins to change color after two or three years. The external characteristics of the oil are special not only in color but also in texture: it’s viscous, distinctly thick.
The aroma of chamomile oil isn’t quite the same as that of a dried plant. It’s strong, deep, and persistent, with a grassy sweet base, light tart upper notes, balsamic lower notes, with almost elusive nuances that remind of hay, fruit, spice, and tobacco tones.
Blending with other oils
The complex and surprisingly versatile scent is perceived as a mixture of separate shades and aromas. This is why it’s very difficult to find a complementary fragrance that would compete with this oil’s own intensity and depth. And yet it combines well with limetto, rosewood, cypress, petitgrain, bergamot, rose, lavender, bitter orange, and geranium.
Chamomile Roman, yarrow, blue cypress, fragonia, neroli.
The benefits of German chamomile essential oil
This fragrant extract is a treasure trove of beneficial properties that can be widely used in medicine, cosmetology, perfumery, and many other areas.
Of all the types of essential oils extracted from the flowers of different varieties of chamomile, it’s this variety that has the widest range of medicinal properties. This oil has the most pronounced anti-inflammatory and soothing effect that offers relief for both internal and external inflammation of almost all etymologies.
- It relieves irritation and inflammation of insect bites and burns of all kinds.
- In addition to combating inflammation, it has a healing, restorative effect on the mucous membranes, including the oral cavity and the digestive tract.
- When taken internally, it stimulates the appetite, activates the digestive processes, and has a stimulating effect on the gall bladder and liver.
- For the urinary system, it plays the role of an active disinfectant and diuretic, helping to stop infectious processes and effectively treat various diseases, including cystitis of any etymology.
- It has the ability to optimize local blood circulation, promote healing of open and poorly closed wounds, abscesses and ulcers, helps to cope with the purulent processes of ingrown nails.
- As part of massage oils, it’s excellent for relieving painful symptoms of muscle pain, joint inflammation or arthritis, sprains, bursitis, ligament and tendon injuries.
- Chamomile oil is excellent for daily oral care, having a milder effect than aggressive coniferous oils or mint. It relieves sore throats and hoarseness.
- This is one of the soft “women’s” oils that can quickly relieve unpleasant symptoms, irritability, depressive disorders and tension during menopause and before menstruation. It has an antibacterial effect when applied topically, regulates secretions, adjusts the acid balance and microflora. Since ancient times, chamomile has been considered an herb, facilitating childbirth and protecting against postpartum complications.
- Actively removes excess fluid from the body.
- As a preventive measure, helps to restore immunity, strengthens the body’s defenses, thus preventing colds and infections, has a general antipyretic and disinfecting effect.
- This is one of the best oils for aromatherapy treatments and blends for children, because it’s really difficult to find a milder remedy in terms of its effect.
Cosmetic and household applications
In cosmetics, chamomile oil is considered a basic daily care product for sensitive skin. Its inflammation soothing properties are most beneficial for very dry, flaky skin prone to redness and irritation. However, it works well for other skin types too. It soothes, smoothes out, tones, whitens, enhances cell metabolism and blood circulation, and has an overall rejuvenating effect. When used daily, it’s able to narrow the vessels, but the effect will manifest itself after a few months of regular use.
In addition to general care and enrichment of daily products for dry and sensitive skin, chamomile oil can be used to eliminate the effects and manifestations of allergic reactions and dermatitis, in the treatment of urticaria, eczema, all skin infections accompanied by peeling, redness, and itching. Regenerating and mild anti-inflammatory properties are also evident when treating pustular or acne rashes.
This oil is great for permanent hair care, giving it elasticity, shine, and strength, stimulating the strengthening and restoration of the hair structure. When used in hair care products, it has a lightening effect, which must be taken into account when using it regularly.
Despite its mild nature, chamomile oil also has a deodorizing effect.
It’s also used to repel insects and to care for children’s skin after sunbathing or bathing, like the main skin soothing oil.
Chamomile oil is considered one of the best soothing aromatherapeutic tools that’s great for the treatment of psychological and emotional issues. It brings relaxation and peace both physically and emotionally, perfectly removes excitement and irritation, allows you to quickly cope with anxiety and tension. This is one of the best essential oils for insomnia, as it improves sleep, helps to feel fully rested, and speeds up recovery.
It’s also effective in eliminating overstimulation, nervousness, instability of emotional background, helps to overcome negative experiences and anger, excellent for relieving fatigue by deep, complex removal of tension and stress.
When it comes to personal development, it brings constructive energy, helps to find an optimistic and productive way to solve problems and conflicts, cope with life and family difficulties, to overcome insecurities, including feelings of inferiority. It’s one of the mildest and most effective oils to eliminate negativism, embitterment, and fight depression.
How to use German chamomile essential oil
This oil is used in all methods of aromatherapy, the most common being:
Aromatization of the air (aroma lamp, aroma cushion)
2 drops for each 53 square feet of space. Inhale for 20-40 minutes, 1-3 times a day.
Inhalation (aroma pendant, aroma lamp, inhaler, steam inhalator)
- Add 1-2 drops and inhale for 15-30 minutes.
- Add 5-10 drops to the aroma inhaler, take a few breaths whenever necessary.
- Add 2 drops per 34 oz. Hot water to use in a steam inhalator 2-3 times a day.
Skin application and massage
2-5 drops per 10 ml of base oil (depending on the area of application, duration of application, and tolerance). Apply a few drops to the back, chest, feet (for colds), stomach (for internal organ problems), scalp, on the biologically active points, and massage. 1-4 times a day as needed.
1 drop per half teaspoon of neutral hydrophilic oil, dissolve in half a glass of water, add to a damp cloth and apply to the hands, feet, or any other painful areas.
For lubricating nasal or ear passages or mucous membranes
1-2 drops per 0.3 oz. of base oil. You can soak a piece of absorbent cotton in this oil and use as a tampon.
3-5 drops per 1 teaspoon of neutral hydrophilic oil or organic solubilizer, dissolve under running water. Take a bath for 15-20 minutes.
1 drop per 0.03 oz. of neutral hydrophilic oil or alcohol. Mix, dissolve in water.
Mix at the 1:5 ratio with base oil. In pure form, can only be applied to nails. Keep in mind that it can stain.
NB: use clean containers and instruments!)
1 drop per 0.1 oz. of melted cocoa butter, + 1 drop of CO2 extract of marigold.
To treat hemorrhoids, add CO2 extract of chestnut. Stir well. You can also add 1 drop each of lavender, manuka, and tea tree, increasing the amount of cocoa butter respectively (0.1 oz. of cocoa butter per drop of the oils). Form a suppository, wrap it in foil and refrigerate. Use overnight, before going to bed. Might stain the sheets.
Creams & gels
1-2 drops per 0.3 oz. of base oil, cream, gel (in case of infections, up to 10 drops).
Add 1-2 drops per 0.3 oz. of shampoo or bubble bath liquid.
Caution, safety and side effects
Despite the fact that chamomile oil is considered one of the mildest and gentlest of all essential oils, it has significant limitations on its use. The main precautions are related to its use during pregnancy, which should be avoided due to its active influence on the female body at least during the first months.
It’s absolutely incompatible with homeopathic remedies, so simultaneous use is also impossible. Chamomile has no irritating, phototoxic, or other unpleasant effects on the skin. It’s one of those essential oils that can be applied to areas of inflammation and in pure form.
Is chamomile oil safe during pregnancy?
This oil should generally be avoided during pregnancy, at least during the first 8-12 weeks.
Does chamomile oil stain?
Yes, it can stain clothing and bedding. Use with caution.
Does German chamomile oil have any side effects?
This essential oil may interfere with homeopathic medicines and should never be used in the vicinity of a homeopathic remedy. It has no irritating, photo-toxic or other unpleasant effects on the skin when applied topically. The oil may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals when used undiluted. If an allergy does develop, discontinue use immediately. Like all essential oils, German chamomile should not be taken internally without professional guidance. Use it carefully during pregnancy. Avoid if you have low blood pressure or epilepsy.
Is chamomile oil toxic to pets?
The safety of chamomile to cats and dogs is debatable. Some sources say that it might contain components that cause allergy and severe skin irritation. Others claim that German chamomile is not only safe but also has a relaxing effect on pets.
What to look for when choosing chamomile oil?
Some oil merchants offer this oil blended with Roman chamomile. There’s nothing wrong with that, but German chamomile is the best choice when it comes to dermatological purposes. If you are buying German chamomile essential oil for use in aromatherapy, make sure it has a high linalool and bisabolol content.
Is German chamomile oil safe for pets?
This oil isn’t toxic for dogs or cats. In fact, it’s often used as a sedative, relaxant, and anti-inflammatory remedy for dogs (and in some cases, for cats). However, you must still use it with caution. Some pets might be allergic to this oil or its ingredients. Before using this oil for your pet, talk to a veterinarian.
Why is German chamomile oil so expensive?
Considering the fact that chamomile is hardly a rare plant, the price of this oil (in case it’s 100% natural) can take many people aback. The reason for a hefty price is rather simple: it takes over 2 pounds of chamomile flowers to make just 0.03 oz. of oil.
Since German chamomile essential oil contains no irritating, photo-toxic, or other unpleasant components when applied topically and is generally quite mild, it’s a very safe product. It’s an excellent skin relaxant and can be used in various beauty and wellness preparations. However, it can interfere with homeopathic remedies and decrease their effectiveness. It has to be used carefully during pregnancy.