Chamomile is one of the most recognizable and popular herbs available. It's best known as a soothing tea, but chamomile essential oil has impressive benefits too. The oil is extracted by steam distillation from fresh or dried chamomile flowers. There are many ways to harness its health and aromatherapy benefits.
This oil is used to flavor teas, mouthwashes, and other foods. It's also found in soaps, cosmetics, and other personal care products. Chamomile is a popular aromatherapy and alternative remedy for many health concerns and conditions.
According to a review published in Molecular Medicine Reports, chamomile oil has anti-inflammatory abilities. It contains flavonoids with the ability to penetrate deeply below the skin's surface. Research shows chamomile may help relieve eczema and diaper rash. It may also help heal wounds.
Aids Postpartum Perineal Healing
The oil may help new moms who've had an episiotomy heal faster. According to a 2004 Korean study, using essential oils such as chamomile in an aromatherapy sitz bath or aromatherapy soap help heal the perineum after birth. A douche made of chamomile essential oil may relieve vaginitis symptoms associated with vaginal dryness.
Relieves Cold Symptoms
Some research suggests steam-inhaling chamomile oil may relieve cold symptoms, such as congestion and cough.
According to a study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an aromatherapy blend of Roman chamomile, lavender, and neroli oils reduced anxiety levels and increased sleep in coronary intensive care patients. Research published in Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry found chamomile helped reduce Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A) and Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) scores in people with generalized anxiety disorder and/or depression.
A sitz bath containing the oil may reduce inflammation and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids. The flavonoids in the oil may help control bleeding in acute, internal hemorrhoids, according to a study published in the British Journal of Surgery.
Helps Mouth Wores and Ulcers
Oral mucositis is a potentially debilitating side effect of cancer treatment. It may cause symptoms like swollen gums, mouth sores, mouth bleeding, pain, and difficulty talking and eating. Research shows chamomile essential oil mouthwash made of 30 drops of the oil to 20 ml water may help prevent oral mucositis during chemotherapy.
Reduces Plaque Build-up and Gingivitis
According to a 2005 study, chamomile extract mouthwash significantly reduced plaque build-up and gingivitis compared to a control mouthwash. Participants experienced no adverse side effects.
Types of Chamomile Oil
Chamomile is found throughout the world. It can be grown almost anywhere there's full sun and good soil. There are two main types of the oil, also called chamomile extract: German chamomile (Matricaria chamomile) oil and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) oil. The oils are different in scent and chemical composition but are often used interchangeably. German chamomile oil is the more popular of the two. Both are herbal remedy powerhouses.
German chamomile oil, also called blue chamomile oil, has a sweet, herbal aroma and a rich, blue color. It gets its blue color from its high azulene content. Azulene is an organic compound formed during steam distillation.
Roman chamomile oil has a fruity, apple scent. It's usually clear to pale yellow, although sometimes it's tinted blue. Roman chamomile oil has less azulene than its German counterpart.
How to Use the Oil
There are several ways to use the oil:
- Add a few drops to a cotton ball or tissue and inhale.
- Add several drops to your favorite carrier oil or massage oil and massage into skin.
- Combine several drops with milk or your favorite carrier oil and add to bathwater.
- Place a few drops in boiling water, cover your head with a towel, and inhale the steam.
Chamomile essential oil blends well with:
- Lavender oil
- Rose oil
- Geranium oil
- Citrus oils, such as orange, lemon, and neroli
Do not ingest chamomile essential oil unless under the advice of a trained herbal practitioner.
Side Effects and Precautions
Chamomile oil is generally considered safe. Do not use undiluted. Used topically or inhaled, it may cause allergic reaction or contact dermatitis. Symptoms of allergic reaction may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rash or hives
- Watery eyes
- Chest tightness
- Rapid heartbeat
- Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat
All types of chamomile are members of the daisy family (Asteraceae). If you're allergic to daisies, ragweed, sunflowers, asters, chrysanthemums, or any other flower in the daisy family, do not use chamomile.
- Chamomile may stimulate uterine contractions. Do not use if you're pregnant.
- Do not use chamomile if you have asthma. It may worsen the condition.
- Inhaling chamomile essential oil may cause drowsiness and extreme relaxation. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until this effect wears off.
Chamomile may interact with:
- Blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin and aspirin
- Sedatives, such as antidepressants, insomnia drugs, barbiturates, and alcohol
- Blood pressure medications
- Diabetes medications
- Herbs that are sedatives or that lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, or thin the blood
Inhaling chamomile essential oil or applying it to your skin may not increase your risk of drug interactions in the same way ingesting chamomile would. Still, it's still best to err on the side of caution.
A Soothing Herbal Remedy
Chamomile is known for being a calming, soothing herb. Research on its effectiveness to treat many conditions is promising although researchers need to investigate more before it becomes mainstream. Thanks to its sedative, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant abilities, chamomile oil deserves a place in almost any home medicine cabinet.