The mention of the word chamomile evokes a vivid imagination of the fairly small white and yellow flowers in their bloom of youth. Their bright colors shinning with warmth and full brightness in the gleams of the evening sunshine. Not to mention their delightfully calming herbal scent that can sooth your spirit to a moment of tranquility. Actually, the ancient Egyptians believed that chamomile can be used to attract nature spirits. Old myths also associate the herbaceous plant with calmness, prosperity and love.
The history of chamomile can be traced in ancient Greek and Egypt. The Greeks commonly referred to the herb as “ground apple” because of its aroma. Greek mythology classifies chamomile among the nine sacred herbs that the word received from the gods. The ancient Egyptians also associated chamomile with religious sanctification. They believed that the “sacred plant” was a precious gift to their sun god Ra. According to the beliefs of ancient Germans, chamomile is a holy herb. Accordingly, they devoted it to a god that was known as Balntour.
Chamomile is a herbal plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The plant originated in the southern and eastern areas of Europe. However, today it has spread widely in many areas around the globe. For example, it is grown in North Africa, America, New Zealand, Australia, and in the entire Europe. The plant is classified into two broad categories; the German and the Roman Chamomile
The German Chamomile is also known as Matricaria Recutita in Latin. Its primary difference from the Roman Chamomile is the aroma. Generally, its aroma is less pronounced. The plant growths up to a length of 6 inches. It produces ferny-like delicate leaves and its flowers produce and apple-like aroma. The middle part of its flowers is yellow in color whereas their florets are white in color with even spacing between them. The essential oil obtained from the German chamomile is blue because of elevated levels of azulene.
The Roman Chamomile is also known as Chamaemelum Noble in Latin. Roman chamomile has a strong scent and it grows up to a height of four inches. The plant does well in relatively hot climate and it cannot stand harsh winters. Its leaves are thicker and less delicate when compared to those of the German Chamomile. In addition, its flowers are similar to those of the German Chamomile. However, Roman Chamomile flowers attract more insects during pollination because of their strong aroma. The essential oil obtained from Roman Chamomile flowers is clear in color because of low levels of azulene.
Despite the differences associated with the two varieties, they serve the same medicinal, cosmetic and cooking purposes. They are rich in properties that induce mental and emotional stillness. Both varieties are used to prepare tea.
Traditional Uses of Chamomile
Chamomile was used in many cultures to sooth spirits. It was widely believed that its aroma calmed-down unruly spirits. Many people sprinkled water infused with chamomile on their property to chase away evil spirits. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Germans added chamomile in love portions and concoctions because they believed that it fostered love and prosperity. Accordingly, it was also used to attract luck during money-making affairs such as gambling.
Since the ancient times, many societies have used chamomile for therapeutic purposes. Notably, Greek physicians and pharmacologists prescribed the herb to patients suffering from nervous conditions, liver problems, anxiety and depression, and stomach problems. Furthermore, the herb was used to treat women menstrual problems and kidney stones. Chamomile flowers were used by the Ancient Egyptians and Greeks to treat xerosis and erythema. Sick people were advised to ease pain by bathing in chamomile water. Chamomile water is a tonic that induces calmness and relaxation in the body. People used chamomile in their homes for culinary purposes. The most common traditional cooking practice associated with chamomile is the preparation of infused tea.
When it comes to beauty, people from ancient Greek and Egypt used chamomile for hair and skin treatment. It was perceived as an effective remedy for skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis. It was also used to cure abscesses and boils. Many women relied on chamomile to treat a variety of hair condition. It eliminated hair problems such as dandruff and psoriasis. Traditional royals added more beauty to their fragrant lawns and flower gardens by planting chamomile.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile oil is derived from the flowers (white and yellow parts) of the chamomile plant. The oil is obtained through two approaches that include steam distillation and extraction through the use of super critical carbon dioxide. The essential oil obtained from the German variety has a dark blue shade that fades with age. On the other hand, essential oil obtained from the Roman variety is almost clear. Chamomile oil produces a sweet herbaceous aroma that has a fruity undertone. Generally, chamomile oil is highly concentrated and it can be nauseating and unpleasant to some people. Essential oil obtained from the Roman Chamomile has the stronger scent.
Beauty Benefits of Chamomile Essential Oil
Overall, the uses and benefits of chamomile oil are based on its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, sedative, anti-catarrhal, spasmolytic, carminative, bacteriostatic and deodorant properties. Sedative, carminative, antiemetic and antispasmodic properties are mainly associated with the Roman Chamomile.
Chamomile is an effective skin moisturizer: It is commonly used to treat skin conditions such as excessive dryness, inflammation and irritation. The skin soothing abilities of chamomile oil are linked to a component referred to as chamazulene. Chamazulene makes chamomile an excellent remedy from treating wounds and inflammations. Chamomile is used to tone the skin because it has strong stringent properties.
Chamomile is used to moisturize hair: When used regularly, it adds color and radiance to hair. In addition, it fights dandruff successfully. There are many ways in which chamomile can be used for hair. It can be added to hair oils, masks and hair treatments. Furthermore, chamomile tea can also be used to rinse hair. The tea is used to nourish hair and reduce scalp irritation.
tion of Chamomile baths: Chamomile oil is used to prepare chamomile baths. Chamomile baths are used to treat illnesses such as itchy skin, stress and anxiety, premenstrual syndrome and colds.
Preparation of food and drinks: Chamomile flowers are commonly added to tea, herbal beer and tisane. Chamomile tea is very common worldwide. In some places, people add fresh chamomile flowers to salads and juices. For example, chamomile lemonade is a common refreshing juice that is mainly consumed in the summer. Chamomile essential oil and flower extracts are added to food for extra flavor. In addition, the essential oil is used to coat foot products because of its antimicrobial properties.
To prepare chamomile tea, add a full teaspoon of chamomile flowers into 150 ml of boiling water. Cover the mixture and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before passing it through a sieve. You can use the tea by consuming it orally or applying it externally. External application of chamomile tea reduces inflammations. On the other hand, oral consumption of chamomile tea is linked to spasm-reduction effects.
Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is a healing process that involves the inhalation of vapors obtained from essential oils. In most cases, a few drops of chamomile essential oil are rubbed on a piece of cloth and a patient inhales the aroma slowly. Chamomile oil can also be added to hot water and the vapor inhaled by patients to induce calmness and relaxation.
Massage: When chamomile is used for massage, its compounds penetrate deep into the skin where they eventually find their way to the bloodstream. However, chamomile oil must be diluted with carrier oils such as olive and sunflower before application.
Treatment of inflammations: The anti-inflammatory activity of the essential oil obtained from the German Chamomile is well documented. Topical application of the oil treats inflammations successfully. As stated early, the oil contains a powerful component known as chamazulene that acts on skin inflammations. It is responsible for the oil’s blue shade. Multiple studies have revealed that chamomile oil has strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects. Accordingly, it fights the agents that cause inflammations successfully.
Liver Tonic: Chamomile oil is used to facilitate detoxification in the liver. Furthermore it promotes the regeneration of cells in the liver. The activity of chamomile in the liver can be enhanced by using it together with lemon and rosemary essential oils.
Treats anxiety and Depression: The sedative properties associated with chamomile make it an ideal choice for inducing calmness and relaxation in the body. People suffering from depression and other stress-related disorders are advised to inhale the aroma of the oil for relaxation purposes. Once the aroma is inhaled into the internal body system, it acts on the nervous system to reduce anxiety.
Cures digestive system problems: Indigestion, dyspepsia and colic are the common digestive system problems that can be treated with chamomile oil. Chamomile’s ability to heal gastrointestinal problems is linked compounds knowns as anodyne. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties facilitates its usefulness when it comes to dispelling stomach gas and alleviating enteritis and stomatitis.
The table below highlights more health conditions that can be treated with chamomile essential oil.
|Health Condition||Benefits Derived from Chamomile|
|Alcohol Withdrawal||Chamomile induces calmness Nerve tonic|
|Asthma||Facilitates effective breathing Inhaling chamomile oil opens up the airways|
|Diarrhea||Reliefs diarrhea Chamomile is also used to stimulate digestion|
|Bunions||Application of chamomile oil and extracts leads to pain reduction Facilitates wound healing|
|Epilepsy||Chamomile is used to sooth the moods of epileptic individuals|
|Boils||Topical application of chamomile oil and extracts promotes boil healing by fighting the bacteria that causes the infection|
|Cuts and skin injuries||Chamomile repairs damaged skin by promoting cell regeneration. Apply diluted chamomile oil on the affected area and you will notice significant change after sometime.|
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