German Chamomile Essential Oils: Anti-Inflammatory Properties
by Tonya Banbury
Essential oils [EO] are highly concentrated compounds extracted from plants. Playing a very important role in plant metabolism, EOs serve to attract beneficial insects as pollinators, which ensures plant survival and defense against harmful microorganisms. EOs allow plants to send and receive signals and communicate with one another. As gardeners, these statements are no stretch for our belief systems—we are well aware of the powers inherent in the plant kingdom.
Years ago, I used Chamomile flowers as a rinse for my blond hair. Even better known is its use as a calming tea used to ensure a good night’s sleep. It’s this latter application that is strongly associated with the effect of German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, at the essential oil [EO] level.
With the help of mass spectrometry in combination with gas chromatography, we can exactly measure the chemical profile of EOs. These analytical tools have identified the chamazulene and other components that combine to give German Chamomile its anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic effectiveness.
Acute conditions such as burns or allergic rashes react immediately to treatment with German Chamomile, making this oil useful in the kitchen. Astounding results have been observed when one or two drops of this oil are applied directly on a burn and ice is placed on top; virtually all traces of the burn disappear by the next morning!
For a hay fever treatment, German Chamomile EO can be combined with Myrtle, Myrtus communis, and Creeping Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis var. decumbens, and used in a diffuser.
Oils with strong anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties, such as German Chamomile, have also found their way into aromatherapeutic skin care. There’s a lot of confusion in the trade about which oils can be called “chamomile.” Take care to study the labels and correctly identify the genus and species of the EO you wish to buy.
Also consider the quality of the oil and look for clues as to impurities that can actually impede wound healing. Only true Chamomile oils actually distilled from Chamomile plants should be used.
Finally, when shopping for Chamomile EO, you’re sure to see Roman Chamomile, Anthemis nobilis, as well as German. They are often described as similar or as more or less identical. However, the differences are more pronounced in the essential oils of these plants than in their alcohol extracts or teas. TB 2010
Tonya Banbury is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer with Mecklenburg County, NC. Her series of articles on Medicinal Herbs: Essential Oils is based upon documented research and personal usage experience.
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