Chamomile is the king of chillin' out. Just about anyone who reads this website regularly has heard of it, in one of its many available forms. NaturalNews has articles on the many benefits of chamomile tea, and some that discuss chamomilla, the homeopathy remedy that comes from chamomile. When it comes to the essential oil, there are more choices as there are several varieties used in aromatherapy. Their medicinal properties overlap to a large extent, with the two most common varieties being Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile.
Chamomile has a long history in folk medicine, and is also one of few herbs to be recognized by mainstream medicine. Its popularity is widespread for uses such as stomach upset, relaxing nerves and anxiety, insomnia, cystitis, and children's ailments ranging from hyperactivity to teething pain. The essential oil is antibacterial, antiseptic, analgesic, carminative, digestive, nervine, emmenagogue, disinfectant, and anti-inflammatory.
While chamomile is helpful for a wide range of physical ailments, it also treats the emotions that accompany those ailments. For example, a nervous, cramping stomach often comes with a grumpy, discontented, morose feelings. This psychological state indicates the need for chamomile, which will relieve both the mental and physical symptoms. When experiencing anger and melancholy, reach for gentle chamomile oil rather than comfort foods.
Indispensable for childrenChamomile is the traditional go-to natural treatment for children. Because children are emotional beings, it is very important to consider the emotional component behind their behaviors, ailments, and attitudes. They too have days when they feel impatient, disagreeable, or tense. When little Johnny comes home from school with a tummy ache, find out if he ate something that didn't agree with him, or if he was uncomfortable going to the bathroom, or a peer hurt his feelings. 90 percent of the time, there is an emotional component, andwill soothe those feelings.
Chamomile is one of the first medicines used in life because it is gentle enough to use on infants. Historic colic treatments, often called "gripewater" include chamomile. Chamomile is also used to relieve the pain and symptoms of teething. A few drops in a bath will relax children and adults alike, easing the transition to sleep. Chamomile is also indicated for children who cling to their parents, wake up in the night or have nightmares, or want to be held and walked a lot. Give chamomile tea, put some in a compress, use it in a massage, or burn it in an aroma lamp in the child's bedroom.
Chamomile is also effective support during pregnancy, easing fears, tension, and restlessness. Use in a bath or massage, and consider mixing with rose. Never use "blue chamomile" (which is really a variety of mugwort) during pregnancy as it is a powerful emmenagogue. Other uses for women include help with PMS, irregular menstruation, bloating, headaches, and menopausal challenges such as hot flashes. Chamomile tea is good for urinary tract health and in preventing bladder and kidney stones.
Additional uses of chamomile oilThe essential oil of chamomile is associated with amber, a yellowish precious stone. Parents often place amber necklaces on their teething or colicky babies. Amber, known to relieve tension and cramps, is one of the oldest traditionally used healing stones. It has been used for centuries to help remedy fevers, earaches, sore throats, and gall bladder problems. It is thought to absorb negative vibrations. Use with chamomile compliments both.
Chamomile is effective at soothing skin inflammation issues. Use it to treat burns, sunburn, eczema, psoriasis. Internal inflammatory challenges eased by chamomile include asthma, hay fever, fever, strains, and sprains. It is also useful in treating nausea, diarrhea, and all nervous and depressive states. Use it in situations that call for an analgesic, diuretic, or sedative. Chamomile's calming properties make it desirable for kicking the tranquilizer habit, and for disorders such as anorexia nervosa. Apply a cold compress (not a massage or hot compress) to muscle pain, inflamed joints such as arthritis, inflamed tendons, bursitis.
Chamomile is wonderful to use on pets. Whether you need toa cat during a thunder storm or help a dog or horse take the edge off their nerves so you can work on them, chamomile is handy.
Roman vs. GermanAll the chamomiles are soothing, relaxing, and anti-inflammatory. Both are steam distilled from the flowers of their respective plants. The process of steam distillation causes a reaction with the constituents in German chamomile, turning thea beautiful blue color. German chamomile is an especially strong anti-inflammatory, useful for internal and external conditions. It can be used in a hot compress for boils, abscesses, infected cuts, ingrown nails, splinters, gingivitis, and tooth abscesses. To treat an internal condition, use tea, massage or compress over affected area, such as the digestive tract for things like colitis, gastritis, and chronic diarrhea. Chamomile will also ease the emotions that accompany such conditions. With a more penetrating and intense fragrance than the Roman variety, German chamomile tones the walls of fine capillaries, helping reduce redness and inflammation, making it appropriate for hemorrhoids, rosacea, varicose veins, and other broken capillaries as well as allergic reactions. It helps with stomach pain and heartburn caused by nervousness.
Roman chamomile is the one most often used on kids and pets, outlined above. Not as blue as its German counterpart, use this one for acne or psoriasis with roots in stress, indigestion and stomach upset due to anxiety, and for insomnia or mood swings. Use Roman chamomile in an aroma lamp to relieve allergies.
Chamomile is widely used by the cosmetics industry in shampoos, conditioners, and products for dry, irritated skin. It combines well with lavender, neroli, rose, benzoe, or geranium oils. Example: mix Roman chamomile with bergamot for psoriasis, mix German chamomile with bergamot and lavender for shingles. (Either works in both cases, but the one indicated works a bit better.) 10 drops of the chamomile, five of the other oils, in one and a half ounces of almond oil for a poultice. The properties of chamomile overlap somewhat with lavender. A tip is to use lavender for pain that is sharp or piercing, and chamomile for pain that is dull and achy. It is never advisable to use one oil continuously for more than two or three weeks, so mix it up.
Chamomile is safe, effective, inexpensive, and readily available. Research who or where to buy it from as some suppliers use Agent Orange as a defoliant, which leaves a toxic residue in the oil. Otherwise, buy organic. When you want to heal the cause as well as the symptoms of your imbalance, consider chamomile. It's a great addition to most natural treatment programs and medicine cabinets.
Sources for this article include:
Fischer-Rizzi, Susanne. Complete Aromatherapy Handbook. Sterling Publishing Co, New York 1990. p. 80-85.
Davis, Patricia. Aromatherapy: An A-Z. Barnes and Noble Books, New York 1995. P. 64-66.
Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy. New World Library, San Rafael, CA, 1991. P. 20.