Reprinted with the kind permission of Dr. Mercola
Aside from being famous in teas, the German chamomile plant is also praised for its healing effects in various herbal applications. As a matter of fact, Germans often refer to it as "alles zutraut," which means "capable of anything." It's also been mistakenly referred to as the "European ginseng," given its cure-all capabilities. But could the same be with German chamomile oil? Read on to learn why you'll soon want a bottle of this essential oil for you and your family.
What Is German Chamomile Oil?
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), which is often referred to as blue chamomile or true chamomile, comes from the Compositae sunflower family. It is one of the two chamomile species that can be used medicinally. The other one is the Roman or English chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).
This plant, which hails from Southern and Eastern parts of Europe, grows from 6 centimeters up to 60 centimeters (2.3 to 23.5 inches) tall with heavily branched and furrowed stems. Like Roman chamomile oil, German chamomile essential oil is extracted either through solvent extraction or steam distillation of its golden yellow flowers that have ray-like blossoms.
Uses of German Chamomile Oil
German chamomile oil is broadly used in the cosmetic industry, especially in formulations designed to improve dry, inflamed or irritated skin. It is also added in shampoos and conditioners. Other practical uses of German chamomile oil include:1
• Hair moisturizer — Blend two drops of German chamomile oil, rosemary oil, and lavender oil with 4 tablespoons of sweet almond oil. Massage it onto your hair and scalp once a week. For best results, leave it on overnight.
• Moisturizing skin mist — To make your own natural skin mist, blend two drops of German chamomile oil, two drops of lavender oil, one drop of rose otto oil and 4 ounces of purified water in a ready-to-spray bottle. This natural moisturizing mist will surely be handy for your sunbathing sessions.
• May help relieve migraine — Moisten a towel with cool water and add a few drops of German chamomile oil. Place the damp cloth on your forehead, close your eyes and relax.
• May provide relief from joint pain or tense, stiff and cramping muscles —Blend 2 tablespoons of sweet almond oil and two drops of German chamomile oil and rosemary oil. Massage this blend onto the affected areas to ease up the tensed muscles and increase circulation.
• Skin toner — German chamomile oil has astringent properties, which makes it ideal for pore-cleansing treatment. Simply add the essential oil to your own homemade facial cleanser and apply using cotton balls.2
Composition of German Chamomile Oil
Some of the most important chemical components of German chamomile oil are sesquiterpenes, 36 flavonoids, coumarins and polyacetylenes. Other constituents include chamazulene (which has antiseptic capabilities), as well as 28 terpenoids and 52 additional compounds with potential pharmacological activity that gives it antimicrobial and fungistatic capabilitiesfarnesene, sesquiterpenes, cadinene, furfural, spanthulenol, and proazulenes (matricarin and matricin).3
Chamazulene (or azulen when isolated), which provides German chamomile oil its deep bluish color, is formed from matricin during steam distillation. Prolonged storage and light exposure destroys this effect. This often results in a lighter blue color, which can turn into a pale green, yellow or even brown shade.
When it's still fresh, German chamomile oil has a viscous quality and has a sweet, herbaceous scent with fruity undertones. However, in its concentrated and dried-out form, German chamomile oil can sometimes be nauseating and unpleasant for some individuals. German chamomile oil blends well with rose oil, lavender oil, cedar oil, neroli oil and geranium oil.
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Benefits of German Chamomile Oil
German chamomile oil has carminative, antispasmodic, mild sedative, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anticatarrhal properties (or helps the body remove excess mucus). This beneficial essential oil penetrates deep into the layers of your skin where its potent anti-inflammatory action can restore and soothe irritated skin, mouth ulcers, burns, bruises and other skin conditions.
Aside from possibly helping lift up your mood and letting go of your anxieties, German chamomile oil has other reported benefits when used in tandem with other essential oils in aromatherapy. See list below: 4
USE IN COMBINATION WITH
Lavender oil, helichrysum oil, vetiver oil, patchouli oil, peppermint oil, spearmint oil and rose oil
Peppermint oil, sandalwood oil, rose oil, lavender oil
When taken orally, German chamomile oil can produce profound healing effects in colitis, gastritis, infections of the small intestines and colic. However, I strongly recommend consulting your doctor first before taking any essential oil internally to avoid complications.
How to Make German Chamomile Oil
German chamomile oil is produced by putting the flower heads of Matricaria chamomile through steam distillation or solvent extraction. During the steam distillation process, which is the most common and oldest extraction method used for essential oils, going as far back as 5,000 years ago, the botanical material is placed in a still and is subjected to extremely high temperatures in order to extract the essential oil.
Meanwhile, in solvent extraction, solvents such as petroleum ether, methanol, ethanol or hexane are used to extract the odoriferous lipophilic material from the plant. The solvent will also pull out the chlorophyll and other plant tissue, resulting in a highly colored or thick, viscous extract. Solvent extraction is used for jasmine, tuberose, carnation, gardenia, jonquil, violet leaf, narcissus, mimosa and other delicate flowers.5
How Does German Chamomile Oil Work?
German chamomile oil gets its deep blue hue from its azulene content. Azulene is the main active substance in this essential oil and has a fever-reducing quality, which is why it is often used in many pharmaceutical preparations.
Although also present in Roman chamomile oil, azulene is found in far greater quantities in German chamomile oil. This is why German chamomile oil is preferred by many for various medicinal purposes.6 Here are some helpful applications to get the most out of German chamomile oil's therapeutic benefits:
Shingles — Use topically as a poultice. Combine 10 drops of German chamomile oil, two drops of geranium oil, four drops of bergamot oil, six drops of balm, and five drops of lavender. Mix it in water to use as a compress or in 1 3/4 fluid ounces of almond oil.
Allergic reactions — Apply topically on the affected area with balm for instant relief.
Open leg sores, wounds, hemorrhoids, mastitis, eczemas, gingivitis and ingrown nails — Use topically as a poultice, salve or compress. To make a compress, take a damp cloth, add a few drops of German chamomile oil, and place it on top of the affected area with the essential oil facing away from the skin. This way, the oil's healing properties will seep into the cloth without putting the skin at risk of any potential hypersensitivity.
Anogenital disorders — Add in baths and irrigation.
Inflammation and irritation of the respiratory tract — By inhalation.
Menstrual cramps — Take a five-minute sitz bath (a warm, shallow bath that cleanses your perineum, the space between your rectum and the vulva or scrotum) in a gallon of warm water with two drops of German chamomile and lavender oil.
Candida infection — Can help alleviate itching caused by yeast fungus in the vaginal area by having a warm sitz bath regularly until your condition improves. Add one drop of German chamomile oil and two drops of tea tree oil in a gallon of warm water.
Is German Chamomile Oil Safe?
Unfortunately, the German chamomile plant is frequently treated with the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, which was used during the Vietnam War, to harvest its flowers easily. Residues of this potentially dangerous substance can oftentimes still be traced in the German chamomile oil. This is why I recommend buying from reputable suppliers who uses only organic raw materials in the production of their essential oils.
Because of German chamomile oil's coumarin constituents, I also advise against taking it orally if you are taking anticoagulant drugs or blood thinners like warfarin, as it may interfere with your current therapy.
Side Effects of German Chamomile Oil
Never use German chamomile oil during pregnancy as it may induce menstruation and/or premature labor due to its emmenagogue and uterotonic side effects.7
Although there are no existing cases of allergic reactions or hypersensitivity linked to the proper use of German chamomile oil, I still suggest avoiding this essential oil if you have a known allergy to any plant from the Asteraceae or Compositae family to prevent any untoward reactions.
If you are not sure whether you're allergic to it or not, a skin patch test is advised. Apply German chamomile oil on a small portion of your skin and wait for a few hours. If irritation occurs, discontinue use immediately.
Sources and References
1 Llewellyn’s Complete Formulary of Magical Oils: Over 1,200 Recipes, Potions, and Tinctures for Everyday Use, September 2012
2 Natural Beauty, February 2015 p.29
3 Pharmacognosy Review. January 2011
4 Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice Second Edition, July 2012
5 National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
6 Complete Aromatherapy Handbook: Essential Oils for Radiant Health, June 30, 1991, pp.83-85
7 Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, January 01, 2006, pp.150-154
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