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Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is a fragrant herb with daisy-like flowers.1 The two most common varieties are German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman Chamomile (classified as Anthemis nobile, as well as Chamaemelum nobile).1

Both varieties are native to Africa, Europe and Asia and have been used for medicinal purposes for more than 5000 years; making chamomile one of the most ancient herbal remedies still used today.2

Chamomile essential oil is made from the flowers, often through a distillation process. Distillation involves steam passing through the flowers, which vaporizes the volatile compounds. The vapor is then captured and re-condensed to become the essential oil.

The aroma of German chamomile essential oil is often described as sweet, reminiscent of apples, and can linger for hours. Roman chamomile essential oil has a floral aroma and dissipates more quickly.

Uses for Chamomile Essential Oil

While the two kinds of chamomile essential oil (German and Roman) have their own strengths, they can generally be used interchangeably. Popular uses of chamomile essential oil include:

Digestive Aid
To help relieve gastric bloating and gas, add 3-4 drops of chamomile essential oil to 2 ounces of carrier oil. Put several drops of the combined oil on the skin near the belly button. Using a circular motion, spread the oil around the lower abdomen until absorbed.

Add 3-4 drops of chamomile essential oil to 3 Tbsp. of unscented lotion. Apply small amounts to hands, arms, torso, legs and feet and massage into the skin to retain moisture and boost circulation.3

For acne-prone skin, add 5 drops of chamomile essential oil (German or Roman) to unscented castile or glycerine soap.3

Sleep Aid
Diffuse 4-5 drops of chamomile essential oil at bedtime to help fall asleep faster and improve overall quality of sleep. Chamomile has been for years as a sleep aid and is widely considered to help induce sedation. 

Put several drops of chamomile essential oil in a diffuser for aromatherapy to reduce stress and anxiety.5

Add 2-4 drops of chamomile essential oil to massage oil to improve circulation and help relax the mind and body.5

Migraine Relief
Reduce the discomfort of migraine headaches by adding 2-4 drops of chamomile essential oil to a cool, damp cloth. Lay the cloth against closed eyes for 10-15 minutes.2,5

Pain Relief
Add 6-8 drops of chamomile essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil. Place a small amount of the diluted oil on irritated joints or muscles. Gently massage the area until the oil is absorbed. For an additional soothing experience, add 3 drops of rosemary essential oil.2

Soothing Bath 
Add 4-5 drops of chamomile essential oil and 2-3 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath for fast stress relief and to help soothe sore muscles.

Chamomile Essential Oil Benefits

Chamomile essential oil and its benefits are well-studied and widely considered to have positive effects on human cells and physiology. The following are some of the most notable findings.

In a study of essential oils used to combat P. acnes bacteria (the common cause of acne in teens and adults), chamomile essential oil was proven to completely kill the bacteria after 20 minutes of exposure.3

In comparison, rosethymecinnamon and lavender essential oils killed the bacteria in 5 minutes; grapefruit and lemon essential oil in 30 minutes; and ginger essential oil in 45 minutes.3 

Chamomile essential oil can be used as a natural anti-inflammatory for joints and muscles because it contains a high number and variety of flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their vibrant colours and have been shown to demonstrate anti-inflammatory benefits.2

Anti-Cancer Properties
Chamomile essential oil has been shown to help eliminate (to some degree) the cancerous cells PC-3 (a prostate cancer cell) and MCF-7 (a breast cancer cell) when high concentrations come into direct contact with the cells.3

In a 2010 study, chamomile essential oil demonstrated anti-cancer activity against PC-3 cells; killing over 96% of cells that came in direct contact with high concentrations of the oil. Tested on MCF-7 cells, the high concentration of chamomile essential oil killed approximately 92% of the cancer cells.3

While these findings are promising, more research is necessary before chamomile, and other essential oils, can be used in cancer treatment.

Sleep Induction/Sedation
In a clinical study, inhalation of chamomile essential oil was shown to decrease levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), a by-product of stress. It’s thought that other active compounds may also bind to GABA neuroreceptors, further increasing feelings of sedation.2

chamomile essential oil uses and benefits

Side Effects of Chamomile Essential Oil

Chamomile essential oil is generally considered safe when diluted and used properly.7
Always read and follow the directions on the label to avoid adverse effects.

Consult with a health care practitioner before using chamomile essential oil on children, pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Essential oils should not be ingested unless under the direct supervision of a qualified professional.

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. Chamomile. (2008, April 2).New World Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 19, 2017 from http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/p/index.php?title=Chamomile&oldid=678688 – View reference
  2. Srivastava, J.K., Shankar, E., & Gupta, S. (2010). Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future.Molecular medicine reports3(6), 895-901. doi:3892/mmr.2010.377.
  3. Zu, Y., Yu, H., Liang, L., Fu, Y., Efferth, T., Liu, X., & Wu, N. (2010). Activities of Ten Essential Oils towardsPropionibacterium acnes and PC-3, A-549 and MCF-7 Cancer Cells. Molecules. 15(5), 3200-3210. doi:3390/molecules15053200.
  4. Almeida, E. C. de, & Menezes, H. (2002). Anti-inflammatory activity of propolis extracts: a review.Journal of Venomous Animals and Toxins8(2), 191-212. https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0104-79302002000200002
  5. Mossa, M., Howartha, R., Wilkinsona, L., & Wesnesa, K. (2006). Expectancy and the aroma of Roman chamomile influence mood and cognition in healthy volunteers. International Journal of Aromatherapy, 16 (2), 63–73. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijat.2006.04.002
  6. Kato, A., Minoshima, Y., Yamamoto, J., Adachi, I., Watson, A. A., & Nash, R. J. (2008). Protective Effects of Dietary Chamomile Tea on Diabetic Complications [Abstract]. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(17), 8206-8211. doi:1021/jf8014365
  7. Poison Control, National Capital Poison Center. (n.d.). Essential Oils: Poisonous when Misused. Retrieved February 20, 2017 from http://www.poison.org/articles/2014-jun/essential-oils%20. – View reference