a for Anthemis ~ Chamomile

the camomile the more it is trodden on the faster it grows

Shakespeare

Who hasn’t heard of chamomile? But is it ‘Roman’, ‘Moroccan’, or ‘German’ chamomile that’s in your tea?

Whatever name you may know it by: Roman, Common, Sweet, True, English, Noble, Garden chamomile or camomile; Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile, is the chamomile of British history, and is one of Britain’s oldest known medicinal herbs. In Culpeper’s Herbal of 1826, he writes

It is so well known everywhere, that it is but lost time and labour to describe it

Maybe it’s time for us to get to know it again.
Each species has it’s own very different chemical fingerprint, but despite this, the plants are often used interchangeably. ‘Chamazulene’ is present in both German and Roman chamomile essential oils, giving them a distinctive blue colour and many therapeutic properties. Its antioxidant powers are twice that of ascorbic acid (which is often used as a food preservative), meaning that chamomile oil is particularly good at protecting our bodies from the stress and toxins that quite often go hand in hand with modern life.

Chamazulene’s proven anti-inflammatory activity underpins the use of chamomile to treat conditions such as eczema (after 3-4 weeks, the use of chamomile cream was found to be as effective as hydrocortisone), rheumatism, dermatitis, arthritis, gastritis. In fact, a large number of conditions ending in ‘-itis’, which literally means inflammation.

Scientifically, inflammation is “the reaction of living tissue to injury/infection, with increased blood supply to the affected area, which becomes red, hot, painful and swollen”. However, the Collins English Dictionary gives a wider picture:

to arouse or to become aroused to violent emotion; to increase or intensify; aggravate; to set or be set on fire; to cause to redden

Chamomile can be thought of as an ANTI-inflammatory in ALL senses of the word. If we think of feeling aggression and frustration: our muscles tense; the natural flow through the body is impeded resulting in nausea and cramps; our minds become hot and busy; sleep becomes restless. Now think of chamomile’s blue oil, gently calming the feverish heat of the body and emotions; relaxing the muscles; soothing the pain; settling a queasy stomach, soothing ulcers, and aiding both solids and air to blow freely through the digestive system, allowing us to fully ‘digest’ our situation; healing our wounds whilst its nervine, sedative and antidepressant properties relieve stress on the nerves and mind, allowing restful sleep.

As the medical world faces new challenges, chamomile’s historic uses are being further researched, leading to findings that a component, Farnesol, is effective against the bacteria that causes periodontitis; Candida (Thrush) and strains of Staphylococcus. This, combined with the fungicidal properties of other components makes Roman Chamomile an effective anti-microbial agent. Farnesol, was also found to preferentially bring about the death of leukaemic cells.

Roman Chamomile has a very low toxicity, and is highly suitable for children; with its use being indicated for wakeful and restless children; in cases of peevishness; temper tantrums; over-sensitivity; colic; gastric spasms; asthma; teething pains; earaches; nappy rash and other inflammatory or painful conditions; or, in the case of Peter Rabbit, to soothe them after a run-in with Mr. McGregor. Roman Chamomile is one of the safest essential oils, however, this gentle, calming oil, may, in some individuals result in dermatitis, this risk is higher in individuals with hypersensitivity to ragweed.

After taking care of the child, ‘Mother Herb’ as it is known in German, turns around and looks after mum. Whether it be easing menstrual cramps or period pains; scanty/irregular or excessive menstruation; vomiting in pregnancy; menopausal problems; cystitis; thrush or other vaginal irritation; Roman Chamomile can be with us, soothing and calming, every step of the way.

And so, now on to the best part:

How to use Essential Oil of Roman Chamomile at home?

As a Hot or Cold Compress:

A very useful tool in your first-aid cupboard. Add 4 or 5 drops of essential oil to a bowl of very hot (for backache, rheumatism, arthritis, abscesses, earache, toothache) or cold (for headaches, sprains, strains) water. Dip in a piece of folded cotton cloth or flannel, squeeze out the excess water and apply to the affected area until it reaches blood temperature, then repeat.

In a Massage Oil:

Generally, due to their potency, essential oils are not used undiluted (with the exceptions of Lavender and Tea Tree). Almost any vegetable oil can be used as a ‘base’ or ‘carrier ‘oil, though cold pressed and unrefined are preferential to chip fat and avoid petroleum/mineral based oils as they block the pores. Every base oil has its own unique properties, an oil such as almond, is very light to use (but heavy on the pocket). There is nothing to say that you can’t pop down to your kitchen and reach for the olive or grapeseed oil, or use a bland cream or lotion from the bathroom. To every 10ml of base oil add 2 to 6 drops of essential oil (less is often more).This can then be used in massage to treat sore, aching muscles, or irritated skin conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, acne, boils, rashes, burns or insect bites.

* For babies over 3 months and young children, whose skin is much more sensitive, try using 2 drops of essential oil in 100ml of base oil. This can then be used during massage of the stomach for relieving colic (always in a clockwise direction); used sparingly during nappy change for soothing and treating the bacteria that cause nappy rash; or along the lower jaw line to the ear for teething. Do not rub the oil near the eyes or on the hands of your child.

In the bath:

For restless or wakeful children, 1 drop(for babies over 3 months old) or 2 drops(for young children) of Roman Chamomile oil can be added to 20mls of milk and agitated before adding to a bath, helping the oil disperse in the water thus avoiding contact with undiluted oil. Even though Roman Chamomile oil is a very mild oil, it is best not to be used as a matter of course, but only when needed.

* Not only children benefit from an Aroma-bath. Culpeper writes that bathing with chamomile “taketh away weariness, easeth pains”; “comforteth the sinews that are over-strained, mollifieth all swellings”; add to that – treatment of anxiety, stress and insomnia; and you’ll soon be reaching to add 5 to 10 drops of oil to a full bath. The addition of just 2 drops of Chamomile oil to a shallow bath can prove to be an easy and straightforward way to treat certain more sensitive areas that may be affected by Thrush/Candida or Cystitis.

In shampoo:

A few drops of chamomile oil added to a mild shampoo can help condition your hair, encourage its healthy growth and has a reputation for lightening it.

Vaporization:

A great way to calm whole rooms and their inhabitants or treat ailments such as asthma. You can buy a purpose built vaporisor, or, you can place a couple of drops of essential oil, in a small bowl of water, on a radiator (as long as it’s not an electric one). Remember to keep all burners (or bowls) out of the reach of children or pets.

I hope you’ve found this article useful, and remember, if you have any further questions, or would like to book your own aromatherapy massage, please do not hesitate to contact me

email equilibrium.therapies@yahoo.co.uk

References

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Image Creator : SHEHAD, Meg Year : 2013
Title : Blue Yarrow Lrg
Format : [Online Image] URL : http://www.gritman.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BlueYarrowLrg.png
Accessed : April 2015

Other images courtesy of Anja Osenberg; John Hain; Trang Huyen; Marge Nauer; Falco & others via pixabay.com