Alternative Medicine: Chamomile

Alternative Medicine

 


Chamomile: German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Romen, or English Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)

There are two plants known as chamomile. One is the German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), while the other is called the Roman, or English chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). Generally, Herbalists consider German chamomile to be the stronger acting of the two.

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Using Chamomile as an ingredient in skin care products

 

What is Chamomile

ChamomileAbout 120 chemical constituents have been identified in chamomile as secondary metabolites, including 28 terpenoids, 36 flavonoids, and 52 additional compounds with potential pharmacological activity (Salamon, 1997). Studies have also shown that German chamomile has strong antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. While Roman chamomile is used for anxiety, stress and other nervous system disorders as well as muscular spasms, etc.

Where does Chamomile come from

Roman chamomile is a creeping, herbaceous perennial, native to northwestern Europe and North Africa. It creeps close to the ground and can reach up to 30cm in height, while German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is native to Europe and western Asia and naturalized in North America (UMM, 2009).

What are the properties in Chamomile

The medicinal use of chamomile date back to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks.

German chamomile is often used topically in a cream or ointment to soothe irritated skin, because of its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Evidence suggests that it may be moderately effective in the treatment of eczema.

The essential oil of Roman chamomile consists chiefly of chamazulene, angelic acid, tiglic acid, and several sesquiterpene lactones. Other constituents of Roman chamomile include anthemic acid, athesterol, anthemene, resin and tannin. The essential oil of German chamomile contains chamazulene, -bisabolol, -bisabololaxides A and B, spathulenol cis-En-yn-dicycloether and farnesene. Other constituents of German chamomile include a volatile oil, anthemic acid, antheminidine, tannin, matricarin, and apigenin (Purdue University, 1997).

Using of Chamomile in Skin Care Products

Chamomile is renowned as a major analgesic, anti-inflammatory and wound healer, relieving pain, redness from any cause and promoting skin repair.

It is good for dry, red, hot and sensitive skin and is said to have anti-allergic properties this makes chamomile a very useful ingredient in natural skin care products that target this skin type.
German Chamomile has a stronger action due to its higher chamazulene content that also gives it the name of ‘super blue’. Like most essential oils Chamomile has antiseptic properties and therefore it is used in natural skin care products as a skin decongestant and cleanser.

Chamomile is used by herbalists as a herbal extract which can be used internally for a range of health complaints such as: Blocked tear duct, Canker sores (mouth ulcers), Colic, Diarrhoea, Eczema, Gingivitis (periodontal disease), Indigestion and heartburn, Insomnia, Irritable bowel syndrome, Peptic ulcer and skin irritations.

Externally it can be used in creams, ointments or applied directly to the skin for any skin problem that has a constituent of irritation, inflammation and/or infection. It is often combined with other herbs or essential oils such as lavender, calendula and others.

 

References:

Purdue University (1997) Chamomile. Website: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/chamomile.html (last visited 22, May, 2009)

Salamon, I. (1992) Chamomile: A Medicineal Plant. The Herb, Spice, and Medicinal Plant Digest, Vol.1(1), pp1-4.

University of Maryland Medical Centre (UMM), website: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ (last visited 22, May, 2009).

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