Chamomile (German) Profile
Image: Matricaria chamomilla (German Chamomile in bloom).
Copyright 2019: Kelly Holland Azzaro (from our botanical garden)
Binomial: Matricaria chamomilla L.
Botanical Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)
Native Origin: Europe Cultivated: Eygpt, France
Common Name/s: Blue Chamomile, Hungarian Chamomile, Mayweed
Botanical Synonyms: Matricaria recutita L.
Plant Part Used: aerial parts (flowers).
Extraction Method: steam distillation.
Scent: a potent herbal aroma. Not as sweet-smelling as Roman chamomile-more so a deeper herbaceous scent.
The essential oil may contain up to 20+% of the component called chamazulene. This constituent gives the essential oil its blue hue, hence the synonym Blue chamomile. Depending on the country of origin in which it is grown, the chemotype (there are four types) and stage of harvest, all of which add to the overall chemical makeup of the plant. The constituent of chamazulene and others (including a-bisabolol) along with additional sesquiterpenes all contribute to German chamomile’s therapeutic properties, and in particular to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions. -Sources: Battaglia, S., Tisserand & Young
Note: while the constituent of chamazulene will not be found in chamomile hydrosol, the component of a-bisabolol a (up to 72%)-(Source: A. Harman) an oxide is present within the hydrosol, and lends to its use with inflammation and minor spasms/cramping/gas.
Therapeutic Actions & Properties:
Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, calming (CNS), carminative (Digestive system), cicatrizant, sedative, vulnerary, and more.
- Abscess cleansing/inflammation (skin/hoof)
- Minor skin and wound care (esp. wet/weepy and stubborn to heal)
- Cleansing and soothing (skin and minor wounds)
- Muscle spasms, cramps, and joint stiffness
- Digestive support, cramps/gas
- Bug bites/stings, bumps, and bruises
- Sunburn, windburn, chapped and cracked skin
- Stress and tension, agitation, hyperactive energy
- Sleep support: insomnia, restlessness, nightmares.
Anxiousness, fear-based issues, grief, agitation, pent-up energy, hypersensitive to sound, touch, and changes within one’s environment, routine, loss of a family member and fellow companion.
Safety Cautions: possible skin irritation if the essential oil is not diluted properly. If irritation occurs, discontinue use. Keep out of the reach of children and pets.
Allergy Note: Be mindful if there is a known allergy to the Compositae family (however, this does not always hold true with the essential oil, more so with the herb, but should be noted). I have found that with most individuals that are sensitive to this plant family; it seems to be more so with ragweed, vs German chamomile (or they may be sensitive to wild chamomile), and they often do fine with the use of the diluted hydrosol and brewed tea (diluted for topical use). But, with that said, be sure to check with the individual prior to use (and do a skin patch test each time, especially when this plant would be actively blooming and its pollen is in full swing as that may agitate an existing allergy), and consider it for specific short-term use versus regular use.
Note (Essential Oil): The essential oil may be adulterated with synthetics. Be sure to use fresh (non-oxidized) obtained from a reputable source.
Note (Essential Oil and Hydrosol): Be sure that the hydrosol is the true chamomile vs wildcrafted of an herb called ‘Stinking Chamomile’-which looks similar to chamomile.-Source: Harman, Ann.
With that note mentioned, it makes me wonder if those that have experienced any type of allergic reaction to ‘chamomile’, if they may have been exposed to the ‘Stinking Chamomile’ wild herb, versus true chamomile? hmm…
Possible Drug Interactions: Drugs metabolized by CYP2D6.-Tisserand & Young, Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed. (Reference this text for more detail).
Price: moderate to high. Purchase in smaller amounts to ensure freshness and sustainable use.
Beautiful blue chamomile, why do I love you so?
I really love chamomile. Whether it be in its wild plant state waving to and fro with the gentle spring breeze, harvested and hung to air dry for the dried herb in tea and infusion making, or when the plant material is distilled to produce the essential oil; and best of all the hydrosol!
German chamomile essential oil offers antibacterial properties (more potent than Roman chamomile) that are very useful with minor wound cleansing and to encourage the overall healing process. The brewed herb (allowed to cool) and the hydrosol can be used to make a compress for topical application to bug bites and stings, pimples, superficial cuts and scrapes, abscesses, and bumps and bruises. Both of these forms can also be added to the bath or small soaking pan for cleansing a hoof/paw abscess.
For emotional support, I prefer the sweeter scent of Roman chamomile to German, but blue chamomile really lends itself with improving quality of sleep, especially for those that have difficulty falling asleep and or suffer from nightmares. Often, only one drop of the pure essential oil on a tissue or scent strip, or gently warmed on an Aromastone diffuser near the bedside is all that is needed to promote restful sleep. For animals that have pent-up energy due to past trauma, or don’t sleep well (visualize the dog running and whining in their sleep), chamomile hydrosol sprayed onto a tissue allowing them to inhale its scent may bring relief. Our cats also love to hang-out next to the chamomile plants in the garden. They will rub gently by the plant to activate its aroma, then plop themselves down for a nice catnap.
Having horses for much of my life, I’m never without both German and Roman Chamomile essential oil and hydrosols. These are my go-to botanicals for aromatic first aid and wound cleaning/healing. I worked with a horse that came from a rescue situation. His hooves had been badly neglected and stunk so bad you could smell them feet away. The new caregivers tried everything and they were having good results with their farrier getting the hooves back into shape; however, the lingering bacterial and fungal mess was still a problem. The horse was also very tender-footed due to the lack of care and sensitive to touch of his body and hooves.
Over time with the use of flower essences and aromatherapy, along with Crainoscaral therapy, they were able to overcome the hoof issue and improve his quality of life; so much so that he became a much-loved lesson horse. I used both German and Roman chamomile essential oils (and helichrysum italicum EO) in a carrier base of jojoba and tamanu oil applied topically to help fight the infection and decrease inflammation and pain. The hydrosol form was used to cleanse the hooves each day, followed by the topical aromatherapy blend. The caregivers were given education on how to use for self-care with their new beloved gelding and the story had a happy ending for his hooves and new life! Isn’t aromatherapy wonderful!!!
Gardening tip: if you decide to plant chamomile in your garden, we have found that is seems to do better in medium-sized pots, kept in warm sunny view near companion plants that offer a bit of shade. Bring potted chamomile in during very cold temperatures (otherwise, it often will go through shock). It does take quite some time to develop a full chamomile section in a garden-it’s a plant that requires lots of TLC and no doubt why it also resonates for those that are in need of extra care themselves. The gift that plants give to us is certainly one to be in awe and reverence of.
Note: If you enjoyed reading a bit about German chamomile via this profile and would like to learn more, click here to check out our course offerings.
Disclaimer: The information shared in this article profile is for educational purposes only and is not meant to take the place of traditional health care. If you choose to use this information for yourself and your animal friends you do so at your own discretion and with the guidance of a certified aromatherapist who also specializes in animal aromatherapy.