Essential Oil Files: Chamomile

It's the go-to remedy if you're looking to relax, unwind, and enjoy peaceful sleep. With a soothing, herby scent, Chamomile is a precious part of every aromatherapist's toolbox. This small, daisy-like flower has a long history of use in Europe and Asia, and its applications go far beyond mere stress relief.

Chamomile has been in use since at least the time of the Ancient Egyptians, who believed the flower was sacred to the Gods as a cure for 'Ague' ( Acute Fever), and is a translation of the ancient Greek word for 'little apple.' Pliny described the plant as having the aroma of  'apples or quinces.' Recognised for its relaxing properties, chamomile was often used as a 'strewing herb' at mediaeval gatherings for promoting 'good atmosphere.' The plant was also once used as a bittering agent for beer, before the introduction of hops!

Chamomile is divided into two distinct varieties, German (or Blue) and Roman (also known as English, Garden or Sweet). These varieties, while related, have distinct properties useful to the aromatherapist. German Chamomile (Matricaria Recutitia) has a deep blue colour: even one drop of this potent oil will stain a blend. This oil is useful for healing and calming the skin: use it on rashes and insect bites to soothe and encourage healing. While both varieties are known for their stress-relieving properties, Roman Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) is particularly well-known for calming the mind, useful for anxiety, irritation and symptoms of PMS. Preliminary studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania haave shown that chamomile may have  applications for those suffering from anxiety-based illnesses.

With stress at the root of many maladies, consider the benefits of adding a little of this calming, yet powerful herb into your life. If you suffer from disturbed rest or difficulty in getting to sleep, you can do this by drinking chamomile tea with honey before bed, or adding a sachet to your bath water. You can also tuck one into your pillow, or burn a blend of chamomile and lavender for an extra-relaxing prelude to bedtime. If you're interested in finding out more about this intruiging herb, go here. 

Important Note:  Chamomile can induce uterine contractions and therefore should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers.