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Roman Chamomile Essential Oil: Amazing Flower Power With A Soft Touch

| 1/8/2019 4:30:00 PM

For over 2,000 years, the small, cheerful, daisy-like flowers of the Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, syn. Anthemis nobilis) herb have enjoyed a medicinal reputation in Europe and especially the Mediterranean region, and they are still in widespread use today, primarily as a digestive aid due to their rather innate bitterness. The plant is native to southern and western Europe and has naturalized in North America.

roman chamomile on wood tray
Photo by Mars Vilaubi

A familial relative of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita, syn. M. chamomilla), these two chamomiles share a similar appearance, apple-like fragrance when fresh, and many of the same properties and applications, even though the two herbs have a different chemistry. German chamomile essential oil is a deep inky blue (due to a higher chamazulene content providing more potent anti-inflammatory effects than  Roman) with a pungent tobacco-like, herbaceous, sweet, warm aroma.  Pale yellow-to-gold in color, Roman chamomile essential oil has an intensely sweet, fruity-floral, warm, apple-like herbaceous scent.  Both essential oils are produced by steam distillation of the small, daisy-like flower heads and the fragrance of each can easily dominate a formula, so keep that in mind when experimenting with recipes.

Owing to its gentleness, Roman chamomile essential oil, when used as directed, is a soothing and safe oil even for infants and young children.  I often use it alone or in combination with cardamom, lavender, or frankincense essential oil in formulas designed for bathing and massage to calm irritability and induce sound sleep, as well as in topical blends designed to ease painful symptoms of earache, colic, and teething.

Because of its cooling, deeply relaxing nature, Roman chamomile is a good choice for addressing hot flashes, stress-induced, inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema or hives, and tension/migraine headaches.  Bouts of sciatica, neuralgia, lower back pain, menstrual cramps, and spasmodic muscle cramps respond favorably, as well.

roman chamomile in garden
Photo by Stephanie Tourles

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