Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Aromatherapy: Chamomile

        Health | Aromatherapy

Chamomile’s flowers resemble tiny daisies, but one sniff will have you thinking of apples instead. The herb has long been grown for its healing properties. Its smell was thought to relieve depression and to encourage relaxation. Medieval monks planted raised garden beds of chamomile, and those who were sad or depressed lay on them as therapy. Chamomile also was once a strewing herb, spread on bare floors so that the scent was released when people walked on it.

Drinking chamomile tea made from the flowers stimulates appetite before meals; after meals it settles the stomach. Roman chamomile (Camaemelum nobile, formerly Anthemis nobilis) yields a pale yellow essential oil that is an anti-inflammatory. When German chamomile is distilled, a chemical reaction produces the deep blue-green chamazulene that is even more potent an anti-inflammatory.

Principal constituents of chamomile: Esters of angelic and tiglic acids with pinene, farnesol, nerolidol, chamazulene, pinocarvone, and cineol

Scent of chamomile: The odor is sweet, applelike, and herbaceous.

Therapeutic properties of chamomile: Anti-inflammatory, antiseptic; promotes digestion, relieves gas and nausea, encourages menstruation, soothes nervous tension, and promotes sleep

Uses for chamomile: Inhaling chamomile tea’s aroma relaxes both mind and body. Research studies show that chamomile relaxes emotions, muscles, and even brain waves. It eases the emotional ups and downs of PMS, menopause, and hyperactivity in children. It also helps control the pain of bruises, stiff joints, headaches, sore muscles, menstrual and digestive system cramping, as well as the pain and swelling of sprains and some allergic reactions.

Chamomile is mild enough to ease a baby’s colic and calm it for sleep. It is especially soothing in a massage oil, as a compress, or in a bath. Make a chamomile room spray by diluting 12 drops of the essential oil per ounce of distilled water. Chamomile is suitable for most complexion types or skin problems, from burns and eczema to varicose veins. It is especially useful for sensitive, puffy, or inflamed conditions. Add it to shampoos to lighten and brighten hair.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.