Smell is one of our most powerful senses. Catching a whiff of something can instantly transport us to another time in our lives or bring up powerful emotions. The smell of a flower can soothe us, or the scent of dinner cooking can remind us of our family. That's why we spend so much time and energy trying to capture the essence of certain scents. And every once in a while we come across one that can do more than simply please our olfactory senses. Chamomile, for instance, not only has an inviting aroma, but it also has medicinal properties. The most common type of chamomile, blue chamomile, is commonly used in everything from tobacco and liqueurs to perfume and skin cleansers.
Blue chamomile oil is distilled from the German chamomile plant, and it gets its name from its blue color. Chamomile may add a pleasant scent to your skin cleanser, but it's probably best known for its soothing abilities. It's generally held that blue chamomile helps the body relax and fall asleep, and people also use it to treat digestive problems [sources: WebMD]. It's also known for its ability to alleviate skin conditions like psoriasis, acne and eczema [source: University of Maryland].
Despite its benefits, you should be careful when using a product containing blue chamomile, whether it's a skin cleanser or tea. While it is safe for most people, be careful if you have asthma, since it could make the condition worse. If you're pregnant, you should avoid it as well, because there is a risk of miscarriage. If you're allergic to other plants like daisies, ragweed, asters or chrysanthemums, you might be allergic to chamomile, too [source: University of Maryland].
See the links below for lots more information on the ingredients in skin cleansers and how they work.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Ehrlich, Steven D. NMD. "German Chamomile." University of Maryland Medical Center. Nov. 11, 2008. (Sept. 8, 2009)http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/german-chamomile-000232.htm
- Simon, G.E. "Chamomile." Purdue Guide to Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. Dec. 6, 1997. (Sept. 8, 2009) http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/med-aro/factsheets/chamomile.html
- WebMD. "German Chamomile." (Sept. 8, 2009) http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-951-GERMAN+ CHAMOMILE.aspx?activeIngredientId=951&activeIngredientName=GERMAN+ CHAMOMILE&source=2