Even if you’re not an essential oil junkie, you’re probably familiar with chamomile in some form. It’s present in everything from skincare products to teas and many things in between. This amazing flower has been used medicinally throughout history for a good reason!
First, we’ll tell you all about chamomile and its rich history, including how it is extracted from the plant. Then we’ll go over the benefits of chamomile and share a few of our favorite chamomile brands. We’ll finish up by answering a commonly asked question that comes up when talking about the types of chamomile.
You’ll be ready to use this essential oil with confidence and have a little more background on it too!
Table of Contents
- 1 About Roman Chamomile
- 2 Where Does it come from?
- 3 Early Uses of Roman Chamomile
- 4 Benefits of Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
- 5 May Treat Women’s Health Concerns
- 6 Our Favorite Roman Chamomile Essential Oils
- 7 What is the difference between Roman chamomile and German chamomile?
About Roman Chamomile
Before we share some of the uses of Roman chamomile essential oil, let’s learn a little bit about where this plant comes from! Roman chamomile has a rich history dating back to the beginnings of recorded societies, so we have a lot to gain from learning about this fantastic plant.
Chamomile is one of the oldest medicinal plants in the world! We know this because it is both widely used and well-documented. Some people may believe that Roman chamomile originated in Roman times, but hieroglyphics show that chamomile was used cosmetically for at least 2000 years prior! Sources claim that Greek physicians prescribed chamomile for fevers and various disorders that affect the female reproductive system. The name “Roman Chamomile” wasn’t even the name used for this flower in that era. Legend has it that the name we know it by today comes from individuals seeing it growing around the Roman Colosseum in the 19th Century.
Where Does it come from?
This plant is native to southern and eastern Europe and is currently grown in Germany, Hungary, France, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Brazil. It even ended up in India during the Mughal period a long, long time ago, and now it can be found in several Indian states as well! Although you can find this plant in Europe, North Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand, Hungary is the primary producer of Roman Chamomile. Incredibly, Roman Chamomile grows abundantly in the poor soils of Hungary and is one of the main sources of income for the impoverished inhabitants of the area. Flowers grown in Hungary are typically exported to Germany for distillation into Roman chamomile essential oil. Chamomile essential oil is not high in demand in India, but the flower is. Luckily, Roman chamomile grows well in the alkaline soils of India as well.
Early Uses of Roman Chamomile
Chamomile was first grown in vast quantities around the 16th century for flavoring drinks and incense. It also became popular in medicinal usage as well for fighting a variety of diseases and promoting longevity. Its use as a medicinal plant caused an increase in popularity across Europe. Eventually, chamomile was brought to the UK, and then to North America.
In the early settlements of North America, doctors used chamomile as a medicine for its various medicinal benefits. These benefits included curing pain, reducing inflammation, alleviating allergy symptoms, and even helping digestive issues. The early settlers also used chamomile as a natural deodorant, shampoo, and perfume.
How is the Essential Oil Extracted?
Like many essential oils, Roman chamomile essential oil is steam distilled. Steam distillation takes place in a sealed still where steam is forced over the plant to create a mixture of water and oils from the plants. When the process is complete, it is easy for the oil from the plant to be collected from the surface of the mixture since water and oil naturally separate. This process of steam distillation is typically better than cold pressing because of its excellent ability to preserve valuable nutrients in the plant matter.
During the process of steam distillation, the purpose is to steam the plant product just right so that the aromatic molecules to be released into the solution that is further refined into essential oil. Because of this, temperature control is of the utmost importance. Botanical material will respond to steam that is hot enough to make the roman chamomile essential oil come out of the plant. If it is too hot, it can burn and waste the plant material.
The essential oil that is distilled from the Roman chamomile flowers has a sweet, fresh, and fruity aroma that is reminiscent of apple. After this oil is distilled, the color ranges from a bright blue to a deep green when it is fresh. However, after it is stored, it becomes a dark yellow color. This is probably what you see when you grab a bottle of Roman chamomile essential oil. Don’t take the fading color to mean fading potency, though! Although the color fades, the oil does not lose its potency.
Roman chamomile is chock full of chemical compounds that make it fantastic for health and wellness. It has about 120 secondary metabolites, which include 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoids. Additionally, this essential oil contains angelic acid, tiglic acid, farnesene, and a-pinene.
What does all of this mean? Terpenoids are the largest and most diverse class of beneficial plant chemicals. Chamomile contains many terpenoids which suggest that it has a strong probability of aiding in significant health benefits. Terpenoids, in general, have been proven to help prevent metabolic disorders, fight cancer, and even exert anti-aging benefits. Flavonoids are chemical compounds that have variable chemical structures and are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, bark, roots, stems, flowers, tea, and wine. They are essential because, like terpenoids, there is substantial research that shows them providing a myriad of health benefits to their consumers. Flavonoids have been proven to be anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, and anti-carcinogenic in addition to creating a low cardiovascular mortality rate.
All of these critical components of Roman chamomile mean that this is an extremely powerful plant! It’s no wonder that it has been in use for generations. Let’s get into some of the uses that we can leverage using the distilled product of Roman chamomile.
Benefits of Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Roman chamomile is considered to be one of the most ancient and one of the most versatile essential oils in existence. Roman chamomile essential oil has been used to treat a variety of conditions because of the plentiful beneficial chemical components of this essential oil. Today it is commonly used to naturally treat many conditions like nervous system issues, eczema, heartburn, anxiety, indigestion, and more.
Let’s take a deep dive into the specifics of some of the most popular uses of Roman chamomile essential oil.
May Help Fight Anxiety and Depression
When we think of Roman chamomile, we probably think of a calming tea or soothing bath. The calming benefits of Roman chamomile can be derived from the essential oil as well. It is most commonly used in aromatherapy for this purpose, and there is research that backs it as well. It is said that inhaling Roman chamomile brings the fragrance directly to the brain, and this serves as a kind of emotional trigger. In alternative medicine practice, Roman chamomile is used for anxiety and depression all over the world, especially in southern Italy, Sardinia, Morocco, and Brazil.
One study from 2013 looked at an aromatherapy blend that included Roman chamomile, neroli, and lavender. This particular blend was tested as a treatment for anxiety in patients in an intensive care unit. The results showed consistently that this blend reduced anxiety in the patients and improved sleep quality across the board when compared to traditional nursing intervention in the ICU.
Between the studies available on chamomile essential oil for this purpose and its use in alternative medicine, we can safely say that this oil is excellent for relaxation. Try the aromatherapy blend used in the study yourself in a diffuser to calm your space. You could even smell it right out of the bottle to reap the calming benefits of this flower. Here is one of our favorite Roman chamomile essential oils.
May Support Digestive Health
Research in humans is sparse regarding chamomile’s effects on the human digestive system. Roman chamomile essential oil contains a compound called anodyne. Anodyne is a type of chemical compound that is antispasmodic and has been shown to help with digestive issues like gas, acid reflux, indigestion, diarrhea, and vomiting. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, promising research is available regarding the usage of Roman chamomile for digestive issues. There is no definitive evidence of Roman chamomile alone being the reason for digestive relief in the studies that are available.
However, the fact that Roman chamomile has been used historically for the relief of digestive problems shouldn’t be ignored! You can give chamomile essential oil a try for digestive issues via ingestion or by mixing it with your favorite carrier oil and rubbing it on your stomach. You can purchase capsules to ingest Roman chamomile essential oil as well.
May Reduce Symptoms of Insomnia
We know that Roman chamomile essential oil can be relaxing, but it also may help to promote healthy sleep and assist individuals who have insomnia. One study tested the aromatherapeutic effects of Roman chamomile in several different groups of individuals. The findings of this study were promising and showed that individuals across the board experienced more drowsiness and calmness when they inhaled Roman chamomile. Subjects were also able to fall asleep quicker compared to when they inhaled a placebo or nothing. If you suffer from insomnia, you probably understand how frustrating it is to have to deal with the terrible side effects of traditional prescription treatments for insomnia can be. Roman chamomile is a viable alternative that may help you take a more natural approach to treatment.
In addition to the first study, a second promising study was performed on rats and showed that chamomile produced a hypnotic and benzodiazepine-like effect. Rats who were given chamomile extract experienced a significant decrease in the amount of time it took to fall asleep in this study. While this isn’t definitive evidence that the effects can be carried over to humans, it is at least an indicator that research is heading in the right direction.
You can give Roman chamomile a try in your diffuser before bedtime with lavender essential oil as well for a double whammy of relaxing smells. You could also mix it with your favorite carrier oil and massage it between your wrists.
May Help Boost Skin Health
Roman chamomile in traditional medicine is used to promote smooth, healthy skin and even helps to relieve irritations because traditional medicinal practitioners believed it to be anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and mildly astringent. In traditional medicine, it was used to treat conditions like ulcers, gout, diaper rash, chickenpox, nasal inflammation, and more.
Studies have shown that Roman chamomile essential oil is able to penetrate the top layers of skin with its active ingredients. This finding suggests that it can be effective as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agent because it doesn’t just benefit the top layer of skin. With that, this essential oil is potentially able to aid in inflammation and oxidation that may occur beneath the surface .
Many cosmetic and skincare products contain chamomile because of its amazing properties for the skin. You can try out a skincare product containing chamomile or try to integrate Roman chamomile essential oil into your nightly skincare routine. You can mix a few drops of Roman chamomile essential oil with your favorite non-comedogenic carrier oil and gently massage it into your skin before bed.
May Help Relieve Allergies
You might be surprised to see that Roman chamomile is on the list of allergy-fighting essential oils, but chamomile can have some fantastic benefits for allergy sufferers. Chamomile has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties when applied topically to the skin. Certain studies have shown reduced irritation in subjects with the application of chamomile. Internally, chamomile has been shown to produce an increase in immune indicators with regular consumption. This means that the more you take Roman chamomile, the more effective it will be at fighting allergic reactions and infections.
Many of us take over-the-counter allergy medications to deal with seasonal allergies, but these solutions can come with unpleasant side effects. If we can take care of things more naturally, why not? Give Roman chamomile essential oil a shot when suffering from allergies by diffusing it in your space or consuming it in a capsule diluted with olive oil.
May Promote Heart Health
As mentioned previously, Roman chamomile is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to significantly reduce mortality from coronary heart disease when taken internally in certain age groups. Another study found that individuals who were given chamomile essential oil to ingest had lower brachial blood pressures and fell asleep faster than individuals who did not.
Of course, chamomile essential oil alone is not a silver bullet to protect your heart. However, if it is added to a healthy lifestyle, it can be beneficial for you. The heart health benefits can be derived from taking Roman chamomile internally, so try it in a tea or a capsule for the heart benefits.
May Treat Women’s Health Concerns
Incredibly, there is one study that found that using a Roman chamomile essential oil douche provided relief from Vaginitis. Although the results of this study were promising, conditions like this should be checked out by a doctor first.
Other sources suggest that Roman chamomile is a natural mood booster and also has antispasmodic properties. It can provide relief from menstrual discomfort and hormonal mood swings. They also say that when taken internally, it can help with acne that occurs as the result of menstrual cycle hormone fluctuations. There is little research to support these claims, but give it a shot and see what you think! Most women would love natural relief from menstrual cycle frustrations, so it is certainly worth further research and testing.
May Relieve Arthritic Pain
Since Roman chamomile essential oil has the ability to penetrate beneath the surface layers of the skin, it can be used as a topical anti-inflammatory for treating pain from arthritis. This makes it useful to apply topically when combined with your favorite carrier oil on the lower back, knees, wrists, fingers, and other problem areas. You can also put a few drops of Roman chamomile essential oil into a warm bath to experience the anti-inflammatory benefits.
For Use in Children
Mothers have used chamomile to calm crying children, reduce fevers, help with earaches, and soothe digestive issues for generations. It can help children with ADD or ADHD as well. Since this essential oil is so gentle, it is generally considered to be safe for use in children and infants as well.
More scientifically speaking, there was a study that tested the effectiveness of Roman chamomile in helping children who had colic. In the study, diarrhea ended sooner in the group of children who were given chamomile extract. This promising result means that it is likely safe to use chamomile for this purpose in children as a more natural diarrhea relief. Of course, consult a doctor if diarrhea persists or other symptoms occur in addition to diarrhea.
May Kill Cancer
This potential application of Roman chamomile essential oil is the most widely studied, understandably so! Several studies point to the potential of this fantastic plant.
One study from 2007 conducted at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio showed minimal growth inhibition from chamomile, but a significant reduction in cell viability in many different types of cancer cells. This finding suggests that chamomile may weaken the cells that grow but doesn’t stop the cells from growing. Additionally, it didn’t hurt healthy cells when it killed cancer cells, which is a big problem with traditional cancer treatment. With that said, this study was one of the first that demonstrated the anticancer effects of chamomile.
Several studies have been conducted since then, some in conjunction with other herbs and plants. The findings were inconclusive in regards to the anticancer properties of Chamomile. Hopefully, plants like chamomile will end up being the key to ending cancer once and for all.
Our Favorite Roman Chamomile Essential Oils
There are many different sizes of Roman chamomile essential oils available on Plant Therapy, ranging in price and size. Roman chamomile is a pricier essential oil no matter where you shop. If you would like to spring for USDA certified organic Roman chamomile, you can do that on Plant Therapy as well.
Eden’s garden oils bring on quality and affordability. You can feel good about buying Eden’s Garden oils as they take great care and measure to produce ethical, sustainable, pure, and affordable oils to their consumers.
Rocky Mountain Oils is always a favorite because they offer batch-specific GC/MS testing. That way, you always know where your oils are coming from and are of the highest quality and potency; this is also why their oils tend to be more expensive on average than other essential oil brands. Many reviewers share that they don’t mind paying more for Rocky Mountain Oils because they always end up being high quality and very potent. Everyone has their preferences, so you should try a few different brands to see what you like!
What is the difference between Roman chamomile and German chamomile?
There are many differences between Roman chamomile and German chamomile. The most significant difference between the two is their chemical structures.
Like plants, they look pretty similar: both are white flowers with yellow centers. Like essential oils, both contain chamazulene. Chamazulene is an anti-inflammatory and is also the ingredient that gives this oil a deep blue color. The only difference is that German chamomile has a higher concentration of chamazulene compared to Roman chamomile. There are many small differences between German and Roman chamomile, but for the most part, these essential oils have similar benefits.
You should double-check the use before you use one in place of the other, but both are considered pretty gentle oils and generally safe for use.