Roman Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile, one of the nine or more blue essential oils from several botanical groups that, when distilled, produce a blue-colored oil. They are all anti-inflammatory and beneficial to skin health. This article discusses only Roman Chamomile.
ROMAN CHAMOMILE ~ History, Naming, Uses, Skincare
By Jeanne Rose
NAMING AND BACKGROUND of Roman Chamomile ~ two significant types of Chamomiles are used as herbal home remedies and for their essential oils: Chamaemelum nobile or Anthemis nobilis, also known as Roman or English chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla, also known as German or Hungarian chamomile, they are two of the most widely used medicinal herbs and essential oils worldwide.
_____FAMILY ~ These two close herbal relatives are different plants of the same plant family – Asteraceae [Compositae].
•Both have an aromatic scent and bear small, daisy-like blossoms about one inch in diameter. They have similar but different properties and different chemistry, but many herbalists use them interchangeably in herbal remedies. However, they have some distinct differences, as one is a perennial, while the other is an annual.
’ The one that is often most desired as a fragrant lawn substitute is the perennial double Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile ‘Flore Pleno’. This is an old selection that has been in use for hundreds of years. It forms a low evergreen mat with ferny leaves and fluffy white flowers in early summer. The flowers can be dried and used for tea or mowed, dried, and used for fragrant potpourri.‘ The one most frequently desired as a fragrant lawn substitute is the perennial double Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile ‘Flore Pleno.’ This is an old selection that has been in use for hundreds of years. It forms a low evergreen mat with ferny leaves and fluffy white flowers in early summer. The flowers can be dried and used for tea or mowed, dried, and used for fragrant potpourri.
COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN for Roman Chamomile ~ The essential oil is most often obtained from Italy. At the same time, the herb is grown throughout Europe and in many other areas, including South America and the USA.
ENDANGERED ~ Roman Chamomile is of the least concern. Wikipedia says, “Chamaemelum nobile is listed as least concern, but the plant population in the UK is decreasing significantly by drainage of wet grasslands, decrease in grazing, and the reduction of pasture that was used as arable fields” .15
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Chamaemelum nobile is a perennial, “has daisy-like white flowers and procumbent stems; the leaves are alternate, bipinnate, finely dissected, and downy to glabrous. The solitary, terminal flowerheads, rising 20–30 cm (8–12 in) above the ground, consist of prominent yellow disk flowers and silver-white ray flowers. The flowering time in the Northern Hemisphere is June and July …. Although the plant is often confused with German chamChamomiletricaria chamomilla), its morphology, properties, and chemical composition are markedly different.” 15
PORTION OF PLANT USED IN EXTRACTION AND YIELDS ~ The flowers are steam or hydrodistilled. The color of the essential oil is vital as one of the constituents of the essential oil contains an azulene named chamazulene and a component called bisabolol. Bisabolol and chamazulene occur only in the morning and evening collections of the plant, and the plant must be distilled at this time.
_____YIELD ~ The yield of essential oil from Roman chamomile is greatly influenced by the method of drying the flowers. In Iran, the oil content of the shade-dried ﬂowers was the most prominent (1.9% w/w) compared to sun-drying (0.4% w/w) and oven-drying at 40 °C (0.9% w/w).16
Elsewhere yield has been reported at 0.8% to 1.0%.
STORAGE ~ Store the essential oil in the freezer.
‘ORGANOLEPTICS & CHEMISTRY ~ We call these Chamomile oils ‘blue oils’ because they are blue in color. Yes, essential oils have color. These colors include a pale sky blue such as freshly distilled Roman Chamomile, although it seems to quickly lose that color, and many darker blues as well.
The plant has no azulene, as it is produced during the distillation process. The EO molecule called azulene is a dark blue color. It is composed of two terpenoids; vetivazulene, a derivative of Vetivert, and guaiazulene (also called azulon), mainly from guaiac and chamomile oil. This molecule is also found in some pigments of mushrooms, plants like guaiac wood oil, and marine invertebrates such as jellyfish and corals. Azulenes, although usually shades of blue, can also be green, violet, blue/violet, and red/violet. It is a brilliant rainbow of color due to its chemical structure. 12
Please Note ~ that the blue chamazulene itself does not occur in the plant but is formed from a sesquiterpene lactone called matricine during the steam distillation process.
”Roman chamomile EO is insoluble in glycerin ““Upon exposure to air and light and on prolonged standing, the light blue color of the oil changes first to green, to yellow, and later to yellow-brown. This oil presents one of the highest ester values of all essential oils, from 272 to 293.5” World of Aromatherapy, p. 203. Esters are used in skincare.
GENERAL PROPERTIES of Roman Chamomile
A symbol from The Aromatherapy Book by Jeanne Rose – EO can be freely used.
’The main property of any ‘’blue oils’ is as an anti-inflammatory, to control inflammation, usually of the skin, and on some occasions, when taken internally, to control inner inflammation. Shirley Price considered Roman Chamomile the best of all essential oils to use. The main property of any ‘blue oils’ is as an anti-inflammatory, to control inflammation, usually of the skin, and on some occasions, when taken internally, to control internal inflammation. Shirley Price considered Roman Chamomile the best of all essential oils to use.
PHYSICAL USES & HOW ROMAN CHAMOMILE IS USED (IG OR AP)
APPLICATION ~ The blue oils with the component of azulene are anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antibacterial and are predominantly considered unusual plants and oil for skincare.
The Benefits of Azulene in Chamomile Essential Oil. The use of chamChamomileincreasing as the knowledge of azulene (chamazulene) grows. Azulene is significant in Matricaria chamomilla (Matricaria recutita), and this herb has surpassed even its cousin Roman Chamomile as the essential oil for skincare. Both are powerfully anti-inflammatory.
•Rosacea is a chronic, inflammatory skin condition that affects the face. Rosacea causes facial redness and produces small, red, pus-filled pustules (bumps). Rosacea worsens with time if left untreated. Add Roman Chamomile in about 5% to any blend used for rosacea.
• Clay-Mask for Delicate, Inflamed Skin … http://jeanne-blog.com/clays-and-muds/
Make a paste of white clay and water (or flower water). Add 1 drop of Chamaemelum nobile – Roman chamChamomilepply to clean face and let dry for up to 15 minutes. Rinse off carefully and spray with hydrosol of Roman Chamomile, Lavender, or any other you might have.
’• Neuritis and neuralgia and a shingles remedy. – Formula of Essential Oils at 8% includes Helichrysum, Rosemary verbenone, Ravensara, and Roman Chamomile. Add 42% of the total in Calophyllum and Calendula infused oil for the balance of the formula at 50%. If possible, make this formula by weight, not volume. Shingles are very painful, a viral condition from old chicken pox stored in your body. I do not believe essential oils can ‘cure’ it, but they can help ease the pain. There is a long article on my website about this. See http://www.jeannerose.net/articles/shingles.html‘
• Neuritis and neuralgia and a Shingles remedy. – Formula of Essential Oils at 8% includes Helichrysum, Rosemary verbenone, Ravensara, and Roman Chamomile. Add 42% of the total in Calophyllum and Calendula infused oil for the balance of the formula at 50%. If possible, make this formula by weight, not volume. Shingles are very painful, a viral condition from old chicken pox stored in your body. I do not believe essential oils can ‘cure’ it, but they can help ease the pain. There is a long article on my website about this. See http://www.jeannerose.net/articles/shingles.html
A Formula for neuritis. Get a 1-oz bottle, add 30 drops of Roman Chamomile, 20 drops of Rosemary verbenone, and 10 drops of Ravensara. Then fill with carrier oil. I prefer to use a cold-pressed Olive oil that has also been pressed with Lavender flowers [see Sciabica Olive Oil]. Shake vigorously and label and use at will.
INHALATION ~ Any blue oils have many uses in blends and are used via inhalation or in the blends used in inhalers. Roman Chamomile is most easily obtainable and can be used in an inhaler, salt inhaler, or mixed with Eucalyptus radiata and rubbed on the chest for inhalation, and used to relieve breathing.
DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION ~ Use these rare blue oils in moderation. If the herb works, use that first before the essential oil. They can be blended with just about any selection of oil to suit your purposes. I have a favorite at my desk of Eucalyptus smithii + Chamaemelum nobile in a small bottle that I use to inhale periodically when I am working at the computer.
EMOTIONAL/RITUAL/ENERGETIC USES ~ Inhalation of Roman Chamomile may help with nervous tics, asthma, insomnia, headache, depression, and nervousness. It is very useful for hysteria, anger, and child tantrums.
” Many sources list a litany of magical and spiritual traditions for the Roman Chamomile. These sources list its use in spells for peace, love, tranquility, and purification. Teddy Fearnhamm, an aromatherapy teacher, says,““a cascade of Roman Chamomile and you immediately feel loved.” In ritual, it is used to instill stillness, become spiritually aware, give inner peace, and become emotionally stable. These are all attributes we can use.“ Many sources list a litany of magical and spiritual traditions for the Roman Chamomile. These sources list its use in spells for peace, love, tranquility, and purification. Teddy Fearnhamm, an aromatherapy teacher, says, “a cascade of Roman Chamomile and you immediately feel loved.” In ritual, it is used to instill stillness, become spiritually aware, give inner peace, and become emotionally stable. These are all attributes we can use.
A MINOR CHAMOMILE TOMATO TALE
Years ago, when my boy was about 8 years old, we were all gathered together around the dining room table, friends and family, having a glass of wine and chatting. I live in the city and up two flights of stairs from the street. The boys, my son, and his friend were on their BMX bikes, riding up and down the length of the 15-foot hall and creating a tremendous cacophony. It was very noisy. I quietly got up, put some Roman Chamomile into a diffuser, aimed the nozzle towards the hall, and diffused this essential oil into the atmosphere. It was only minutes before the noise died off, and quiet reigned in the house. Too quiet, actually. I got up and went into the bedroom, and now the boys were having a great time smoothing Vaseline into their hair and trying to get it to stand up in greasy peaks for that fashionable punk look. My son was laughing and enjoying the mess. Getting that Vaseline out of the hair is another story.
BLENDING ~ Chamomile oils can be blended with just about any herb or citrus or wood, or resin. It works well with flowers, bark, and spices. Arctander states that Roman Chamomile is used as a trace additive [and] imparts a warm yet fresh note and a natural depth that is difficult to obtain by other means.
Roman Chamomile has little chamazulene and thus has gentler anti-inflammatory properties. It also has a higher alcohol content than its cousin, German Chamomile is the better choice for skin conditions and other topical applications. It is used for skin diseases, acne, chilblains (painfully inflamed skin patches from the cold), and all skin irritations; applied as a compress for menstrual problems, neuritis (pins and needles in the limbs), neuralgia (sharp nerve pain), surgical intervention and pain relief, and used in perfumery. I have used it in massage blends for relaxation. Rub a bit on the gums for teething pain.
HERBAL USES OF ROMAN CHAMOMILE flowers ~ Roman chamomile flower tea is anti-allergenic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, a bitter tonic tea, carminative tea, digestive tea, emmenagogue tea (lightly promotes menstrual flow), nervine, and it is calming and stomachic. Roman chamomile oil is used as a tea for its internal and external properties, as an antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory, and to relieve gastrointestinal issues.
Flowers and essential oil are used in skincare formulas as an anti-inflammatory. The EO is inhaled for asthma, used orally, and is best for all uses.
Please Note ~ that the blue chamazulene itself does not occur in the plant but is formed from a sesquiterpene lactone called matricine during the steam distillation process.
So, don’t expect to make herbal remedies with plants that produce blue oils and have a blue-colored product. These plants should be freshly picked in the morning and carefully distilled from the flowering tops, and the hydrosol is immediately frozen (to preserve the light blue color). The essential oil is collected and stored in the freezer to preserve it from oxidation.
KEY USE ~ Use Roman Chamomile and any of the other Blue Oils to relieve inflammation and inhale to relieve asthma.
HYDROSOL ~ Any hydrosols obtained while distilling plants will be acidic in nature and skin-loving for you. In particular, Roman Chamomile produces quite effective hydrosols. The EO is only blue if the plants are picked in the morning ‘when the dew is dry but the sun not yet high‘, and if mature flowers rather than leaves are picked. The hydrosol waters are anti-inflammatory and can be added to any lotion or cream. If you add them when the blue is still in the waters, the essential oil has not quite settled. These products need to be refrigerated.
Roman Chamomile ~ I adore Roman Chamomile hydrosol. I use it in the bath, as a facial toner, and to spray my sheets for sleeping. Ann Harman found that in testing Roman Chamomile hydrosol, there was 0.0042% of EO in it. The hydrosol comprised 61 components, mainly sorbic acid, trans-pinocarveol, and lesser amounts of ketones, acids, and other components.
INTERESTING/SCIENCE/HISTORICAL USES ~ Historically, the Noble Chamomile called the Roman Chamomile, is often a double flower. It was grown interspersed with lawn plants as a ground cover that provided fragrance when being walked upon. Wet laundry, especially sheets, was laid down to dry on this fragrant cover plant, and while drying, they would pick up the sweet apple scent of the plants. In the past, when I could grow large amounts of this plant, I could place my clean, washed cashmere sweaters out to dry, and they would come back to me with the calming scent of chamomile.
This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals
A CHART OF ALL THE BLUE OILS AND HOW THEY ARE USED
The blue color is the sesquiterpene AZULENE. All essential oils containing azulene are anti-inflammatory as a property both by inhalation and by application and occur in EO only, not in the plant (matricine).
**Oxidation changes the chemical composition of the essential oil. If any of these oils are greenish-black or brown when they should be light blue to deep blue, it indicates oxidation, age, and the existence of free radicals, and they should not be used for therapy. Furthermore, if the clear-to-yellow oils appear deep yellow to deep brown, they, too, have oxidized and are too old to use therapeutically.
NOTES TO TEXT & BIBLIOGRAPHY
”1. Parsons, Pamela.“Chamomile”. The Aromatic““Thymes“. (Spring 1994) 2:2.“1. Parsons, Pamela. “Chamomile”. The Aromatic “Thymes“. (Spring 1994) 2:2.
2. Arctander, Steffen. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. (Elizabeth, NJ: Steffen Arctander, 1960.)
3. Franchomme, P. and Penoel, Docteur D. L’Aromatherapie Exactement. (Limoges, France: Roger Jollois Editeur, 1990.)
4. Guenther, Ernest, Ph.D. The Essential Oils. (Malabar, FL: Krieger Publishing Company 1976.) (original edition 1952.) (in VI volumes)
5. Parry, Ernest J. Parry’s Cyclopedia of Perfumery. Philadelphia, PA: P. Blakiston’s Son & Co., 1925.) (in II volumes)
6. Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. (Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 3rd edition, 1994.) Available from http://www.JeanneRose.net/books.html
7. Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. (San Francisco, CA: Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy, 3rd edition, 1994.) Available from http://www.JeanneRose.net/books.html
8. Tutin, Heywood, Burges, Moore, Valentine, Walters and Webb, Editors. Flora Europaea, Vol. 4. (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1976.)
9. Mabberley, D.J. The Plant Book. (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, corrected reprint, 1989.)
”10. Lewis, Walter H.“”Notes on Economic Plants.” Economic Botany. 46(4) pp. 426-430. (1992.)“10. Lewis, Walter H. “Notes on Economic Plants.” Economic Botany. 46(4) pp. 426-430. (1992.)
11. Bailey, L.H., staff of. Hortus Third. (Cornell, New York: Hortorium, Cornell University, 1977.)
”13. The Blue Oils. By Jeanne Rose. Published in““The Aromatic Plant Project” from archives •1994“13. The Blue Oils. By Jeanne Rose. Published in “The Aromatic Plant Project” from archives •1994
15. Wikipedia. Chamaemelum nobile
16. R. Omidbaigi, F. Seﬁdkon, F. Kazemi. Inﬂuence of drying methods on the essential oil content and composition of Roman chamomile. Flavor and Fragrance Journal. 29 March 2004. https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.1340
Arctander, Steffen. . Perfume and Flavor Materials Chamomilel Origin. (Elizabeth, NJ: Steffen Arctander, 1960.)
Harman, Ann. Harvest to Hydrosol
Mabberley, D.J., Mabberley’s Plant Book, 2008 Third Edition with 2014 updates, Cambridge University Press
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations.
Rose, Jeanne. Hydrosols & Aromatic Waters. www.jeannerose.net/books.html
Worwood, Susan & Valerie Ann. Aromatherapy.
Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in using essential oils, as they are not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014