BOTANICAL NAME: Matricaria recutica. Also called M. chamomilla, camomile, blue chamomile, matricaria, Hungarian chamomile, sweet false chamomile, single chamomile, chamomile blue (oil). GENERAL DESCRIPTION: An annual, strongly aromatic herb, up to 60 cms tall with a hairless, erect, branching stem. It has delicate feathery leaves and simple daisy-like white flowers on single stems. In appearance it is very similar to the corn chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) but can be distinguished from it because the latter is scentless. DISTRIBUTION: Native to Europe and north and west Asia; naturalised in North America and Australia. It is cultivated extensively, especially in Hungary and Eastern Europe, where the oil is produced. OTHER SPECIES: There are many varieties of chamomile, such as the pineapple weed (Chamaemelium suaveolens) and the Roman chamomile (C. nobile), both of which are used to produce an essential oil. HERBAL/FOLK TRADITION: This herb has a long-standing medicinal tradition, especially in Europe for ‘all states of tension and the visceral symmptoms that can arise therefrom, such as nervous dyspepsia and nervous bowel, tension headaches, and sleeplessness, especially useful for all children’s conditions, calming without depressing…’ An excellent skin care remedy, it has many of the same qualities as Roman chamomile, expect that its anti-inflammatory properties are greater due to the higher percentage of azulene. ACTIONS: Analgesic, anti-allergenic, anti.inflammatory, antiphlogistic, antispamodic, bactericidal, carlminative, cicatrisant, cholagogue, digestive, emmenagogue, febrifuge, fungicidal, hepatic, nerve sedativ, stimulant of leucocyte production, stomachic, sudorific, vermifuge, vulnerary. CHARACTERISTICS: An inky-blue viscous liquid with strong, sweetish warm-herbaceous odour. It blends well with geranium, lavender, patchouli, rose, benzoin, neroli, bergamot, marjoram, lemon, ylang ylang, jasmine, clary sage and labdanum. PRINCIPAL CONSTITUENTS: Chamazulene, farnesene, bisabolol oxide, en-yndicycloether, among others. (NB The chamazulene is not present in the fresh flower but is only produced during the process of destillation.) SAFETY DATA: Non-toxic, non-irritant; causes dermatitis in some individuals. AROMATHERAPY/HOME USE: Skin care: Acne, allergies, boils, burns, cuts, chilblains, dermatitis, earache, eczema, hair care, inflammations, insect bites, rashes, sensitive skin, teething pain, toothache, wounds. Circulation, muscles and joints: Arthritis, inflamed joints, muscular pain, neuralgia, rheumatism, sprains. Digestive system: Dyspepsia, colic, indigestion, nausea. genito-urinary system: Dysmenorrhoea, menopausal problems, menorrhagia. Nervous system: Headache, insomnia, nervous tension, migraine and stress-related complaints. OTHER USES: Used in pharmaceutical antiseptic ointments and in carminative, antispasmodic and tonic preparations. Extensively used in cosmetics, soaps, detergents, high-class perfumes and hair and bath products. used as a flavour ingredient in most major food categaroies, including alcoholic and soft drinks.
THERAPEUTIC APPLICATION: Essential oils that contain chamazulene are important in therapeutic applications because of its apparent radical scavenging activity. Interesting research supporting this activity was carried out by Rekka E.A. (1996), who investigated the role of chamazulene in vitro experiments using an iron(II)/ascorbate system to generate hydroxyl radicals inducing membrane lipid peroxidation in liver microsomes. It was seen that chamazulene was a potent hydroxyl radical scavenger and effectively inhibited lipid peroxidation.[xvi] The ability of chamazulene in radical scavenging is what is thought to responsible for its effectiveness in treating inflamed skin conditions.