Roman chamomile is a powerful essential oil with a long history of use in traditional and folk medicine.
And today, with interest in essential oils at an all time high, its use as a traditional remedy is being validated through scientific research.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the many and varied ways that Roman chamomile essential oil can improve your health and well-being.
- 1 What Is Roman Chamomile Essential Oil?
- 2 Main Uses for Roman Chamomile
- 3 What’s the Difference Between Roman, German and Maroc Chamomile?
- 4 Therapeutic Actions
- 5 Eases Digestive Complaints
- 6 Aid Menstrual Problems
- 7 Make Menopause Easier
- 8 Soothe Painful Muscles and Joints
- 9 Safe Pain Relief
- 10 Get Better Sleep
- 11 Relieve Stress and Anxiety
- 12 Natural Skin Care
- 13 How To Use Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
- 14 Final Thoughts
What Is Roman Chamomile Essential Oil?
Roman chamomile essential oil (Anthemis nobilis / Chamaemelum nobile) is distilled from the pretty, daisy like flower heads of the Roman chamomile plant.
This is one of the plants that give us chamomile tea, and like the tea, chamomile essential oil is chock full of health benefits.
The ancient Egyptians valued chamomile for its ability to reduce fevers, to treat colds, and to banish insomnia. And back in the days of the Roman Empire, soldiers drank chamomile tea to improve their mental clarity.
The name of this essential oil doesn’t, however, come from that era.
Instead, ‘Roman’ comes from the fact that a botanist found this particular type of chamomile plant growing in the ruins of the Colosseum in Rome in the 19th century. While ‘chamomile’ originates from the Greek word meaning ground apple, and the plant’s flowers do indeed have an apple like aroma.
When brewed into a tea that aroma is still present, and the tea’s flavor has a delicate hint of apple to it.
Roman chamomile essential oil has a watery consistency and is a pale blue color, (turning yellow with age). Its cousin German chamomile is a much darker, inky blue.
When you pop the top off a bottle and inhale, you’ll be greeted with a sweet, fruity, herbaceous aroma. This fragrance makes Roman chamomile a very pleasant essential oil to use.
Main Uses for Roman Chamomile
One of the things to love about Roman chamomile essential oil is its versatility.
When you have a little bottle of this oil in your essential oil kit, you’ll be well equipped to tend to all kinds of malady. Use Roman chamomile for:
- Muscle and joint pain
- Digestive Upsets
- Skin problems
- Sleep disorders
- Stress and anxiety
- Menstrual problems and menopause
What’s the Difference Between Roman, German and Maroc Chamomile?
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutica) are quite similar in their actions, while Maroc chamomile (Ormenis multicaulis) has a more limited set of effects.
The major difference between Roman and German chamomile essential oils is the amount of azulene that they contain.
Azulene is a strong anti-inflammatory, and German chamomile contains more of this substance than Roman chamomile.
If your main concern is counteracting inflammation, then German Chamomile is the better choice.
Roman chamomile is often preferred for use on children because of its milder action.
Maroc chamomile is more accurately known as Ormenis oil. Its principal constituents are very different from the other two types and its therapeutic effects are limited to menstrual irregularities, liver support and sleep problems.
- Analgesic – eases or stops pain
- Anti-inflammatory – stops or reduces inflammation
- Antineuralgic – relives or reduces nerve pain
- Antiseptic – destroys or prevents the development of microbes
- Antispasmodic – prevents and eases spasms and convulsions
- Carminative – settles the digestive system and helps release trapped gas
- Cicatrisant – helps to speed wound healing by promoting the formation of scar tissue (scabs)
- Digestive – helps with the digestion of food
- Emmenagogue – induces or assists menstruation to improve regularity and promote normal flow
- Febrifuge – reduces fever
- Hepatic – improves liver function
- Hypnotic – causes sleep
- Nerve Sedative – calms activity along nerve pathways (helping to relieve pain and ease stress and anxiety)
- Stomachic – improves appetite and aids digestion
- Sudorific – causes sweating
- Vulnerary – helps to improve wound healing when applied externally
Eases Digestive Complaints
The antispasmodic, anodyne compounds present in Roman chamomile essential oil make it an effective remedy for digestive upset and other gastrointestinal complaints.
By relaxing abnormal spasms in the stomach and intestines, food can transit through the digestive system smoothly, and painful gas bubbles are more easily expelled.
Because food transits more effectively, constipation is also less likely to occur.
If you regularly suffer from cramping, bloating, trapped gas, or nausea after eating, you might like to try taking preventative action like drinking chamomile tea or massaging chamomile essential oil onto your abdomen prior to your meals.
It’s important to remember that essential oils, while very powerful, don’t contain the full complement of herbal compounds found in their parent plants.
By using both the essential oil and the herbal tea, you’ll be able to take advantage of the full range of benefits that chamomile offers.
Aid Menstrual Problems
The therapeutic effects of Roman chamomile essential oil make it a great choice for menstrual problems.
Painful periods (Dysmenorrhoea) benefit from its muscle relaxing action which helps reduce or eliminate cramping and spasms.
Massaging the abdomen with chamomile essential oil between periods can reduce painful cramping in the first few days of a period.
The analgesic properties of Roman chamomile can ease any back pain and headaches. When these pains strike, the oil can be applied topically or inhaled.
Irregular periods can be brought into a more predictable pattern thanks to the emmenagogue properties of Roman chamomile. Again, daily abdominal massage with the oil will produce the best results.
Emmenagogues can also normalize flow, so if heavy bleeding is an issue for you, use Roman chamomile essential oil between cycles.
PMS responds well to essential oil therapy, and using Roman chamomile is a very good way to make your life a little easier each month. Roman chamomile reduces stress and helps to balance the hormones that are responsible for mood swings.
Make Menopause Easier
Menopause and the years leading up to it (the perimenopause) can be extremely difficult.
Erratic menstrual cycles and heavy flow are common during perimenopause, as are insomnia, mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, aching joints and muscles, cramps, skin changes and digestive problems that many women have to suffer through at menopause.
Essential oils can be a real help during this difficult period.
Roman chamomile is a good choice because it ticks so many boxes, helping with sleep, reducing heavy flow, and aiding digestive upsets.
And as a stress buster, Roman chamomile can make a big difference to the ever present tension and mood swings.
Chamomile works even better when it’s part of a synergistic blend.
Try combining chamomile with:
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) – combats fatigue and improves concentration.
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) – good for hot flushes, night sweats and sleep disturbances.
Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) – acts as a diuretic to relieve fluid retention and helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats while balancing mood.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) – helps with dry skin, and lifts bad moods.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – gives an energy boost, and tackles headaches and hot flashes.
Your essential oil blend can be massaged into your skin, inhaled from the bottle (keep your blend in a dark brown glass bottle), or diffused into the air with an aromatherapy diffuser or oil burner.
Soothe Painful Muscles and Joints
Sore muscles due to exercise or overexertion, general age related aches and pains, and conditions like arthritis can all benefit from the application of Roman Chamomile essential oil.
The anti-inflammatory and pain relieving compounds in chamomile oil work synergistically to ease discomfort and bring relief.
For example, for patients with knee osteoarthritis, topical application of chamomile oil resulted in less analgesic use.
In a study, patients were treated with chamomile, diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) or placebo.
The group using chamomile oil 3 times a day, over a 3 week period found they needed less analgesic pain relief (acetaminophen) than the group using diclofenac.
Roman chamomile has also proven beneficial for people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 26 patients with severe carpal tunnel syndrome were treated for 4 weeks with topical application of chamomile oil or placebo.
The patients receiving the chamomile treatment reported fewer symptoms and greater wrist function.
Safe Pain Relief
When something hurts you need the pain to stop. Pharmaceutical pain relievers can be extremely helpful, and for minor complaints and short lived painful episodes – like a headache or a pulled muscle – they can take the pain away completely which allows you to get on with your day.
However, all pharmaceutical pain relievers have some safety concerns and you have to follow the safety guidelines when you take the medications.
This is less of an issue if you only need a pain pill now and then. But if you’re suffering from a long term problem or a chronic condition that requires daily medication to control pain, then you can run into problems – even with something as seemingly benign as ibuprofen, which is now linked to an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.
Besides the safety issues there’s also the problem of pain relief wearing off before you can safely take your next dose.
Roman chamomile essential oil has analgesic, antineuralgic, and anti-inflammatory properties which means that it offers an alternate route to pain relief.
For minor issues like a headache, inhaling chamomile or massaging some diluted essential oil into your temples and the back of your neck, could be all that you need to extinguish the pain.
If you have a need for stronger pain relief, Roman chamomile can be used during the period where pain relief has worn off but you’re hours away from being able to safely take another dose.
In this case it may not take the pain away completely, but it may lessen your discomfort.
Research has shown that chamomile works in a similar way to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs by inhibiting proinflammatory substances like prostaglandin-E2 and COX2.
And, by helping you to relax, the level of pain you experience can be reduced, because your pain threshold is lower when you’re tense and anxious.
Is Roman chamomile the answer to chronic pain? No, but as anyone suffering with chronic pain knows, a multifaceted approach works best, and essential oils like chamomile can be part of your pain management plan.
Apply diluted Roman chamomile directly to the site of pain. You can also benefit from Roman chamomiles pain relieving action by inhaling the essential oil either directly from the bottle or via an aromatherapy diffuser
Get Better Sleep
Your quality of sleep impacts every aspect of your life. Poor sleep affects relationships, work performance, physical and emotional well-being, and decision making.
And unfortunately, sleep problems are at epidemic proportions in our ‘always on’ world.
For some people their inability to switch off and fall asleep leaves them staring at the ceiling for hours. For others, sleep comes swiftly but doesn’t last for long enough.
Many people reach for alcohol in the belief that it will help them sleep, but the opposite is true.
Others put their faith in prescription sleeping aids, which come with side effects and the risk of addiction.
Roman chamomile essential oil offers a third way. One that is safe, effective and accessible.
As a hypnotic, Roman chamomile helps to cause drowsiness which is exactly what you need to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
One study found that chamomile reduced the time taken to fall asleep because of its benzodiazepine-like hypnotic activity.
In another study, volunteers reported more drowsiness and greater feelings of calm after inhaling Roman chamomile.
Sleep quality isn’t just measured by the duration of sleep. How restful your sleep is is very important. Sleep characterized by lots of tossing and turning leaves you feeling less than refreshed when you wake up, and sleep disturbed by nightmares has a similar effect.
By actively calming the body on a physical and emotional level, Roman chamomile can improve the amount of truly restorative sleep that you get.
Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Roman chamomile is well known for its emotionally balancing effects which makes it a trusty ally when you’re suffering from stress, anxiety, or a bout of the blues.
As a mild sedative, chamomile calms nerves and promotes relaxation, and researchers have shown that chamomile produces a mild anxiolytic (anti anxiety) effect.
Patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder were enrolled in an 8-week study and given either chamomile extract or a placebo.
Those taking the chamomile extract showed significant improvements when assessed using Hamilton Anxiety Rating (HAM-A) scores.
Other research has focused on chamomiles benefits for women suffering from postpartum depression.
In a controlled trial, women in the group given chamomile tea to drink for 2 weeks experienced less depression and better sleep quality than those in the control group.
Natural Skin Care
There are so many ways that Roman chamomile is beneficial for your skin.
As an anti-inflammatory, it soothes rashes and calms spots and acne. Use it for contact dermatitis, diaper rash, cracked skin, poison ivy, insect bites and stings, chicken pox rash, sunburn, boils, spots, and acne flare-ups.
Chamomile has also been shown to be effective for eczema. Kamillosan cream, which is an ointment containing chamomile extract, had the same effect on eczema as hydrocortisone cream (a steroid) and was even more effective than bufexamac (a non steroidal anti-inflammatory).
Roman chamomile, thanks to its antiseptic properties, can also be used to clean and disinfect minor wounds, and daily application to a wound will speed up healing (while decreasing any pain at the site).
Hemorrhoids are another complaint that chamomile essential oil can help to rectify. Use the diluted oil several times a day to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Beyond skin complaints and wounds, chamomile makes a good all-round skin treatment. It encourages blood flow for healthier, brighter skin, its antioxidants protect against free radical damage, and it helps to keep skin soft and supple.
How To Use Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
All essential oils needs diluting before use on the skin.
Undiluted oils can cause contact dermatitis and long term sensitization, so using undiluted oils is really not worth the risk, especially since diluted oils are no less potent.
After all, one drop of essential oil is still one drop of essential oil, whether it’s been mixed with a teaspoon of carrier oil or not.
Diluted oils are actually better absorbed because you’re able to spread the essential oil over a larger area of skin, which allows the essential oil to sink in more quickly.
The standard dilution for essential oils is 2% for adults and 1% for children. To make a 2% dilution, add 12 drops of essential oil to 30 ml (one ounce) of carrier oil.
A 1% dilution uses 6 drops.
For your carrier oil, you can use any vegetable based oil – sunflower oil, olive, coconut, jojoba, rice bran, hemp seed, almond, and so on.
If you want to make a massage oil, a richer, less easily absorbed oil, like olive oil, is a good choice.
But if you need something to soak in quickly without leaving a greasy residue, sunflower or jojoba are better choices.
Mineral oils derived from petroleum, like baby oil, don’t make suitable carriers because they sit on the skin and form a barrier that will stop the essential oil penetrating your skin.
In addition to topical application, essential oils can also be inhaled, and inhalation is a very effective route of administration, especially for emotional problems. When used in this way, the therapeutic molecules take two routes.
Some of the molecules will travel through your olfactory system directly to your brain where they can alleviate stress, regulate hormones, and balance emotions.
The rest of the molecules will travel to your lungs and from there to your bloodstream.
You’ve got several choices when it comes to essential oil inhalation.
You can simply unscrew your bottle cap and take a deep breath, you can place a few drops of oil onto a tissue or cotton handkerchief and place it nearby, or you can use an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser or tea light oil burner.
As you’ve seen from the uses for Roman chamomile highlighted above, this essential oil is remarkably versatile. Because of this versatility, Roman chamomile is an essential oil you can turn to again and again, making it a great addition to any home remedy kit.