Is This Chamomile, Really Chamomile?

I’ve mentioned the importance of specifying the plant source of an essential oil before [link to eucalyptus post]. Each essential oil has its own therapeutic effect according to its chemical makeup. The functional groups (e.g. alcohols, ketones, aldehydes) in its chemistry, dictates the function the essential oil will serve for the body (e.g. anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, mucolytic). Chamomile is of no exception to this rule.

Chamomile is the name given to several oils but, unbelievably, only some of these are distilled from genuine chamomile leaves! Sold under the name of ‘chamomile’, some oils are actually made from a relative of wormwood but are passed as chamomile due to a compound that gives them a colour similar to chamomile. Chamomile is also the name given to some oils of the mugwort family of plants which are actually toxic and may result in damage to the central nervous system, seizures or even liver damage.

There are two main types of genuine chamomile, each with their unique function:

  • German chamomile – anti-inflammatory
  • Roman chamomile – anti-spasmodic

German chamomile

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