German chamomile essential oil is distilled from the flowers of Matricaria recutita and often grown and distilled for its essential oil in Hungary as well as other parts of Eastern Europe, North America and Australia. Native to temperate parts of Eurasia, M. recutita best expresses itself when grown in this type of terroir. As many plants classified in the Asteraceae family, this annual plant is happy to spread its medicine by readily re-seeding itself.
Matricaria comes from the Latin “matrix,” meaning “womb.” If you take a bi-section of the flower you will find the inside is hollow. Sometimes called the “plant’s physician,” chamomile is known to help plants growing around it just as we may call upon it to help us. And so, it has been used for centuries amongst many cultures and civilizations for the several almost too-good-to-be-true actions it has in and on the body and mind. I like Hoffman summed up German chamomile: “A comprehensive list of medicinal uses for chamomile would be very long.” Its actions range across nervous tension, the digestive tract (e.g., teething, dyspepsia, gastric ulcers), to conjunctivitis, inflamed skin, migraines, insomnia and more! (Hoffman, 2003)
Affinities and Usage Applications for Chamomile
German chamomile shines when it comes to inflammatory conditions of the mind and body. The plant is cooling, calming and bitter—this is reflected in the oil—when things are red, angry and raw, German chamomile may be a gentle, valuable ally.
- Add to remedies to support the respiratory tract ranging from allergies (anti-allergic) to bacterial infections
- Support the entire digestive tract: from inflamed gums, smoothing tense tissues (easing cramping and gas) to hemorrhoids
- Soothe inflamed, itchy, red, tense skin and sore joints (it is a notable antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory)
- Work with raw, hyper, angry emotions and support personal power (solar plexus)
Impressions of German Chamomile Essential Oil
(The following impressions were captured from smelling one drop of an oil on a blotter paper for a few minutes.) The sun immediately pulses across the cheeks, in-tandem the solar plexus is activated and smooths out. The diaphragm eases and expands more readily, deepening respiration. An overall stillness and letting go happens in the body. Although activation started and continues at the inner/center (cheeks and solar plexus) it spread to the periphery: I can feel the pulse in my hands and lower legs. Personal power is activated and a smile is creating: lightness. My lower body feels lighter (as if I was just coming out of “legs up the wall”) and my spirits are lighter. German chamomile is daring me to giggle (not laugh but giggle). To be light and smile. It eases and fortifies the center so you can radiate outward.
The unmistakable aroma of the oil is soft, quiet and deeply penetrating. It presents a bouquet of herbaceous hay and grass, layered with sweet, fruity apples. There is a faint note of wet dirt—reminiscent of soft dew in the early morning sun. Journeying with this plant brings calming delight. It is slightly playful but keeps you grounded enough on this earthly plane to see the truth and speak honestly.
Am I Blue?
Many people marvel at the azure blue color of the essential oil which is an artifact of distillation, when the chemical called matricin converts to an azulene called chamazulene. I find this a lovely example how chemistry and poetry are not separate from each other.
Aromatherapy Recipes with German Chamomile Essential Oil & Plant
Mitigating the Itchy, Watery, Sneezy Allergy Response
Turn to some friends in Aster family to soften the allergy response of itching, inflammation and mucus. Oy!
- Combine the following essential oils into a 10 ml roller ball applicator along with a fixed oil of your choice:
- 16 drops of Inula (Inula graveolens)
- 4 drops of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
- 2 drops of Blue tansy (Tanacetum annuum)
- Usage Ideas:
- I like to use this behind my ears and along the jawline to help ease allergy symptoms.
- Carry this with you to apply to bug bites and general skin irritation during the warmer months.
Happy Baby Teething Oil
I have had the pleasure of helping several parents bring comfort to their teething children with this gentle teething oil. Also consider using it on the body to bring relief to itchy-scratchy skin. This simple recipe proves how the tiniest amount of essential oil delivers results for myriad issues.
- Combine the following into a 1-ounce (30ml) dropper bottle:
- Organic, food-grade fixed oil of your choice (I often use fractionated coconut oil or sunflower)
- 3 drops of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) essential oil
- Usage ideas:
- With clean hands, apply 1-2 drops of the teething oil to one of your fingertips. Massage the oil onto tender little gums with your finger. Use as needed during flare-ups.
- Put the oil mixture into a roller bottle too for easy application onto a little one’s gums or even externally on the jawline.
A Delicious, Digestive Herbal Tea
German chamomile is a reliable and gentle digestive aid. It is an aromatic bitter—which is one reason it excels at dispelling gas, stimulating the production of bile and assisting with all-round digestion. Sip on a soothing cup of chamomile flower infused water after eating to get things moving. As Hildegard von Bingen noted, German chamomile “…has a pleasant juice and is like a gentle ointment for painful intestines.”
- What you need to make two cups:
- Pot with lid or kettle
- Two of your favorite tea cups or mugs
- 16 ounces of water
- 4 tsp of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) flowers
- Optional: consider adding 1-2 tsp of another digestive aromatic such as ginger, peppermint, lemon or lemon balm.
How to make: Bring 16 ounces of water to a near-boil and remove from the heat. Do not add the flowers to boiling water as this will “burn off the” volatile oils and make for a rather bitter brew. The ideal temperature would be something you could comfortably put your finger in without yelling “ouch!” Add the chamomile flowers to the water then cover and let them steep for no more than 10 minutes (longer would be more bitter and stronger in action). Strain out the flowers as you decant the brew into the cups. Enjoy sipping this as a warm or cool tisane.
Need more Chamomile in your life? Watch the below Plant Talk episode where we chat with Chamomile in the garden then spend time on the patio discussing the essential oil.
Plants are more than willing to express themselves. If we get out of our own way, are quiet and pay attention to them, we can be humbled and learn a vast amount of information through observation and thoughtful use. I’m serious. Try sitting next to the actual plant for awhile and see what happens.
Thank you for spending time with German chamomile and me.
Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and PRacice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester: Healing Arts Press.