Chamomile Oil: Which Chamomile Is Which?

Chamomile is known worldwide to be a calming sleep aid, a remedy to ease an upset stomach, and for its wonderful anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmolytic properties. There are, however, many types of chamomile: Roman chamomile, Anthemis nobilis; German chamomile, Matricaria recutita; true Moroccan chamomile, Tanacetum annuum. Beyond these three basic types, German chamomile can also be called Hungarian or blue chamomile, while another species of chamomile called Moroccan is actually a different variety (Ormensis multicaulis) that is grown in Morocco. Ormensis multicaulis does not have the ink-blue color of the true Moroccan chamomile that is Tanacetum annuum, also called blue tansy. Each chamomile is a different variety, however they all have similar constituents as well as some likenesses in appearance.

Roman chamomile is mainly grown in England, and there are some areas in continental Europe and the United States that also distill the oil. In 1785, Carlo Allioni, an Italian botanist, placed what we know as Roman chamomile in the genus Chamaemelum, naming Anthemis nobilis as Chamaemelum nobile, thus furthering the confusion about chamomiles.

German chamomile is what most botanists and herbalists refer to as chamomile. German chamomile grows wild mostly in Germany, however what is known as blue or German chamomile has for the past 10 years or so been mainly distilled in Hungary, yet it retains the name German chamomile.

Moroccan chamomile is a member of the Tansy botanical family and is like German chamomile due to the fact that they both produce a deep, ink-blue color when in the form of an essential oil. Out of the two varieties, Moroccan chamomile has the highest levels of chamazulene; however there are some chamomiles that have the name Moroccan Chamomile that are not blue in color. They are appelled Moroccan chamomile because they are a variety of chamomile that is grown in Morocco. True Tanacetum annuum is blue and contains the highest levels of chamazulene; however, there is some concern with Tanacetum annum, also called blue tansy oil. Tansy oil has been purported to have some toxicity and should not be used directly on the skin. On the other hand, there are aromatherapists who rave about the wonderful effects of Tanacetum annuum. Research on Tanacetum annuum’s constituents and general actions is incomplete and there is not enough clinical data recorded to make any conclusions about safety or effectiveness.

Chamazulene is the constituent in both German and Moroccan chamomiles that makes them blue and gives them strong anti-inflammatory qualities. Chamazulene does not show up as a constituent of German Chamomile until the distillation process because chamazulene is bound with glycoside Matricine, which is a sugar molecule that becomes hydrolysed due to the pressure and heat of the steam distillation process of extracting the essential oil. The volatile azulenes become unbound and alpha-bisabolol and chamazulene are then freed and show as newly present constituents of chamomile oil.

German and Moroccan Chamomile are recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties and have been know to help cure and treat allergies, dermatitis, eczema, inflamed joints, muscles, neuralgia, skin rashes and sprains. German Chamomile is what is typically chosen to make chamomile tea and is an excellent natural anti-histamine for reactions such as hay fever, asthma and hives. Caveat emptor—if German chamomile is brown in color, it was over-heated during distillation and has lost the chamazulene-rich, blue color, diminishing its healing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Roman chamomile also possesses anti-inflammatory properties; however, it is better known for its analgesic and sedative properties. Roman chamomile is very mild and has shown to be safe when using it for children, especially children with nervous sleep patterns or insomnia. Other than the sedative properties in Roman chamomile, it is highly anti-spasmolytic. For example, Roman chamomile can stabilize severe asthma attacks until emergency treatment is available. Roman chamomile is also known for being useful in the treatment of anxiety, arthritis, anxious temperaments, muscular aches and pains, rheumatism, PMS and other menstrual conditions, stress, sleeplessness, and nervous tension.

With all of the differences of the chamomiles, they also share similarities. For example, some of the chamomiles are more effective for insomnia than other chamomiles, but they can all be used to treat insomnia. While Roman chamomile would be preferred for treatment of insomnia, all chamomiles have some effectiveness in the treatment of acne, allergies, baldness and hair care, boils, abscesses, blisters, cuts/sores, dermatitis, dry & sensitive skin, eczema, insect bites, irritated & inflamed skin, rashes, toothaches, teething pain, wounds, arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, strains, colic, flatulence, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, cystitis, dysmenorrheal, premenstrual tension/PMT, headache, insomnia, nervous tension, stress-related conditions, neuralgia, and sciatica.

To explore the benefits of Roman or German chamomile, or for more specific information on which chamomile is preferred for specific ailments, refer to our online therapeutic references or product profiles. Roman and German chamomile are gentle, non-sensitizing, non-irritant, and non-phototoxic essential oils. Each chemo-type has its benefits and applications. Chamomile has a sweet, herbaceous, sometimes fruity, scent. It is delicate, neutral and can be used in a diffuser, by placing a couple drops on a pillow, in the bath, or mixed into a non-scented massage oil or lotion to add a light, clean, and therapeutically-benefiting scent.

Rose Oil – A Gift From The Flowers Of Love

Ah, Wonderful Rose Oil

If there’s an aroma that more individuals find deeply moving than any other, it is the oil of rose. The scent is divinely sweet, rich, and deeply floral – exclusive to the extract of history’s most revered flower. Though the rose is renown for it’s fragrance, the flower actually contains very little aromatic oil by weight. Some 60,000 roses are needed to distill a single ounce of oil, or about 60 roses PER DROP, a fact which brings the seemly high cost of rose oil into perspective.

The Flower of Love

The hardy nature of the thorny rose bush and the flower’s magnificent beauty make it a horticulturalist’s dream. The genus Rosa has some 150 species spread around the globe, being cultivated in your grandmother’s backyard garden, in vast fields in Bulgaria’s Valley of Roses, and everywhere in between.

Roses have somewhat of a unique past, peppered with interesting stories and extravagant displays of affection. The flower’s association with devotion was perhaps most wonderfully expressed during the Roman empire, with banquet halls being carpeted with petals. Cleopatra once received her beloved Marc Antony in a room literally knee-deep in rose petals – how’s that for greeting? Roses are the unrivaled symbol of love, given dear ones through the ages as an affirmation of true affection. It’s no wonder the flower’s oil has great healing properties, both physically and emotionally, for the human heart.

Rose’s health Benefits

With it’s considerable therapeutic and aesthetic value, the ‘queen of the flowers’ had a special place in medicine and perfumery in the ancient civilizations of Persia, Egypt, India, Greece and Rome. The modern healing tradition of the extract of rose began in the 17 th century with the writings of English physician Nicholas Culpeper. The herbalist described the use of red roses to strengthen the heart, it’s cooling and astringent actions, and its effect on headaches and tired eyes. Perhaps inspiring it’s use as a beauty tonic ‘par-excellence’, he went on to suggest it’s use as a remedy for a variety of skin complaints.

In aromatherapy, the psychological effects are wondrous for those with a broken heart, or other emotional wounds. Rose oil calms and supports the heart center, inspiring a sense of happiness and well-being. When rejection or loss has injured one’s ability to love and nurture, either themselves or those around them, rose oil can bring sweet and gentle comfort and allow an emotional ‘re-opening’.

Use in Aromatherapy

It is the Bulgarian Damask rose, or Rosa Damacena, most often used in aromatherapy. The oil of this 36-petaled beauty is available in two forms: the ‘otto’, or true essential oil, and the ‘absolute’. Harvest of the flowers occurs in the early morning, before the sun’s rays has warmed away the aroma. Rose otto is made in a two step steam-distillation process; the first distillation yields an essential oil and a large amount of ‘rose water’. The water is again distilled, producing an oil which is combined with that from the first distillation.

The absolute is made with a different process entirely. Similar in a way to ‘effleurage’ (the pressing of petals in fat to produce an extract), the flowers are processed in a solvent, with a wax-like ‘concrete’ being produced. Through a second extraction of the concrete, rose absolute is yielded. This method is significantly more efficient than steam distillation, producing nearly 7 pounds of oil per 10,000 pounds of roses (distillation yields 1 pound oil per 10,000 pounds of roses), with a corresponding lower cost. Does one produce a better oil? There is certainly debate; while some argue that traces of solvent are likely to exist in the absolute, others claim the heat of distillation does not result in a true representation of the flower. And as with either method, the quality and effect of the oil varies greatly with the experience and care of the manufacturer – the answer truly lies with the individual and the application.

Using Rose Oil

Oil of rose can be utilized in a number of ways; it is very gentle, being suitable for use on the skin ‘neat’, in massage oil, and in a bath, as well as in a diffuser. As a perfume, the absolute can be worn directly on the skin – it’s ‘tenacious’ quality will have the aroma slowly released for many hours. For therapeutic use for the emotions, a dilution of 10% of otto or absolute in jojoba oil is often used, being massaged into the heart area – a diffuser is very effective for this purpose as well. The absolute or otto can also be added in small amounts to any skin cream, though using a home-made natural recipe is often the nicest. Rose water, or hydrosol, the water resulting from the distillation process of rose otto, can also be used directly on the skin, with it’s mild astringent and toning properties.

A rose and lavender facial cream can be made using the following recipe:

Melt ½ ounce of beeswax in 4 ounces of jojoba using a double boiler. Add 3 ounces of distilled water in a thin stream while stirring vigorously with a wire whisk. Remove from heat and continue stirring while adding 20 drops of rose oil (absolute or otto) and 15 drops of lavender. Allow to cool, then enjoy this wonderful homemade cream for sensitive skin.

There are, of course, many ways to enjoy rose oil’s benefits. It is revered on many levels, from its pure aesthetic aromatic beauty, to its physiological healing and emotional uplifting. True rose oil, with its great depth and sweetness, is easily appreciated by almost all who experience this natural wonder.

Tired All The Time? Try These Adrenal Support Essential Oil Blends!

Adrenal Support from Nature – Aromatherapy Essential Oil Blends for Fighting Fatigue

Feeling fatigued a little too often? Morning cappuccino no longer doing its job? Getting that feeling that you’ve been worn thin by your busy schedule, and you’re just not bouncing back? These can be signs of over-worked adrenal glands – and can be symptoms of a syndrome known as “Adrenal Fatigue”. Thankfully, a few commonly-available essential oils can offer support in regenerating worn-out adrenal glands.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

The adrenal glands are your body’s workhorses when it comes to dealing with stress. These tiny glands, each about the size of a walnut and shaped like a tiny pyramid, sit atop each kidney. The adrenals produce important hormones such as cortisol, an energy releaser, and pregnenolone, the precursor from which almost all your body’s steroid hormones are made, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, and estrogens. Pregnenolone is an extremely important memory enhancer, and not only does it make you smarter, it also brings about feelings of well-being and enhances your ability to deal with stress. Weak adrenal function can have a variety of symptoms, including depression, insomnia, and lowered immune system function.

There can be many contributing factors to adrenal fatigue, though these can almost all be lumped into the category of ‘too much stress’! Overwork, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits – particularly too much sugar, injury and illness, and over-use of stimulants are a few common causes. Addressing these issues are of primary importance for long-term regeneration of the adrenals and their hormonal output. However, natural adrenal supporting essential oils used in aromatherapy can be very useful in bringing balance and assisting in restoring adrenal function to normal, healthy levels, in mild-to-moderate cases of adrenal fatigue.

Adrenal Supporting Essential Oils

Several easy-to-find essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy to support the adrenals glands. Some are used purely for adrenal gland restoration, while others are used to provide a healthy lift when needed, and may be of assistance when reducing caffeine intake. These oils are not to be taken internally, but are best diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the skin.

Spruce and Black Spruce Needle Oils – Spruce is thought to restore depleted adrenal glands, and is used regularly by aromatherapists in blends applied directly over the adrenal area, or in an all-over body lotion.

Pine Needle Oil – Pine essential oil is noted to be one of the “most effective oils for fatigue and nervous debility”. Pine can be blended with Spruce for a synergistic revitalizing effect.

Atlas Cedar Oil – Moroccan Cedar is thought to gently and persistently stimulate the metabolism. Rather than regenerating, as do the Spruce and Pine oils, Cedar will provide a smooth, deep, and long lasting stimulation without the side effects of coffee and black tea.

Peppermint Oil – Peppermint has a broad range of healthful properties, and is thought of as an uplifting aroma. Peppermint, like Cedar, can be used for gentle stimulation and alertness.

Citrus Oils – Essential oils pressed from the rinds of citrus fruit like sweet orange, bitter orange (bergamot), lemon and lime are also uplifting and brightening, yet have a relaxing quality as well. They are useful additions to fatigue-busting blends, as the added calming, but not sedating, quality can lower stress levels, which are generally the cause of adrenal fatigue in the first place.

Aromatherapy Blends for Adrenal Fatigue

First, a blend to provide pure regenerative support without stimulation. This blend is suitable for regular use, and some users report almost immediate results – it has been noted to reduce or eliminate that nauseous feeling that can accompany insomnia. FOR A ONE OUNCE BLEND – add 1.5ml Spruce or Black Spruce and 1.5ml Pine Needle essential oils to one ounce (30ml) of your favorite carrier oil (Hazelnut is commonly used, but any common aromatherapy carrier oil should do the trick). Apply regularly to the kidney / adrenal area. Note: 1ml is about 25 drops.

To use these oils in a gently stimulating, all-over body blend, add 3ml each of Spruce and Pine essential oils, 2ml Atlas Cedar oil and 2ml of your favorite citrus oil to 4oz of carrier oil. Apply this all over after a morning shower – though if using the citrus oil, do not apply to areas that will be exposed to the sun in the following 72 hours, as citrus oils are photosensitizing.

If you prefer the properties and aroma of peppermint, try the following blend: 6ml of Spruce or Black Spruce, 2.5ml Atlas Cedar and 1.5ml Peppermint in 4 ounces of your favorite carrier. This blend will not be photosensitizing to the skin, and can be used all over the body.

Conclusion

These wonderful smelling aromatherapy blends can offer support in cases of mild and moderate adrenal fatigue for many people, though the underlying causes of this condition should be addressed concurrently for best results. For most folks, this means reducing caffeine intake, improving diet by reducing sugar consumption, and finding balance in one’s life between work, family, and personal time.

Using Essential Oils Successfully With The Herpes Virus – A Personal Account

Aromatherapy Oils and the Herpes Virus – One Person’s Success Story

The Herpes Simplex virus (or HSV) is a difficult disease. It is widely known as incurable, with painful skin lesions on sensitive areas of the body. The lesions reccur more often for some people than others – their ‘outbreaks’ tend to be related to periods of high-stress. Modern medicine does not offer a cure, though there are pharmaceutical preparations available to limit the frequency and duration of HSV outbreaks. With a reputation as ‘incurable’, ‘painful’, ‘not-so-pretty’, and varieties described as ‘oral and labial’ or ‘genital’, the disease can be a little challenging and embarrasing to say the least.

Well, I’ve been through this. I’ve had the painful lesions, had to deal with the regular outbreaks of painful cold-sores in my mouth and on my lips (I was blessed with the ‘oral’ variety). I’ve been through those great internal debates on how to break the news to a partner (thankfully always returning that look that says something like ‘Oh! I thought you were going to tell me my cat just died…that’s no big deal’). Though it still seemed like a big deal. Regularly having those few days of feeling like a flu was coming on, followed by a few days of outbreak – at what always seemed like the worst of times. On top of it, being an athlete, training really hard tended to cause outbreaks as well – weightlifting in particular. Maybe it was just really strenuous, or maybe I wasn’t actually a ‘weightlifter’ – but that heavy lifting would almost always lead, once again, to an outbreak.

I freqently wondered in the midst of these bouts with HSV if this was something I’d have to deal with for the rest of my life – I tried doctor prescribed medicines, Lysine and other remedies, but none kept the virus at bay enough to really make a difference.

Then someone introduced me to essential oils, and I learned a little about their studied antiviral activity. I stumbled onto research performed with a certain oil known as Melissa. Melissa essential oil is distilled from Melissa herb, a plant with a long history in natural medicine. The plant yields a relatively small amount of oil compared to other aromatic varieties, so it’s cost seems a little high. But formal investigation has been being going on in Europe for many years applying the oil to herpes lesions, with very promising results. One company has even extracted a component of the oil and sold it in a prescription form (though I have not read of any evidence showing the extract works better than the oil itself).

The most encouraging statement regarding the use of Melissa on herpes was made by Dr. Dietrich Wabner, a professor at the University of Munich: he stated that a single application of Melissa may lead to a complete remission of the disease. A possible cure! I’d figured I had nothing to lose, so I tried a little bottle of the oil.

Searching further, I found a regimine for the oils’ use. Melissa might not lead to a complete remission in just one application – other healers were finding success when the oil was applied to the affected area when an outbreak felt ‘imminent’. The oil was applied perhaps three times per day during the outbreak; this was repeated the next several times the user thought an outbreak may be coming on, and through the duration of the skin healing. My outbreaks were usually on my tongue at that point (though they started on the palate of my mouth). I would get a very fatigued feeling for a few days, then my tongue would get what seemed like individual taste buds that would feel as though they were burnt (and yes, I have had medical confirmation as to their cause). I also had lesions on my lip, but not as often. So I began the Melissa oil program – just one drop in my mouth a few times a day – and thankfully I actually liked the taste!

Well, perhaps the single dose worked for some folks, but I wasn’t quite so fortunate – though I was certainly not discouraged. The history of Melissa and it’s healing powers was renoun, and I kept up with the program. Despite continuing to have outbreaks, they were shorter, and they seemed to occur less frequently. And after a while, it dawned on me – the outbreaks had stopped completely! And believe me, my life has been no less stressful – more so if anything. Also, while outbreaks do tend to happen less freqently for some over time, I had been living with this for 15 years and they were still fairly regular. But no matter how stressful my days were, how heavy my weight training sessions or other athletic endeavors, the outbreaks have not returned!

For individuals who may have more sensitive skin than I, or have outbreaks in more sensitive places, Melissa essential oil can be diluted in a vegetable or nut oil (Hazelnut oil or Rosehipseed are commonly used) to 1/10th or even less of the total volume and be just as effective (some say that even 1% will work). It is important to note – and repeated many times in the literature – that taking any essential oil orally, or appliying undiluted to the skin, should be done with extreme caution – whatch your own reaction closely and proceed accordingly. I do not have experience with application to the genital variety of Herpes simplex, but the texts do not make a distinction – this may be where a carrier oil could come in handy. But whatever way it’s used, the system should be followed closely: apply Melissa 2-3 times a day to the affected area when an outbreak is on the way, and use it until the sores have healed completely. Follow this method for the next several outbreaks; there are no guarantees, but this may work for you or someone you may know – and what a wonderful thing it can be!

For sufferer’s of Shingles, another Herpes virus variety causing lesions of the skin, Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica, or ‘True’ Ravensara) oil has been used. Individuals have found relief using Ravensara in a 50-50 blend with Tamanu Nut oil. The Tamanu Nut sooths the skin during the healing process and keeps the Ravensara in contact with the sores. I have not heard of this offering a complete cure, but I have heard of this blend really helping relieve discomfort of this condition.

So if you choose to use aromatherapy oils like Melissa or Ravensara yourself (or to a recommendation), find a trusted source for the essential oils. Find ‘true’ varieties of each – Melissa is often adulterated, and the real thing is generally priced between $10 and $20 per milliliter (about 25 drops, which actually goes a long way); Ravensara should be of the ‘Ravensara aromatica’ variety. Be conservative with direct application – remember that diluting the oil has not been reported to reduce efficacy. Yes, I liked the Melissa oil straight, and never had a problem – but others I’ve known have had sensitive reactions – though this may have been related to UV exposure. Be good to yourself and listen to your body – may you achieve healing success!