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Essential oils are concentrated extracts derived from plants. They’ve become very popular for their potential health benefits.

Chamomile essential oil has some solid research behind it. Over the years, it has often been used for a variety of ailments and conditions.

This article will take a closer look at the many benefits of chamomile oil, and how you can use it safely.

Chamomile oil is derived from the chamomile plant. In fact, chamomile is actually related to daisies. Chamomile oil is made from the flowers of the plant.

There are two different varieties of chamomile you may come across:

  • Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile or Anthemis nobilis)
  • German chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chamomilla recutita)

The two plants are slightly different in appearance. In addition, the chemical composition of their active ingredients differs slightly. Research has been done on both strains. The active ingredient most researched is chamazulene, and it’s higher in German chamomile.

The use of chamomile has been described in medical texts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Over the centuries, it’s been used for:

Research is beginning to shine a light on the health benefits of chamomile oil and why it has been used as a remedy for various ailments over the years. Let’s explore these benefits in more detail.

1. Digestive upset

A 2014 animal study evaluated the effects of German chamomile extract on diarrhea. The study’s authors found that the chamomile oil offered protection against diarrhea and fluid accumulation in the intestines.

A 2018 study assessed the effect of topically applied diluted chamomile oil on bowel activity after a cesarean delivery. Researchers found that patients who had chamomile oil applied to their abdomen got their appetite back more quickly and also passed gas sooner than patients who didn’t use chamomile oil.

Another study looked at the effects of Roman chamomile extract on sections of guinea pig, rat, and human intestine. They found that it had muscle-relaxing properties. This could help explain why chamomile oil has been used for digestive conditions like indigestion and cramping.

2. Wound healing

A 2018 article investigated how Roman chamomile extract affected the healing of an infected wound in rats. Chamomile ointment had significantly higher wound healing and antibacterial activity compared to tetracycline ointment and placebo.

3. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

A 2017 study assessed the short-term treatment of generalized anxiety using chamomile extract. Researchers found that after eight weeks, 58.1 percent of participants reported a reduction of their anxiety symptoms.

Low morning levels of a hormone called cortisol have been linked with anxiety disorders. A small 2018 study found that chamomile therapy helped reduce anxiety symptoms and increased morning cortisol levels.

4. Depression

Depression and anxiety often occur together. One study used oral German chamomile extract in people with anxiety and depression.

Researchers observed a significant reduction in depression symptoms after eight weeks of treatment in the group that were given chamomile extract.

However, it’s important to note that while chamomile extract can be taken orally, chamomile essential oil should not be ingested.

5. Skin irritation

Researchers in a 2010 study assessed the effectiveness of German chamomile oil in relieving atopic dermatitis in mice by applying it to their skin.

They found that markers associated with allergy were significantly lower in the mice that received chamomile oil compared to those that didn’t.

6. Pain relief

A 2015 study investigated the effectiveness of applying diluted chamomile essential oil to the skin for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The participants were asked to apply the oil three times a day for three weeks.

Researchers found that when compared to participants who didn’t use this treatment, chamomile essential oil significantly reduced the need for pain relief medication.

Another study looked at the effectiveness of topical chamomile oil for carpal tunnel syndrome. After four weeks, symptom severity scores in the chamomile treatment group were significantly lower than the placebo group.

7. Sleep aid

Chamomile has long been associated with promoting a good night’s sleep, and research seems to back that up. Used as an herb, it’s often taken by mouth.

In a study of 60 elderly people, the participants were divided into two groups. One group was given capsules of chamomile extract twice a day, while the others were given a placebo.

At the end of the study, there was a significant increase in the sleep quality of those who took the chamomile extracts when compared to the group who were given the placebo.

8. Anti-cancer properties

A 2019 study assessed the effect that German chamomile extract had on cancer cells in culture. The researchers found that the cancer cells were more likely to die when they were treated with the extract.

The same study also found that treatment with chamomile extract reduced the ability of cancer cells to grow blood vessels, which is needed to keep tumors alive.

Another recent study looked at a component of chamomile oil called apigenin. They found that apigenin both inhibited the growth of and induced cell death in a human cancer cell line.

Now that you know more about chamomile’s health benefits, how can you use it safely at home? There are a few different methods that you can use, including diffusing or applying it topically.

Aromatherapy applications

Inhaling chamomile oil may help with a variety of conditions, including anxiety and promoting sleep. You can use the oil in a diffuser or in a glass spray bottle.

  • Diffusion. A diffuser allows the scent of evaporated essential oils to spread through a room. When diffusing chamomile oil be sure to follow the specific directions that come with your diffuser.
  • Spray. To use chamomile oil in a spray, dilute 10 to 15 drops of chamomile oil in each ounce of water. Add to a glass spray bottle and shake well before using. Do not use a plastic spray bottle as the oil will break down the plastic over time.

When using chamomile or any essential oil for aromatherapy, make sure that the space you’re in is ventilated well. Use caution to avoid exposing women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children, and pets to the essential oil.

Topical applications

Chamomile oil can also be used in topical applications. This may help with aches and pains, digestive issues, or anxiety.

All essential oils must be diluted in a carrier oil before it touches the skin. Here are some ways to use it:

  • Massage oil. To use chamomile oil in massage oil, you’ll first need to dilute it in a carrier oil. There are a variety of carrier oils available, including coconut oil and jojoba oil.
  • Bath oil. Mix chamomile oil with a carrier oil and add to your warm bath water.
  • In a lotion. You can add 1 or 2 drops of chamomile oil to a body lotion or moisturizer, and apply to your skin.
  • On a compress. Make a hot compress by soaking a towel or cloth in warm water, adding 1 to 2 of drops of diluted chamomile oil, and then applying to your achy area, like your back or stomach.

Essential oils are very concentrated and shouldn’t be swallowed unless you’re under the supervision of a qualified professional. Some are even toxic. If you’d like to use chamomile internally, consider using chamomile tea instead.

To avoid any accidents, make sure you store chamomile oil out of reach of children or pets.

Chamomile does have some potential side effects and drug interactions that you should be aware of.

Skin irritation

Essential oils may cause skin irritation in some people. If you’re concerned about your sensitivity to the oil, test a little bit of diluted chamomile oil on the inside of your elbow before using it on other parts of your skin.

If you notice any redness, itching, burning, or swelling, stop using it.

Allergies

Some people may be allergic to chamomile oil. This may be more likely if you’re allergic to plants related to chamomile such as daisies, ragweed, or marigolds.

In rare cases a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis can occur, which is a medical emergency. Signs to look out for include:

  • difficulty breathing
  • a swollen throat
  • coughing or wheezing
  • tightness in the chest
  • a rash
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Drug interactions

Chamomile may interact with the drugs cyclosporine and warfarin. If you’re taking prescription medications, speak to your doctor before using chamomile oil.

Use while pregnant or breastfeeding

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding and would like to use chamomile oil, speak to your doctor first about whether it’s safe for you to use the oil.

Follow the tips below when shopping for chamomile oil or other essential oils:

  • Be wary of marketing hype and claims. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate essential oils. Be wary of any oil that claims it can be used to treat or cure a specific condition.
  • Check the Latin name of the plant on the product label. This can help you make sure you’re getting the type of chamomile oil you’re looking for.
  • Look for purity statements. You should be getting 100 percent essential oil. If the product is mixed with something else, the label should let you know.
  • Smell the product before purchasing it. If it doesn’t smell like chamomile oil, don’t buy it.
  • Look for dark colored bottles. Light can damage essential oils, so look for bottles that keep the light out.

Chamomile oil is an essential oil that’s been used for a variety of conditions, from digestive issues to wound healing, for many years. Emerging research has begun to shed light on other potential benefits, like its ability to help with depression, anxiety, and sleep.

You can inhale the oil by using it in a diffuser, apply it on your skin with a carrier oil, or add a few drops to your bath. As with any essential oil, be sure to follow all safety precautions.

Always talk to your doctor before using essential oils to treat a medical condition.