encyclopedia

Roman Chamomile

Scientific Names:
Chamaemelum nobile (L.) ALL. [Fam. Asteraceae]

Forms:
Aqueous extract of fresh or dried flowers; standardized extracts containing 1.2% apigenin and 0.5% essential oil

Traditional Usage:
– Acne (externally)

– Antibacterial

– Anti-inflammatory

– Antimicrobial

– Antiseptic

– Anxiety

– Appetite Stimulant

– Athlete’s Foot

– Bone and Joint Problems (externally)

– Breathing Disorders

– Bunions

– Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

– Catarrh (nose, throat and bronchi)

– Colic

– Colitis

– Cramps

– Deodorant

– Digestive Disorders

– Eczema

– Enteritis

– Fever

– Flatulence

– Gastrointestinal Disorders

– Gastritis

– Headaches

– Heartburn

– Infections (externally)

– Insomnia

– Menstrual Difficulties

– Mucous (respiratory)

– Nervous Disorders

– Poultice

– Relaxation

– Sciatica

– Skin Disorders

– Stress

– Ulcers

– Wounds

Overview:
Roman chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile (L.) ALL. [Fam. Asteraceae], is a native plant to southern and western Europe and North Africa that grows up to 30cm and has numerous small white to yellowish white flower-heads. The shaggy blossoms generally only have white ray-florets and no central yellow cone florets characteristic of daisy family plants. Roman chamomile is also known as English or sweet chamomile and generally has the same applications as those of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) and is used more frequently in Great Britain, France and Belgium, particularly for menstrual problems and as a carminative to alleviate gas and improve digestion. The German Commission E lists Roman chamomile for treating complaints of the gastrointestinal tract including feelings of distension, flatulence and mild cramps, as well as for treating inflammation of the mouth and throat. Roman chamomile can also be used against anxiety as a calming and relaxing tea and research shows that the apigenin it contains is an effective sedative. Based on animal studies, apigenin from chamomile binds to benzodiazepine binding sites in the brain, reduces GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)-activated currents in a dose-dependent fashion and reduces locomotor activity. Roman chamomile tea can also be used externally as an antinflammatory wash for treating eczema and other skin irritations. A chamomile cream called Kamillosan(R) cream was tested against 0.5% hydrocortisone cream and the vehicle cream as placebo in patients suffering from medium-degree atopic eczema and after a 2-week treatment Kamillosan(R) cream showed a mild superiority to 0.5% hydrocortisone. One German synonym for chamomile, translated as ‘roll-boil’, reflects the plant’s traditional usage for treating ulcers. To soothe ulcers, a concentrated warm tea of chamomile is drunk while lying down and slowly rolling onto all sides of the body in order to effectively coat all of the inner membranes with the tea.

Active Ingredients:
Roman chamomile flowers contain: 0.6-2.4% essential oil containing angeloyl, methacryl, tigloyl and isobutyryl esters of alcohols as the principal components. The flowers also contain: Bitter substances of the sesquiterpene lactone type, including: ca. 0.6% germacranolide-types; nobilin, 3-epinobilin; sesquiterpene peroxides including hydroperoxyisonobilin, etc. Flavonoids including: apigenin, luteolin, quercitrin, apiin, etc.; polyacetylenes, among them dehydromatricaria ester; and other phenolic compounds and their glucose esters; scopoletin and triterpenes.

Suggested Amount:
Roman chamomile is generally taken as an herbal tea three to four times per day between meals. German authorities recommend using a heaped tablespoon (ca. 3g) of the flowers for every 150ml of water. It is recommended that boiling water be poured over the flowers and after 5-10 minutes strained. For anxiety and insomnia, standardized extracts are taken at a dosage of 400mg from between one to four times daily, depending upon the level of nervousness. For inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and throat, a freshly prepared cup of tea is used as a gargle or wash. Externally: a 3-10% infusion is used for poultices and rinses; as a bath additive, 50 grams of flowers are used per 10 liters of water.

Drug Interactions:
None known

Contraindications:

Persons who are allergic to daisy family plants [Fam. Asteraceae] may experience allergy symptoms to chamomile.

Side Effects:
Allergic reactions are possible in susceptible persons. Infusions should not be used near the eyes.

References:

Avallone R, Zanoli P, Puia G, Kleinschnitz M, Schreier P, Baraldi M. 2000. Pharmacological profile of apigenin, a flavonoid isolated from Matricaria chamomilla. Biochem Pharmacol 2000 Jun 1; 59(11): 1387-94

Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 85-86; 126-127; 291; 362; 531-533. Rodale Press.

Flynn, R. and Roest, M. 1995. Chamomile in Your Guide to Standardized Herbal Products. One World Press, 601 Granada Drive, Prescott, AZ, 86301; Library of Congress: 94-80040; pp. 14-15.

Foster S, and Duke JA. 1990. Chamomile in Medicinal Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY, p. 84.

Wichtl M (ed). 1994. Chamomillae romanae flos – Chamomile flowers (English translation by Norman Grainger Bisset). In Herbal Drugs and Phyto-pharmaceuticals. CRC Press, Stuttgart, pp. 140-142.