The Chamomile Family

In the world of essential oils, there are three Chamomiles: one is German, another is Roman and the last one Moroccan. Though these siblings have much in common, they do have differences that go beyond their point of origin. Let's explore this exotic family to see what each has to offer.

German, AKA Hungarian or Blue, Chamomile, is a bright-blue oil steam-distilled from the flowers of the Matricaria Chamomilla plant. This strain of chamomile grows in most parts of Europe, particularly the central and northern regions. The oil itself has a high viscosity and a warm, somewhat bitter, strongly herbaceous flavor with a fresh-fruity undertone. Though the blue can fade to a light brown over time, the oil loses none of its efficacy.

The brilliant blue of German Chamomile marks it as a source high in azulene (a singularly effective agent against infections). Not surprisingly, German Chamomile is known as a strong skin healer, and it works well for such skin ailments as acne, eczema, dermatitis, and more. Of the three chamomiles, German is best suited for external purposes such as massage.

Roman Chamomile, on the other hand, is better suited for internal uses. Produced in small quantities each year from cultivations in England, Belgium, and France, this pale-blue liquid is steam distilled from the ligulate florets of the Anthemis Nobilis plant. This oil is a highly mobile liquid with a sweet herbaceous, fruity-warm, tea-leaf-like odor and a bitter, chemical or medicinal taste. Because of its lighter hue, Roman Chamomile is sometimes preferred to its German brother for certain applications. Like German chamomile, its color fades over time without losing potency.

What makes Roman Chamomile special is its high ester count. At greater than 80%, it is one of the highest percentages in the essential oil world. Traditional aromatherapy uses range from antidepressant to emollient to bactericidal. Though not as effective on skin disorders as German, Roman Chamomile is used to treat skin maladies such as eczema and psoriasis.

Different from its brothers in both use and appearance, the black sheep of the chamomile family is Chamomile Moroccan. Though related to German chamomile botanically, it differs both chemically and olfactorily, and doesn't physically appear like the German plant at all. (These differences, along with its distinct uses, cause some experts to argue Moroccan chamomile is not even a chamomile!)

Steam distilled from the flowering tops of Ormenis Multicaulis, a plant native to Northwest Africa, Chamomile Moroccan oil is pale to brownish yellow in color with a sweet, tenacious balsamic undertone reminiscent of ambra. It blends well with a range of oils, including artemisia oils, cypress, vetiver, lavender and olibanum.

Chamomile Moroccan cannot be used as a replacement for either German or Roman chamomile. Possessed of no traditional aromatherapy uses, it is used almost exclusively in the fragrance trade as a topnote in colognes. Its strengths here are particularly keen: even the most minute quantity is pleasantly noticeable.

As diverse as any human family, knowing the entire Chamomile family is well worth your time. LNP has them all under one roof.