What is the world’s most popular herb? Chamomile, of course! It is said more than one million cups of the tea are consumed daily. I believe it, because I am one of the many, almost daily chamomile tea drinkers. It is one of the best de-stressers known to the modern world.
Benefits of chamomile’s flowers
Nicholas Culpeper gives a long list of complaints for which chamomile is “profitable”: “The flowers boiled in lye are good to wash the head; the bathing with a decoction of chamomile takes away weariness, eases pains, to whatever part of the body it is employed.”
The flowers of the chamomile plant are recommended as a tonic for dropsy and for the abnormal accumulation of fluid in certain tissues and cavities of the body. Beneficial in their diuretic and tonic properties, they are combined with diaphoretics, which produce perspiration, and other stimulants with benefits.
Chamomile flowers are also extensively used alone or combined with an equal quantity of crushed poppy heads, as poultice and fomentation for external swelling and inflammatory pain. The extracted oil when diluted in vegetable oil eases the pain of rheumatism and gout.
Chamomile’s essential oil
Chamomile’s essential oil is very valuable in cosmetic preparations. The main component of chamomile’s blue essential oil is a compound called azulene. Azulene is said to reduce inflammation and inhibit bacterial growth, which would coincide with why it was traditionally used to speed wound healing and prevent gangrene.
Up to 50% of the essential oil consists of bisabolol, which is highly regarded for its relaxing action on the skin. Bisabolol has numerous pharmacological effects that may account for many of its historic uses. It is known to be effective for reducing inflammation, and its antimicrobial properties make it advantageous both on the skin and to aid in formulation preservation. A recent study shows that bisabolol taken internally speeds up the healing of ulcers and can prevent them from reoccurring.
Popularity of chamomile
Like calendula, chamomile is greatly loved and used often by cosmetic chemists because it is known to be virtually non-toxic, except to a few people allergic to ragweed. Chamomile penetrates the skin easily and seems to work well with all other herbs. In fact, my personal experience is that putting chamomile in a product aids in the penetration of all the herbal extractions and makes the product more effective. Many formulators also use it in products for marketing reasons—it is the world’s best-known herb. Whatever the reason, chamomile is beneficial in all body care products, including, but not limited to, flower or massage oils, toners, mists, bath products, steam facials, moisturizers, cleansers, lotions, creams, eye products to reduce puffiness, sensitive skin, and shampoos.