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Matricaria Recutita, more commonly known as German Chamomile or simply Chamomile, is a member of the Aster family of plants. Most commonly known for its use as a popular tea, Chamomile's uses and benefits are far more extensive than you might think. Chamomile has been revered since ancient times as a traditional medicine, scenting agent, tea, and dye. Usage of the plant in herbal remedies can be traced all the way back to ancient Egypt. Despite its long track record of use, Chamomile hasn't lost any pace. In fact, recent scientific advancements have come to prove that Chamomile not only lived up to the hype of our ancestors, but that it is even more useful than previously suspected. With a greater percentage of the population opting for natural products rather than synthetic ones every year, Chamomile has been thrust even further into the limelight.
The combination of this plant's wide variety of healing properties, pleasant scent, and non-irritating nature have, for good reason, made it a common ingredient in many hygiene and beauty products. In this article, we are going to explore the history of Chamomile's use, the components that make the plant such a healing powerhouse, and ways in which you can incorporate Chamomile into your lifestyle to enjoy its many benefits.
History of Chamomile Flower Extract
Chamomile is among the oldest of all traditional herbal medicines, with its first references dating back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptians in the B.C. era. As they say, the strong endure. The Egyptians would use the crushed leaves of the chamomile plant as a soothing agent for dry and reddened skin caused by the harsh desert climate, as well as, ingest the plant as a cure for malaria. They revered the plant so highly that they dedicated it to their god, Ra, the King of all gods in Egyptian mythology.
The ancient Anglo Saxons also believed in the healing powers of the Chamomile plant, counting Chamomile among their nine sacred herbs given to them as gifts from God.
Although the aforementioned civilizations were among the first to use Chamomile for its medicinal properties, they certainly weren't the only ones. Due to its ability to grow in nearly any type of soil and to withstand temperatures ranging from 2 degrees C° to 20 degrees C° Chamomile was spread to many areas of the world throughout history. Resultingly, Chamomile became a well-known and widely used traditional medicine. Due to its wide-spread use among various cultures, it has gone by numerous other names throughout the ages.
Common names: Babuna, Babunj, Baboonig, Camomilla, pinheads, scented mayweed.
Similarly to its variety of names from place to place, the exact uses of Chamomile did, at times, vary from one civilization to another. We will, however, be looking at its numerous traditional uses throughout history collectively.
Chamomile was used as a traditional medicine for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, astringent, and general healing abilities. These properties made it efficient in the treatment of a vast amount of ailments including basic wounds, skin irritations, burns, bruises, neuralgia, hemorrhoids, rheumatic pain, ulcers, and more. Traditional topical preparations of the plant were used to treat chicken pox, eye infections, conjunctivitis, cracked skin, diaper rash, and poison ivy. Chamomile's ability to reduce inflammation in the skin and mucous membranes of the body made it useful in the treatment of bacterial infections of the mouth, skin, and respiratory system.
Chamomile's ability to ease digestive distress made it an effective treatment for infants suffering from colic, whereas its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties made it a common choice for treating infants of both fevers and croup. The plant was also traditionally employed by women as an effective uterine tonic and emmenagogue.
Chamomile – Fast facts
• The common name for Matricaria Chamomilla is German Chamomile
• Matricaria Chamomilla is a member of the Asteraceae family, commonly referred to as the daisy family
• The common name, Chamomile, comes from the Greek words Chamos meaning "ground" and melon meaning "apple."
• Over 120 different chemical components have been identified in the Matricaria Chamomilla
Health benefits of Chamomile Flower Extract
It may be hard to believe that one plant can have so many different and varied uses. Luckily for us, though, these ancient remedies have been proven in recent years through scientific research. Unlike our more primitive ancestors, we have the technology to break the Chamomile extract down into its constituents and see just how it does all of these amazing things. But, hey, it isn't their fault they were born in the wrong century! Let’s take a look at some of the heavy hitters inside Matricaria Recutita that make it the miracle plant that it is.
Although the civilizations of the past may not have quite understood how Chamomile worked to the extent that we do now, they certainly did figure out many of its uses. When comparing the traditional medicinal uses of Chamomile to its modern day medicinal uses, there really isn't a great deal of difference. Due to our long-standing relationship with the plant, we managed to learn many of its secrets long ago. The most notable new applications of Chamomile extract can be seen in cosmetic applications, rather than medicinal ones. Though health has always been a point of concern, personal appearance has not always carried the weight that it does in modern day society.
6 benefits of Chamomile Flower Extract for your skin
In addition to the traditional medicinal uses of the Chamomile plant discussed earlier, Chamomile extract can be used to treat a variety of cosmetic and surface level ailments like acne, skin discoloration, skin irritations, rashes and many others. A few of Chamomile extract's topical uses include:
Chamomile helps in faster wound healing
Chamomile extract's high content of α-bisabolol and apigenin will reduce inflammation, cleanse the wound, bring much needed moisture to the damaged tissues, and soothe any discomfort. This combination of effects will increase the rate of cell regeneration and accelerate the healing process.
Premature skin aging can be caused by various different sources. Among these causes is ionizing radiation, excessive physical or psychological stress, overconsumption of alcohol, poor nutrition, and UV radiation. These various sources of free radicals accelerate the aging process of the cells that compose our skin. α-bisabolol has been shown to inhibit the production of new free radicals when present in concentrations of 7.7-31microg/mL. Due to α-bisabolol’s high concentration in Chamomile extract, it may serve as a deterrent in the production of new free radicals that could cause premature signs of aging.
Chamomile fades dark spots and hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is the technical term for the darkening of the skin. This darkening is usually caused by contact dermatitis, inflammatory skin conditions like acne and psoriasis, and contact with skin allergens. Similarly to the way that the sun causes our bodies to produce melanin, tanning our skin, these conditions can cause the body to produce excessive melanin at the location of the irritation. This is what is responsible for the darkening of the skin. α-bisabolol has been shown to be capable of inhibiting the melanogenesis, or our body's production of melanin, that causes unwanted and unsightly hyperpigmentation of the skin. This makes chamomile a great ingredient in topical treatments for dark spots on the skin.
Chamomile relieves eczema and dermatitis
Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of Chamomile extract, it can be used as a topical treatment for the symptoms of pronounced skin irritations like eczema and dermatitis. The terpenoids chamazulene and α-bisabolol are responsible for the reduction of inflammation. The topical application of the Chamomile extract is effective because it allows the 2 terpenoids to inhibit the signaling of an enzyme involved in the inflammation process. One of the best methods for treating eczema or dermatitis is to dilute about 10-15 drops of the extract in a bathtub and soak the afflicted area for approximately 15-20 minutes. If you aren't a fan of baths, you can always create a warm compress instead.
With the winter quickly approaching, many people tend to suffer from a dry and itchy scalp. To avoid those embarrassing white flakes and the discomfort, try doing a hot oil treatment for your hair. Heat up a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil in a pot until it’s warm to the touch. Once heated, add a few drops of Chamomile extract. The terpenoid α-bisabolol in Chamomile extract is known to assist in the binding of moisture and will help to soften and add suppleness to the scalp.
Chamomile enhances skin penetration
In addition to having its own benefits when applied topically, Chamomile extract is also a penetration enhancer, which can improve the absorption of other topical products into the skin. The increased penetration into the skin makes Chamomile extract a useful additive to moisturizing creams and lotions. Although there are a few other substances that can penetrate the barriers of the skin, Chamomile extract is particularly well suited for the job. Chamomile extract's success as a skin permeating agent can be attributed to its high content of the terpenes chamazulene and α-bisabolol, as well as, its natural and non-toxic nature.
Warnings and Potential Side Effects
Due to the many medicinal and cosmetic uses of Chamomile extract, you may be anxious to get your hands on some. You should, however, always exercise caution when experimenting with new herbal remedies. Although allergic reactions to Chamomile and its extracts are rare, they are possible. Several studies have been conducted on the safety of the consumption of Chamomile and its extracts. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review deemed Matricaria Recutita and its extract as non-irritants and safe for use in cosmetics, whereas the FDA has classified the primary active constituent, α-bisabolol, as Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS). People with known allergies to plants of the same family, such as daisies, ragweed, marigolds, and chrysanthemums should exercise caution before consuming Chamomile or its purified forms.