|Chamomile is used around the world for a wide variety of health benefits. And while its popularity and reputation has grown throughout the years, what is less commonly known are the differences between its two main varieties.|
German (matricaria recutita) and Roman (anthemis nobilis) Chamomile are actually two different species and are distinguished by their differentiating properties.
Chamomile, like all essential oils, is identified through its specific chemical composition. The differences between German and Roman Chamomile can be clearly seen in its chemical makeup listed below:
- German Chamomile: α-bisabolol, chamazulene, a coumarin: umbelliferone, flavonoids: luteolin, apigenin, quercetin, tannins, anthemic acid, choline, polysaccharides and phytoestrogens [1,3],
- Roman Chamomile: chamazulene, bisabolol, flavonoids: quercetin, apigenin, luteolin, a coumarin: scopoletin-7-glucoside, angelic and tiglic acid esters, anthemic acid, fatty acids and choline [1,2].
Based on chemical composition, we’re able to draw a few conclusions:
- Roman Chamomile contains esters: isobutyl angelate or isobutyl isobutanoate, which are absent in the German variety. The esters found in Roman Chamomile give the oil a characteristic aroma adding a brighter smell and sweeter top notes. These compounds have also shown to exhibit antimicrobial properties against a whole range of microorganisms such as: Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacteria and even Candida albicans .
- German Chamomile’s is known for its abundance in α-bisabolol which is its main chemical constituent. It exhibits potent anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti -microbial properties ; many find the oil to be helpful in skin inflammatory conditions like eczema, acne or rashes. It also exhibits a wonderful aroma characterized by a rich, warm and sweet earthy tone coupled with a slightly tobacco-like tailend.
- Both oils are filled with flavonoids and antioxidants which have been shown to alleviate inflammation. In addition, they also protect the skin from bacterial and fungal infections. Moreover, the apigenin found in Chamomile binds to GABA receptors in our nervous system, inducing a calming and anti-anxiety effect .
- Chamazulene is another chemical constituent found in both species and has been found to add to and augment the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil. Of the two oils, German Chamomile tends to richer in this component .
- Most of the listed substances with the addition of tannins found in the plants have spasmolytic effects on smooth muscle cells. Historically, these effects have been used worldwide in the form of a tea or brew to help bring relief to overreactive bowels.
Popular uses of these oils vary. Most prefer to diffuse Roman Chamomile to take advantage of its antibacterial effects, while German Chamomile is usually applied topically to reduce inflammation. Many studies also suggest both working wonderfully on the skin for bacterial irritations. Roman Chamomile has also been used historically by rubbing the oil on the skin to relieve belly aches in a very short amount of time.
- Shahram Sharafzadeh, Omid Alizadeh; German and Roman Chamomile
- Andrea Antonem, Cristiano Fabbri; Study on Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile L. All.) Oil
- J. Fejer, I. Salamon; Breeding of German chamomile, Matricaria recutita L. with a high content of α-bisabolol
- Stefanie Bail, Gerhard Buchbauer, Leopold Jirovetz, Zapriana Denkova, Alexander Slavchev, Albena Stoyanova, Erich Schmidt, Margit Geissler; Antimicrobial Activities of Roman Chamomile Oil From France and Its Main Compounds