My bottle of Cape Chamomile (Eriocephalus punctulatus) arrived in the mail this week much to my delight. I’ve only just stumbled onto this oil through the tip of Marge Clark at Nature’s Gift. I was on a quest to find a possible topical application for a consult I had on vitiligo, an auto-immune condition that can be exacerbated by stress. Ms. Clark recommended the Cape Chamomile as a deeply relaxing oil and I knew I had to check this one out!
Since aromatherapy school I’ve been playing with the group of essential oils known as the “chamomiles.” With the addition of Cape Chamomile here’s the family:
- Cape Chamomile (Eriocephalus Punctulatus) – a light-blue, fruity oil used primarily for stress.
- German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) – an indigo blue oil with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
- Moroccan Chamomile (Tanecetum annuum) – another deep blue oil known by its common name Blue Tansy, I use it for its antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. [Tanecetum annuum is not to be confused with Ormenis mixta, the latter being a perfume industry oil with little known clinical applications.
- Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) – a fruity oil like the Cape Chamomile with antispasmodic and relaxant properties. Quite lovely in a pre-bedtime bath to quiet the mind and soothe an aching body. The Roman and German Chamomiles combine nicely as a massage or bath oil for joint pain, arthritis and the ‘Weekend Warrior’ syndrome.
Cape Chamomile Essential Oil
The essential oil of Cape Chamomile is distilled from the flowering parts and leaves of the wildcrafted plant. Found native only to South Africa it is described as a small shrub with white flowers growing on the Northeast slopes of the Drakensberge mountains.
Native uses for the herb range from hut fumigation and digestive complaints but the chemistry of the essential oil suggests different therapeutic properties. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, or GC/MS, shows the Cape Chamomile is high in esters, a constituent that gives us a fruity aroma and is known to have sedative actions. Other essential oils that have a large percentage of esters include True Lavender and Roman Chamomile – both known to promote a relaxation response.
Applications for the Cape Chamomile
Stress is a common complaint amongst clients walking into my office every day of the week. I am often on the lookout for ways to enhance my Reflexology treatments, as well as offer a variety of options to clients in an Aromatherapy Consultation. The first order of business I have for the Cape Chamomile is in a sleep blend for several of my insomniac clients. My research on this oil leads me to believe the Cape Chamomile could help ‘turn off’ the chatter some of us experience prior to bedtime or at 3am that prevents us from achieving a restful night’s sleep.
When a client asks me about the best method of application for employing aromatherapy at bedtime I frequently recommend a way to diffuse the essential oil(s) into the air in the bedroom. Aside from this application I am also a great fan of the pre-bedtime aromatic bath.
So far I have diffused Cape Chamomile at home and here in the office. I have two clients giving this oil a test drive presently for sleep and stress relief, can’t wait to hear back from them next week!
- Composition of commercial Cape chamomile oil (Eriocephalus punctulatus / Eriocephalus tenuifolius) Hanco-Gisbert Mierendorff, Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup , Maarten A. Posthumus and Teris A. van Beek.
- Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice (Second Edition), Jane Buckle, 2003 Elsevier Science [Churchill Livingstone].