Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chamomile extract

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I'm a big fan of chamomile for anti-inflammatory and anti-redness features, but what else does it offer?

The chamomile we see comes in two species - Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) or German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). England seems to prefer the Roman chamomile, while the rest of the world tends towards the German. The German chamomile is considered "stronger" than the Roman. (I will be concentrating on the German chamomile in this post, but it still applies for Roman chamomile, although the latter tends to less concentrated levels of each property.)

We find chamomile extract in two forms - hydrophilic in the form of the powdered extract and hydrosol, lipophilic in the form of the essential oil. (I'll be concentrating on the powdered extract and hydrosol, leaving the essential oil for a post when we get that that topic!) The liphophilic portion of chamomile oil contains coumarins, phytosterols, choline, and flavones. The hydrophilic portion contains flavonoids, phenols, and amino acids. The essential oil can cost many more times than the extract, so let's take a look at how to get the awesome power of chamomile into our products without breaking the bank!

So what's the big deal about chamomile? It's a great anti-inflammatory (an anti-phlogistic, meaning it reduces inflammation and fever), as well as being a good anti-oxidant, anti-spasmodic, and wound healer. I've seen claims it might ameliorate the look of UV damaged skin and reduce stinging and irritation. So does it? Let's find out!

One of the major components of chamomile for anti-inflammatory purposes is α-bisabolol, a sesquiterpene found mostly in the essential oil, but we do get some in the powdered extract and hydrosol (most hydrosols contain some of the essential oils...). It is a fantastic anti-irritant, at 1% is almost on par with lidocaine for reducing irritation on our skin, and it can prevent or reduce redness and stinging. It can reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) for up to 48 hours, but it isn't in any way considered an anti-oxidant and does not influnce skin barrier repair. And the awesome part? It is substantive to skin, meaning if we include it in a rinse off product (like body wash) it sticks around after washing!

α-bisabolol can penetrate our skin to promote production in the granular tissue under the stratum corneum, which will improve skin's texture and elasticity as well as helping with UV damage.

The other major component contributing to the awesome anti-inflammatory power of chamomile is the apigenin, found in the hydrophilic part of the chamomile flower. It is well absorbed by our skin to inhibit adhesion between our skin cells, leading to exfoliation of upper and lower layers of the stratum corneum.
(For an interesting summary of studies on apigenin and inflammation, click here.) As little as 0.05% in our creations will be enough to get the awesome power of apigenin.

Chamazulene (or chamazulen) is a flavonoid that gives chamomile its yellow colour. It is extracted from the flower as a deep blue oil - it's part of the oil soluble part of the flower, but we do find some in the extract and hydrosol - and it is considered to offer great anti-inflammatory qualities.

Chamomile also contains luteolin in the water soluble portion, a glycoside that offers anti-inflammatory properties as well as anti-oxidant properties (it's a free radical scavenger).

Chamomile also contains quercetin (anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant) and kaempferol (strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory).

As you can see, chamomile is a very powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, and anti-oxidant extract we can include in our liquid, surfactant, or lotion-y creations at 0.5% in the cool down phase after dissolving it with a little warm water. If you want to use the essential oil, use it at suggested amounts in the cool down phase in an anhydrous or emulsified product.

Chamomile can cause allergic reactions in people sensitive to wheat and daisies, so as with any botanical extract, test it first! The essential oil should not be used with pregnant women - it can cause miscarriages - or breastfeeding women.

Join me tomorrow for fun formulating with chamomile (although that last paragraph seems a little scary, eh?)!


Nihad Hadzibegic said...

Comment is usefull and comprehensive. I wander if chamomile might be usefull for candidiasis, because of it's polyphenols. I suppose that ccombination of antifungal and antiinflammatory properties of the chamomile could be usefull for candidiasis treatment, at least externally

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Nihad. I don't make claims of a medical nature on this blog, so I'm afraid I wouldn't know if it would be able to treat yeast in our bodies!

LilyPad15 said...

Where can I buy roman chamomile hydrosol in Canada. I've had no luck with any of the recommended suppliers except the one that isn't recommended.

Febe said...

I understand hydrosols and waters. What is chamomile extract and where can i purchase some? Is it a powder - chamomile powder? Extract to me is something liquid. Chamomile flowers made into an extract? I want to make this lotion, but don't know where to get chamomile extract.

Thank you!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Febe. Extracts can be liquid or powders. I get chamomile powder from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Surrey, B.C., but there are loads of other suppliers. Check out the lists in the FAQ for a supplier near you.

LilyPad15 said...

Can you please answer my question!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

I can't answer your question, LilyPad15, as I don't have an answer. I don't keep up on what suppliers are carrying what ingredients as that would take up so much of my time. My only suggestion is to check out the suppliers listed in the FAQ and ask them what they carry.

LilyPad15 said...

Thank you! I've already checked them all. Would the powder extract mixed with witch hazel work?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi LilyPad15. Definitely. I use the powdered extract all the time as I hate the smell (and the cost) of the essential oil.

Katrina Li said...

I never found extract, only essential oil and Alpha-bisabolol. Do powder is the same as extract? Is it just powdered plant or powdered extract? I use alpha-bisabolol for winter creams and sunscreens, it smells like a flower and helps skin to recover after damage. For those, who can't find extract, I recommend to use just alpa-bisabolol instead!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Katrina. I get mine at Voyageur Soap & Candle although I know there are other suppliers who carry it.

What do you think of the alpha-bisabolol? What are you using it for?

Sharon Colbourne said...


Do you know which is stronger or more effective an all uses, the powder or the oil or the flower form?

Many thanks

Sara Kellner-Tsulis said...

I'm trying to find information on chamomile essential oil causing miscarriages or a warning against using it while nursing but I'm not able. Could you please point me in the direction of your source of that information? It would be super helpful for my pre/post-natal clients.