The Divine Scent of Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

Anthemis nobilis - a classic illustation from Kohler's Medicial Pflanzen

Anthemis nobilis – a classic illustration from Kohler’s Medicinal Pflanzen

I have brushed over the chamomiles previously but would love to go into more detail about Roman chamomile. You can check out my previous blog Softly and Gently with the Chamomiles, but lets go into the world of this special, petit fluer in this article.

As with many plants this chamomile has a couple of botanical names – Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile. Either way you can pick up that it is considered a nobile plant – distinguished by rank and manner. It is part of the Asteracae family (daisies) and the genus Chamaemelum. I’ve always loved daisies because they are so sweet, simple and pretty. This chamomile also has a very pretty scent and the essential oil is magnificent! For a small flower the scent is BIG!

This scent greatly differs from the other chamomile used in Aromatherapy – German chamomile – which is much darker in colour, darker and heavier in scent too. Our beautiful little “Roman” daisy will appeal to everyone from kids to the elderly, and even our pets.

Chamomile - sweet flower, sweet scent

Chamomile – sweet flower, sweet scent

It’s hard to tell the chamomiles apart as a flower but the German chamomile tends to have a more prominent pointed centre with leaves pointing downward, whereas the Roman chamomile flower is generally more balanced and larger, with a flat centre and daisy-like leaves. This is a generalisation and I’m sure the gardeners out there will have something to say about that!

In Aromatherapy today Roman chamomile is used;

* for stomach cramps as it is a great anti-spasmodic

* as a stomach calming oil in general

* as a calming oil in all respects – both physically and mentally

* as a soothing tonic to overwrought emotions

* as a calming oil for children

* for headaches

* for period pain

* for any kind of cramping whether it be in the body, the emotions, the mind or the energetic body

* in body oil blends and treatments for red, inflamed skin

Roman chamomile - pic via

Roman chamomile – pic via

I find it difficult to describe scent but I would say that this oil is sweet and intoxicating, with honey-like tones. This is a description from Wikipedia –

“The word chamomile, and the genus name Chamaemelum come from the Greek χαμαίμηλον (chamaimēlon), “earth-apple”, from χαμαί (chamai), “on the ground” + μήλον (mēlon), “apple”, so-called because of the apple-like scent of the plant. “

I suppose it has an apple-like scent but at least this gives you an idea and also indicates how long this plant has been around.

According to

“Chamomile was known to the Romans and used for incense and in beverages. Ironically, the name ‘Roman Chamomile’ by which it is sometimes known, does not stem from this time, but from a rather arbitary naming of the herb in the 19th century by a plant collector who happened to find some growing in the Colleseum in Rome!”


This site also refers to the use of chamomile in Egypt for treatment of fever but as we know it was various monasteries throughout Europe who consolidated the use of many herbs in the Middle Ages and who’s recipes still exist today in alcoholic beverages and perfumes.

Old medicine = good medicine!

Stay tuned for some recipes with this stunning essential oil which is more commonly retailed in a 3% blend in jojoba. This way we can use it straight from the bottle and it makes a wonderful perfume on it’s own. Fore more info on 3% blends check out my story here.

copyright suzanne




Peppermint Oil! An Oldie but a Goodie!

Ah lovely peppermint - pic via

Ah lovely peppermint – pic via

Peppermint essential oil is usually Mentha piperita and comes from the family Lamiacae, and the genus Mentha. A supplier of mine also offers Mentha arvensis, but really when it comes down to it the variations won’t make a huge difference to the therapeutic value for most users of oils.This family also holds many herbs like lavender, sage, marjoram, patchouli, oregano, thyme and many others. It seems as though this family of plants has been around for thousands of years going back to, at least, the Romans, the Greeks, and it is even recorded in Egyptian records. These are hardy herbs and have wonderful medicinal properties.

Please see my article Essential Oils from Herbs are Spectacular for a more comprehensive list of healing herbs. I’ll be concentrating on these herbs over the next few weeks so stay tuned.

Peppermint lollies - pic via

Peppermint lollies – pic via

Peppermint essential oil is one of the most used oils in the world and this is because it’s use in food flavourings. Peppermint lollies are sweet, cute and fun and for all these reasons I also see peppermint essential oil as an oil of happiness. It appeals to many people, both young and old and is an easily accessible and inexpensive oil.

A typical analysis of peppermint oil shows it is high in menthol and menthane, and these constituents are the ones that give peppermint its heat. Funnily enough this warmth or heat actually translates to a cool feeling, and peppermint could be considered and anti-inflammatory oil.

Peppermint oil is used in aromatherapy today –

* as an antidote for nausea and travel sickness

* to help calm symptoms of irritable bowel (via products that contain peppermint oil)

* as a pain relief for muscles and nerve pains

* as a decongestant for the sinuses


Most people love peppermint - pic via

Most people love peppermint – pic via

I use peppermint oil –

* in a steam inhalation to relieve a headache (it really works well) and sinus headaches and pain

* and in any blend of oils to relieve pain – menstrual pain, muscle pain, aching limbs, arthritis pain

I would not use peppermint oil in many body oils, but I have added it to a blend for a client with psoriasis and eczema and it seems to cool her itchy skin.

Peppermint is good for pain!

It’s also great to clear your mind, wake you up and to make you feel refreshed. It will even do that when you have a good quality mint in your mouth.

Try these recipes –

Take a huge whiff to change your focus in seconds

Take a huge whiff to change your focus in seconds

1. Open The Bottle and Take a Huge Whiff

Peppermint will help with a headache, sinus congestion and a tired mind.

2. Nourishing Body Oil Blend

For a coat of your body use 3 teaspoons of carrier oil in a little dish and, add 7 – 8 drops of essential oil.

***** Always put the drops of essential oil into the bottle or dish first, then add the carrier oil. It gives the scents time to create a synergistic fusion.

For a 50ml bottle of oil add 25 drops and see my articles “Ratios for Blending Essential Oils – A Reminder of the Basics” and  “Aromatherapy – It’s Easy as 1 2 3”

“Calm Down”

For itchy skin or even an irritable feeling –

Peppermint   1 drop

Lavender       4 drops

Patchouli       2 drops


5. Scent Your Space

In a traditional oil burner with a candle or a diffuser add 25 drops of oil

“Happy la la”

Clear the air and make room for some happy vibes –

Peppermint        8 drops

Orange             17 drops


Happy blending and remember to use your intention when you are creating your formulas. See my article about intention.

copyright suzannerbanks 2013





Star Anise, Aniseed and Fennel Essential Oils – What’s the Diff?

Star Anise pic via

Star Anise pic via

Have you ever wondered if these plants (and essential oils) are the same? The one thing they have in common is that they all have an aniseed-licorice scent about them, however they are all different plants and the essential oils are different too (if only slightly). Fennel tends to be the more used essential oil in Aromatherapy but I’m sure some therapists out there may prefer Anise.

Aniseed (or Anise)

Pimpinella anisum - pic via

Pimpinella anisum – pic via

Pimpinella anisum comes from the Umbellifrae (also called Apiacae) family, like fennel. It is very similar to fennel in its scent and has some similar molecules. The plant is also very similar to fennel too – with the flowers making “umbrels” in their innate design (hence the “Umbellifrae’ family). Fennel has more yellow flowers and aniseed flowers are white. The stories of aniseed and fennel both go back to ancient Rome and I love this quote from

“Mustacae, a spiced cake of the Romans introduced at the end of a rich meal, to prevent indigestion, consisted of meal, with Anise, Cummin and other aromatics. Such a cake was sometimes brought in at the end of a marriage feast, and is, perhaps, the origin of our spiced wedding cake.”

It is high in anethole which represents the highly distinctive scent, and Salvatore Battaglia reports the typical analysis as:

85% trans-anethole (a possible dermal irritant)

2.29% cis-anethole

0.94% acetoanisole

0.58% anisaldehyde

0.58% safrole

0.18% linalool

0.17% a-pinene

0.07% camphene

0.01% B-pinene

Even throughout history this seed has been used for coughs, colds, digestive disorders and it’s used for the same thing today. It is said to a better expectorant than fennel too.


fennel flower

fennel flower

Foeniculum vulgare essential oil comes from the seeds like the anise bush and as you can see they are very similar plants. One again the Romans used these seeds for digestion and the Greeks thought it a slimming herb because of its diuretic value. I definitely use fennel to release excess water and also watery emotions in my clients. I often use fennel with juniper and use this combo in clay masks for cellulite too. It seems to be a softer more nurturing oil than aniseed as it is lower in trans anethole. Here’s a typcial analysis from Salvatore Battaglia’s great book “The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy”:

64 – 69.2% trans-anethole

19 – 21.6% fenchone

3.9 – 6.5% methyl chavicol

1.8 – 3.3% a-pinene

1.2 – 1.7% limonene and 1,8 cineole

0.1 – 0.3% anisic aldehyde

0.5 – 0.8& myrcene

Fennel has slightly more uses as it can be used for cramps during menstruation and to help the flow of milk in lactating women. I use this oil energetically as a self nurturing oil as it’s warm and inviting scent can help you relax and release.

Star Anise

Star anise - pic via

Star anise – pic via

Illicium anisatum is part of the Schisandraceae family and you can see the little seeds within the star formations. Sometimes known as Japanese anise it is often mixed up with Chinese anise (Illicum verum) which is very similar. One of my suppliers offers Illicum verum var. Hooker only but I haven’t used it. In my practice I need to be able to use more commonly trialled and investigated oils and that’s why fennel is the best out of the three. Of course in perfumery it’s a different story as you would primarily selecting oils for their scent rather than therapeutic value. The closest I can find in a typical analysis is from “THE ESSENTIAL OIL OF ILLICIUM ANISATUM LINN. by W. B. Cook, A. S. Howard” and they state:

18.1% cineole

10.1% linalool

9.8% methyleugenol

6.8% α-terpenyl acetate

6.6% safrole

and a sesquiterpene hydrocarbon of unknown constitution (7.2%) and they say

“The composition of this oil differs widely from that of the commercially used star anise oil obtained from Illicium verum Hooker. The most striking difference between the two oils is found in the anethole content, which constitutes 88% of the commercial oil but only 1.2% of the oil here investigated.”

So there you go.

Basically if you are going to use an aniseed scented oil go with fennel.

copyright suzannerbanks 2013

Fennel Oil – Licorice Love

Fennel - Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel – Foeniculum vulgare

Fennel is a great oil and the plant itself has many medicinal uses. Back through history there are many references to the plant as being useful for improving eyesight, aiding digestion and also calming hunger, improving the flow of breast milk, helping to breakdown uric acid in the body and stimulating fluid loss through urinating.

Poets and herbalists have praised this wonderful plant, as did the Romans and the Greeks.

In “Paradise Lost” (a poem first published in ten books in 1667) Milton the English poet, refers the aroma of fennel:

A savoury odour blown,

Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense

Than smell of sweetest Fennel.

A 17th Century herbalist, William Cole, notes in his 1650 book “Nature’s Paradise”:

‘both the seeds, leaves and root of our Garden Fennel are much used in drinks and broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their unwieldiness and cause them to grow more gaunt and lank.’

Illustration of a Roman army

Illustration of a Roman army

It’s interesting that both these English references are around the same time which indicates that fennel was well used in the 17th century in England. But before that there are tales of Roman soldiers chewing on fennel seeds on the march when there was no time for resting, or perhaps not much food available. They also regarded it as a medicine to improve eyesight.

It is claimed that the Greeks used fennel as a slimming agent and it even appears in their mythology with Prometheus using a stalk of fennel to steal fire from the Gods.
In India you may often find these delicious little treats to aid digestion – sugar-coated fennel seeds.
sugar coated fennel seeds

sugar coated fennel seeds

Today in aromatherapy we use the essential oil of fennel which is steam distilled from the seeds in much the same way as our predecessors did. Fennel oil is used for:
* stimulating regularity of menses
* helping digestion
* acting as a diuretic for fluid retention and bloating
* stimulating flow of mother’s milk
* relieving coughs by breaking down mucous and by acting as an expectorant
fennel flower

fennel flower

I use fennel oil for all these things and also for nurturing. It is a soft, rounded sweet oil and it blends well with many others. I call it “licorice love” which describes its energetic action of softness, of self-care and sweetness.
Try these recipes:
1. Scent Your SpaceIn a traditional oil burner with a candle or a diffuser add 25 drops of oil

“Be Kind”

Fennel        10 drops

Orange       10 drops

Geranium     5 drops


“Finally A Moment to Myself!”

Fennel        6 drops

Juniper      10 drops

Lavender    6 drops

Patchouli    3 drops


nourish your skin with oil blends

nourish your skin with oil blends

2. Nourishing Body Oil Blend

For a coat of your body use 3 teaspoons of carrier oil in a little dish and, add 7 – 8 drops of essential oil.

***** Always put the drops of essential oil into the bottle or dish first, then add the carrier oil. It gives the scents time to create a synergistic fusion.

For a 50ml bottle of oil add 25 drops and see my article “Aromatherapy – It’s Easy as 1 2 3”

“Oh The Pain”

to help relieve menstrual pain –

Fennel          3 drops

Peppermint  2 drops

Lavender      3 drops


“The Silence of Licorice”

To soften your tension and nerves –

Fennel                            2 drops

Bergamot                       3 drops

Roman Chamomile 3%  9 drops *

* see my article for more info on 3% blends in jojoba


Happy mixing and remember to use your intention when you are blending.
See my article about intention.

copyright suzannerbanks 2013