Posted by Daniel Powers on 08-30-2023
German chamomile and Roman chamomile are two herbs that are often compared to each other due to their similar names.
Roman chamomile is known for its powerful essential oils. On the other hand, German chamomile is well noted for its use as a bedtime tea, as well as for supporting digestive health.
Before you make a decision on which herb to buy, there are a few key distinctions between these two herbs. We'll dig deep into the differences between German chamomile and Roman chamomile, as well as their similarities, in this article.
German Chamomile Overview & Uses:
German chamomile is known scientifically as Matricaria recutita. This herb has been used for millennia for its various health benefits.
In traditional herbal medicine, German chamomile was said to have a relaxing effect on the body.
When made as tea, this herb may be used to improve sleep, relax the mind, and support healthy digestion. Additionally, German Chamomile has also been used to support healthy wound healing as part of various balms and salves.
Check out our German chamomile tea recipe here.
1. May Improve Sleep
Proper sleep is crucial for both physical and mental well-being. While chamomile does not possess strong sedative properties that forcefully induce sleep, it is recognized as a reliable natural remedy for promoting restful sleep.
A clinical trial found that drinking German chamomile tea helped to improve sleep quality. The researchers noted that the chamomile was fast-acting as the trial only lasted two weeks.
Another study found that taking a chamomile supplement improved sleep quality in elderly individuals. The researchers noted that chamomile seemed to reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. It also improved sleep efficiency and overall sleep quality.
2. Mental Relaxation
Mental stress gets to all of us. Using natural calming herbs like German chamomile is crucial for keeping your cool, even when life gets hectic.
This is backed by clinical research, which shows that taking a chamomile supplement significantly lowered stress levels. The researchers noted that few side effects were reported which led to the conclusion that long-term use of chamomile appears to be safe.
In another clinical trial, chamomile was shown to reduce mental stress and feelings of overwhelm.
3. Digestive Health
Maintaining a healthy digestive system is key for overall health and wellness.
In traditional herbal medicine, chamomile was used to help ease digestive complaints. This herb was said to reduce gastrointestinal complaints and bloating.
This is backed by a study that discovered that consuming chamomile has a relaxing effect on the digestive system of mice.
Roman Chamomile Overview & Uses:
Roman chamomile is known scientifically as Chamaemelum nobile. Roman chamomile comes from Europe, but can now be found growing around the world.
Unlike German chamomile, Roman chamomile is often used for its essential oil, which is rich in various phytochemicalsm including:
- n-Hexadecanoic acid
- linoleic acid
- and other esters
Traditionally, Roman chamomile was used to help with nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and gas. Today, it’s often used to support mental relaxation. It’s also thought to help with wound healing.
1. Digestive Health
Roman chamomile is thought to benefit the digestive system.
A lab study found that it had antispasmodic effects. This property could be helpful for calming the digestive system.
2. Skin Health
Roman chamomile has also been used for its benefit for skin health and wound healing.
A clinical trial showed that a skin cream containing Roman chamomile was shown to be helpful for improving skin health and reducing discomfort.
Roman Chamomile vs German Chamomile: Similarities & Differences
When it comes to comparing Roman chamomile versus German chamomile, there are a few key similarities and differences to keep in mind.
From a botany perspective, Roman chamomile grows close to the ground whereas German chamomile grows upright on a long stem. Roman chamomile leaves are also thicker than German chamomile.
As far as health benefits go, both German chamomile and Roman chamomile have similar effects in that they help to support the digestive system, promote mental relaxation, and help to support sleep quality.
In fact, these herbs are often used interchangeably with each other.
That said, there are differences between these two kinds of chamomile. This is mainly seen in their differing phytochemical profiles.
For instance, German chamomile contains chamazulene, a phytochemical that gives its essential oil a beautiful blue color. On the other hand, Roman chamomile is higher in esters, which are thought to give it its calming properties.
The form of the herb that’s used is often different as well. German chamomile is often sold as dried flower tops which can be made into tea. Roman chamomile is often sold as an essential oil.
Roman Chamomile vs German Chamomile: Which Is Right For You?
Since there are a variety of different types of chamomile and each one has a different form, below is a cheat sheet for deciphering how to use each type of chamomile.
- German Chamomile Flowers – Best used as a tea. Delicious flavor and aroma. Best take it before bed as it helps with mental relaxation and sleep quality. Can also help to settle the stomach.
- German Chamomile Essential Oil – Typically used for improving skin conditions. Best when mixed with other herbs as it has a deep blue color.
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil – Has a fantastic fruity, sweet scent. Great when used for mental relaxation as an aromatherapy.
It should be noted that dried Roman chamomile flowers are typically not used in their whole form.
Both Roman chamomile and German chamomile are generally well-tolerated and safe to consume.
Each type of chamomile has its different uses and benefits. Consider testing each herb form before deciding between them.
You may discover that one is superior to the other, or vice versa! Alternatively, combine them to see whether you get a synergistic effect.
At Starwest Botanicals, we have a variety of different types of chamomile available for purchase, including:
- German Chamomile Flowers (organic)
- German ChamomileExtract
- German Chamomile Essential Oil
- Roman Chamomile Flower Water
- Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Have you tried both forms of chamomile? Which one is your favorite?
Daniel has a master's degree in herbal science from the Maryland University of Integrative Health. He's the founder of The Botanical Institute, where he writes about the health benefits of herbs.