Feed Your Beauty - Month Six
Camomile Lavender Latte
With the summer a distant memory, November sees a warm and comforting drink as part of the Feed Your Beauty series.
Along with your choice of milk, the drink includes two delicious ingredients which are also found within skincare. With ingredients known for their calming effect, this is the ideal night-time beverage.
Camomile or Chamomile
Camomile is the English spelling of this plant. Our friends across the pond spell it chamomile. The word itself comes from the Greek chamaimelon meaning earth-apple. This refers to it growing on the ground and having an apple-like scent. The two best known species are German chamomile and Roman (or English) chamomile, so you will see it spelled both ways, even in the UK and throughout this blog.
Camomile comes from the Asteraceae family and is recognised by its daisy-like flowers – white petals around a yellow seed head, on top of fern-like foliage. The German chamomile (Matricaria chamomile) is a taller plant with petals drooping from a hollow cone at their centre a slightly rounded seed head. Roman chamomile (Anthemis chamomile) is lower growing, with a slightly rounded seed head and larger flowers than the German species.
German chamomile is native to Europe and Asia while Roman chamomile is native to Western Europe and North Africa. Both are grown commercially, and both contain essential oils and antioxidants, including chamazulene which is proven to relax the nervous system.
Camomile has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. It was popular with the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks where it was used to treat wounds and a number of ailments, from colds and sore throats, to skin conditions and insomnia.
Studies showing evidence of the healing in humans have been limited. However, camomile is known for its calming effect. It is believed to reduce anxiety in people but, despite being used as a cure for insomnia, there is no evidence to show that it actually aids sleep.
The powerful flowers can also be utilised as a beauty aid. Used, chilled camomile tea bags are refreshing when placed over tired, puffy eyes. Due to the antioxidants within the camomile, they can improve the look of dark circles and take down swelling.
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
German chamomile, with its sweet straw-like fragrance, is the one most often grown for medicinal purposes, due to its oil being stronger than those from other varieties.
Over the counter, this camomile is available as dried flower heads, tea, liquid extract, capsules and topical ointment. You can dry the flower heads at home and seal them in an airtight container ready to make tea or latte.
Commercially, the flower heads are crushed and steamed to produce a blue oil. The oil contains ingredients that reduce swelling and may contain up to 35% chamazulene. They may also stop the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
Roman chamomile is also known as English or Russian chamomile. It has a light, fresh apple fragrance.
The flowers are used to make an essential oil high in esters (up to 80%). Esters have antispasmodic properties. In addition to the oil having a calming, relaxing effect on the body, the esters are known for reducing the appearance of blemishes, so this is useful when applied topically.
A lower concentration of chamazulene, than German chamomile, is produced from this variety.
Chamazulene and Azulene
The name azulene was given to blue oils by scientists. It is something that occurs naturally in some plants.
Chamazulene relates to azulene with links to camomile/chamomile. The highest concentration comes from German chamomile. Azulene is not present in the plant but formed during the distillation process, as mentioned previously.
Lavender or Lavandula
Lavandula is a genus of 48 species of flowering plants within the mint family - Lamiaceae. There are different varieties and a spectrum of colours from pinks, through grey/blues to ‘lavender’ and purple. The most commonly seen version, true lavender, is Lavandula angustifolia. Angustifolia is Latin for ‘narrow leaf’. This variety is also known as English lavender though not actually native to England. The shrub is actually native to the Mediterranean region, but it was introduced in England in the 1600s. It is understood that Queen Elizabeth was partial to having lavender jam available on her table.
Lavender is an aromatic shrub, cultivated as ornamental plants within gardens. It is also used within culinary dishes and to produce essential oils. Previously, the species angustifolia was known as officinalis which referred to the medicinal properties.
Lavender has been shown to relax the mind and body.
English lavender is grown commercially to produce lavender essential oil which is used within cosmetics, balms, salves and other products applied topically. It is documented that the essential oil was used as an anti-bacterial agent and disinfectant in hospitals during World War I.
The aroma of lavender is known for its relaxing and calming effects. The soothing properties are said to help people fall asleep, so a little lavender oil on your bedding is worth trying if you suffer from insomnia. However, there’s no scientific evidence to back up any claims.
English lavender is the one most commonly used in culinary recipes. It provides a sweet fragrance with citrus notes.
Both the flowers and the leaves may be used to make teas, amongst other things. The foliage gives a milder flavour than tea made using only the flowers.
The flowers are lovely when baked into a shortbread biscuit or for flavouring sugar to be used within different recipes. It is best not to be heavy-handed though, as over-use of the flower can lead to a soapy taste in your dishes.
Lavender flowers also provide an abundance of nectar, leading to production of high-quality honey. Southern France is the largest producer, as the bees must pollinate mainly lavender flowers, so it must be available in abundance.
Camomile Lavender Latte Recipe
This recipe makes one large mug full, but it is so easy to adjust the quantities if you would rather use a smaller cup or want to make it for two or more people.
The latte is ideal as a bedtime drink, or to enjoy on a cold evening in front of the fire as you relax and unwind.
You can choose the milk to suit your own preferences and dietary requirements. Like most recipes, you can adjust this as needed. If you like a sweeter flavour, add honey or maple syrup. If you are counting calories, it is equally tasty without.
Vanilla is a lovely addition, but this too may be omitted if you prefer.
Graphic for the recipe card. Click here for the full recipe.
Camomile and Lavender in Skincare
Camomile gives its antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic benefits to the skin. It is excellent to soothe tender, dry and sensitive skin, and can help to relieve eczema, psoriasis and rosacea.
You will find that both lavender oil and extract is included within some skincare products. Lavender oil is a moisturiser, but as it is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory it can kill bacteria, help fight acne and spots, and generally reduce skin redness. The oil will help soothe eczema and dry, sensitive skin too.
Within Pevonia’s natural skincare range, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil and/or Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract is found within:
Spa Care for Him
Sensitive Skin Line
Camomile flower extract/flower oil or azulene (from camomile) is found in:
Dry Skin Line
Sensitive Skin Line
Stem Cells Phyto-Elite Line
Power Repair® Age-Correction Line
They are both found in:
Dry Skin Line
Spa Care for Him