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Whenever I purchase bag of dried chamomile flowers, I hurry to open it to smell the lovely apple-scented fragrance that comes from the tiny, yellow buds.
I then smile, and all feels right with the world.
Yes, I’m an herb-loving goofball, but truly, these flowers are one of the best natural remedies to keep on hand.
…and the apple scent is not all in my head, the Greek work for Chamomile actually means, “earth apple” or “ground apple.” So, it’s sweet apple fragrance has been long recognized.
Well known for it’s calming ability, chamomile is most frequently consumed as a warm drink (in tea form). It’s also a common addition to relaxing herbal tea bath and makes a wonderful herb-infused vinegar for a skin-soothing bath soak (also, learn how to make herbal vegetable glycerin tinctures here).
Chamomile is one of the most mild herbs and is often well-tolerated by children and adults. Although, those with allergies to the ragweed family may also be allergic to chamomile.
Besides inducing a feeling of calm and relaxation, chamomile is also known for its ability to aid digestion. Drinking a strong chamomile tea can alleviate minor gastric distress and enhance digestion.
This benefit also aids babies and young children with colic or fussiness and is often administered in a glycerite tincture.
Chamomile is also useful in treating external issues as it’s soothing ability is helpful in treating inflammatory conditions.
Some external uses for chamomile include:
Using Chamomile to Treat Cold Sores
Chamomile is not often seen in cold sore remedies, but it is a great addition to our DIY herbal cold sore ointment as part of your treatment plan, as its anti-inflammatory nature helps to soothe irritation and heal wounds.
A scientific study in Germany compared the ability of various oils in targeting the herpes simplex virus (which causes cold sores). Of all the oils, which all showed “high levels” of antiviral activity, chamomile oil was shown to be particularly effective, even against strains of the herpes simplex virus that didn’t respond to acyclovir (an antiviral drug).1
Besides being helpful in targeting the virus, chamomile is also gentle enough to calm the wound without causing further irritation.
Chamomile also contains bisabolol which is has been found to reduce skin irritation and promote healing.2
Chamomile could be applied to cold sores in a variety of ways, such as placing a cooled tea bag on the sore or a chamomile-infused oil. I prefer an ointment as it is easy to apply and can be infused with other helpful herbs.
Lemon balm is also very useful in treating cold sores, so I like to combine both herbs to create a soothing cold sore treatment.
DIY Herbal Cold Sore Ointment (featuring chamomile & lemon balm)
- 2/3 cup carrier oil, plus an extra 2 tablespoons for topping up, if needed (first, learn all about carrier oils here, and then purchase small amounts from Scratch Mommy Founder Jess in her store, Pronounce Skincare & Apothecary)
- .25 oz chamomile flowers (certified organic chamomile flowers)
- .25 oz lemon balm (certified organic lemon balm)
- .5 oz beeswax (naturally-derived, kosher certified, fair-trade beeswax)
- 10 drops lemon balm (Melissa) essential oil (certified organic lemon balm EO)
- 5 drops Roman chamomile essential oil (certified organic Roman chamomile EO)
- Optional: 1 teaspoon castor oil (certified organic castor oil)
- You will also need tins or jars and organic cheesecloth
Step One: Infuse Oil
The chamomile and lemon balm will first need to be infused into your choice of carrier oil. I prefer the cold method, as it extracts the beneficial properties of the herbs without much work (just put the ingredients into a jar and wait), but there are two other heated options below (providing much faster infusions and end-results).
If you are able to infuse herbs via this method (meaning, you don’t need to make this ASAP), simply fill a jar about ¼ of the way with dried chamomile flowers and lemon balm. Crumble the herbs slightly as you place them in the jar, as this will allow more of the herbs to be extracted. Pour oil over the herbs until the jar is mostly full. Stir and then close with lid. Put jar in a dark place for 4 to 6 weeks.
If you need the infusion quickly, try one of the two following heated methods of infusion…
- Place herbs in a heat proof jar (such as a canning jar) and add the oil. Stir to combine. Place jar in a saucepan and pour water into the saucepan so it comes about ¼ way up the side of the jar. Simmer over low heat for at least 4 hours. It is highly important that you stay close by as more water may need to be added to the pan throughout this time.
- A quicker heating method can be achieved by placing herbs and oil in the top of a double boiler and warming for about an hour. This is Scratch Mommy Founder Jess’s preferred method when using heat, as there is less possibility that water will enter your herb-infused oil (see our detailed post here re: DIY etiquette for skincare).
Either way you infuse with heat, the next process is the same. Once oil has been infused, strain out the herbs. Use cheesecloth and squeeze out (with clean hands!) as much oil as possible.
Step Two: Prepare Ointment
Measure out 1/2 cup of infused oil. If you do not have 1/2 cup after the oil has been infused, top up with extra oil until it makes 1/2 cup.
Place infused oil, beeswax, and castor oil in the top of a double boiler (a pot with shallow, warm water and a glass bowl on top with these ingredients). Do not boil the water in the pot!
Pour into clean tins or jars. Allow to cool completely before closing with lid.
Apply to cold sores as needed. This ointment will keep for approximately one year.
Important note: When applying to a cold sore, it’s best to remove a small amount of ointment with a utensil, such as a cotton swab, to avoid contaminating the ointment.
If lemon balm EO is too expensive for your budget, you can increase the amount of lemon balm herb in the oil to make a stronger infusion. You might also consider adding organic tea tree essential oil to the mixture as it has also been shown to have a direct antiviral effect on the herpes simplex virus.3
Purchase ingredients to make this DIY herbal cold sore salve from Scratch Mommy Founder Jess over at Pronounce Skincare & Apothecary.
Note: I have personally found this DIY recipe to be useful for me and my own issues with cold sores. Please consult with your own herbalist, doctor, etc for further guidance. I do not give medical advice.