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Centipeda - Chamaemelum

(Daisy or Sunflower family)


Centipeda cunninghami A. Brown & Asch.
Common Sneezeweed

The powdered leaf is used as a snuff. The plant is thought to cause swollen eyes and nostrils in sheep (Hurst 1942).

Centipeda thespidioides F.Muell.

In Australia, Turner (1980) observed a weakly positive patch test reaction 96 hours after applying this species to the skin of a 68 year old male patient with dermatitis attributable to picking firebush (Ixodia achillaeoides R.Br.) and wild artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L.).

Chaenactis carphoclinia DC.


Chaenactis douglasii Hook. & Arn.

Eupatoriopicrin, a potentially allergenic sesquiterpene lactone (Mitchell & Dupuis 1971), has been isolated from these species (Geissman & Atala 1971).

Chamaemelum nobile All.
[syns Anacyclus aureus L., Anthemis nobilis L., Anthemis odorata Lam., Matricaria nobilis Baill.]
Chamomile, English Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Römische Kamille, Camomille Romaine

This is a strong-smelling perennial cultivated for ornamental purposes and for its fragrant herbage. The dried yellow flowers are used to make a herbal tea, which is a domestic remedy for indigestion, and in the preparation of wet compresses for the skin, which are sometimes applied externally in inflammation (Wade 1977). It is also incorporated into creams and ointments for application to wounds, sore nipples, and nappy rash (Wren 1988). Chamomile tea is available in health food stores under many brand names. Tea made from chamomile flower heads may cause contact dermatitis, anaphylaxis, and other severe hypersensitivity reactions in patients allergic to ragweed (Ambrosia L.), Aster L., Chrysanthemum L., or other members of the family Compositae. Patients allergic to any member of this plant family should avoid teas made from floral heads of golden rod (Solidago L.), marigold (Tagetes L.), and yarrow (Achillea L.) (Benner & Lee 1973).

Hausen (1979) reported that the plant has a high sensitising potential in guinea pigs.

Contact with the plant has caused contact dermatitis in farmers (Hissard 1946), in a plant collector (Babini 1949), and in pharmaceutical chemists (Schwartz et al. 1957). Compresses of chamomile (Jadassohn & Zaruski 1927) and chamomile ointment (Beetz et al. 1971a) can cause dermatitis; drinking chamomile tea can exacerbate contact dermatitis (Babini 1949). Weakly positive patch test reactions to the petals have been observed in three patients reacting more strongly to Anthemis arvensis L. (Möslein 1963). Van Ketel (1982) obtained positive patch test responses to Chamaemelum nobile in a patient with contact allergy caused by Matricaria chamomilla. Cross-sensitivity to Chrysanthemum L. and other members of the Compositae has also been observed (Leipold 1938, Hausen 1979). Fivoli (1936) obtained positive patch test reactions with the blossoms, negative with the leaves of Roman chamomile. One of 290 (Meneghini et al. 1971) and 3 of 200 patients (Beetz et al. 1971a) showed positive patch test reactions to Roman chamomile oil and to a chloroform extract of Roman chamomile respectively.

An anaphylactoid reaction from a tea (Benner & Lee 1973) and asthma from an enema (Jaeggy 1931) have been reported.

A fragrance raw material known as Roman chamomile oil, English chamomile oil, or chamomile oil is prepared by steam distillation of the dried flowers of this species. The oil, when applied under occlusion to rabbit skin for 24 hours, was moderately irritating. When applied at a dilution of 4% in petrolatum to human skin in a 48 hour closed patch test, no irritant reactions were observed. A maximisation test failed to sensitise any of 25 volunteers (Opdyke 1974). No phototoxic effects could be demonstrated with the undiluted oil (Forbes et al. 1977).

The plant yields nobilin, a potentially allergenic sesquiterpene lactone.

Richard J. Schmidt

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