We studied the essential oil production of cultivated (BK-2, Degumil) and wild chamomile populations of 4 typical chamomile-rich regions of Hungary. We examined the essential oil composition of flowers, herbs (stem plus leaves) and roots using GC and GC/MS methods. Among cultivated species, the Hungarian BK-2 contains more chamazulene in its essential oil than the German Degumil type, which is mainly cultivated for its a-bisabolol. Both components have important antiinflammatory activities. Wild populations can be easily distinguished from cultivated ones by their high amount of bisaboloides, particularly the flower of Szabadkigyos wild type, which contained on average 48 % of the biologically active (-)-α-bisabolol. The regional wild chamomile samples mentioned above have already been examined previously in our Institute. We found it interesting to compare the content of biologically active components, at the same conditions, of presently promising populations with the results obtained 20 years ago from the same species. While the content of the essential oil of rural Szabadkígyós wild type remained unchanged, there was a trend of the essential oil components towards the therapeutically important compounds. The amount of (-)-α-bisabolol in Szabadkígyós mounted up to a 3-fold increase and we measured a doublefold increase of chamazulene content in BK-2 compared with samples 20 years ago. We can conclude that although a change was observed in the essential oil content and also in the proportion of different components, the fundamental characteristics of the oils remained the same. To keep the genom of Szabadkígyós wild type having high (-)-α-bisabolol content, we used biotechnological methods. The sterile roots of organised culture contained also β-eudesmol, wich was firstly identified from the intact roots by us. Our gas chromatographical and mass-spectroscopical studies showed that sterile chamomile cultures generated the most important terpenoid and polyin compounds characteristic of the mother plant. We identified berkheyaradulene, α-selinene, geranyl-isovalerate and cedrol as new components in these sterile cultures.
- Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita, syn.: Matricaria recutita)
- Essential oil
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