Guaianolides and Volatile Compounds in Chamomile Tea


Chamomile (German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita L., Asteraceae) is one of the most popular medicinal plants in use as an herbal tea for food purposes and in folk medicine. Qualitative and semi-quantitative analyses of the volatile fraction of chamomile herbal tea were performed. Volatile constituents of the infusion were isolated by two different methods, namely hydrodistillation and solid phase extraction (SPE), and analysed by GC-MS. The relative proportions of particular chemical classes, present in the essential oil and volatile fractions of the infusion showed remarkable differences. The proportion of mono- and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons in the infusion, as compared to the essential oil, was significantly lower. Strikingly, the dichloromethane extract of the infusion contained a lower amount of bisabolol oxides and chamazulene, but higher amounts of spiroethers, sesquiterpene lactones and coumarins, as compared to the hydrodistillates of the herbal drug and the infusion. In addition to the previously known guaianolides matricarin and achillin, acetoxyachillin and leucodin (= desacetoxymatricarin), corresponding C-11 stereoisomers with various biological activities typically occurring in Achillea species, were identified in the dichloromethane extract of chamomile tea for the first time.

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Fig. 1



Chamomile essential oil


Volatile fraction of chamomile infusion obtained by hydrodistillation


Volatile fraction of chamomile infusion isolated by SPE




Gas chromatography – mass spectrometry


Solid phase extraction


Sesquiterpene lactones


Total ion chromatogram


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The authors would like to sincerely thank Prof. Dr. Sabine Glasl-Tazreiter (University of Vienna, Austria) for providing the standard substances of 1 and 2.

Dr. Sara Crockett (University of Graz, Austria) is gratefully acknowledged for proof reading the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Franz Bucar.

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Tschiggerl, C., Bucar, F. Guaianolides and Volatile Compounds in Chamomile Tea. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 67, 129–135 (2012).

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  • Chamomile
  • Guaianolides
  • Essential oil
  • GC-MS
  • Infusion
  • Matricaria recutita