Chamomile - March Featured Herb
We are featuring 2 different kinds of chamomile, Roman chamomile and
For Matricaria recutita, German chamomile, the genus Matricaria is derived
from the Latin matrix, meaning "womb," most likely
because chamomile is widely used to treat such gynecologic complaints as
menstrual cramps and sleep disorders related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
English or Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, formerly called Anthemis
is a different species, yet it shares many of German chamomile's
chemical constituents and, therefore, many of its actions.
Roman chamomile is a small perennial herb, with a hairy stem and feathery pinnate
leaves, daisy like white flowers (larger than those of German chamomile) and grows
about 25 cm high, while German chamomile grows about 60 cm high and has a
hairless branching stem, with delicate feathery leaves and simple daisy like
white flowers on single stems.
Chamomile, or more specifically, typically the tops gathered in the early stages
of flowering, reduces cramping and spastic pain in the bowels.
To the Egyptians it was a herb dedicated to the sun, to cure fevers
and to the moon, for its cooling ability.
It was also recognized as a soother of nervous complaints and was used in
shampoos, cosmetics and perfumes.
It is an anodyne, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, calmative, carminative,
diaphoretic, and tonic.
It can be used for colds, headaches and nervousness.
It is particularly effective in treating stomach and intestinal cramps.
- Take an infusion, 1 cup at a time, two or three times a day for
cramps, dizziness, gas, indigestion and nervous stomach.
- Chamomile reduces cramping and spastic pain in the bowels and also
relieves excessive gas and bloating in the intestines.
It is often used to relieve irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and
gastroenteritis (what we usually call stomach flu).
- Chamomile is an ideal choice for those with ulcers or other stomach
problems aggravated by anxiety.
- Taken before mealtime, it stimulates the appetite.
- Chamomile is also an excellent calming agent, well suited for irritable,
colicky babies (in small amounts)
and restless children.
Chamomile also can help a child fall asleep.
- For adults as well, taken at bedtime, it calms nervousness and acts as a
sedative, helping to defeat insomnia.
- Chamomile tea can also be sipped throughout
the day as its relaxing effects do not interfere with activities
such as driving a car or completing a difficult task.
- Chamomile can also help ease muscle pain that results from stress and
Twitching and tics in muscles may respond to chamomile tea or other chamomile
- Mixed with peppermint in an infusion, it is a soothing and relaxing
tea whenever minor illness appears.
- Chamomile is valued as an antimicrobial agent.
A German study found that the herb inactivates bacterial toxins.
You can drink chamomile tea combined with other antimicrobials,
such as thyme, echinacea, and goldenseal, for internal infections.
- Chamomile can be used topically, too, to treat infections and
inflammations and help heal minor wounds.
Chamomile is part of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes ragweed and
chrysanthemum, so people with allergies may react when they use chamomile
either internally or topically.
Chamomile should not be taken during pregnancy or breast-feeding.
Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound with anticoagulant or
It should not be combined with warfarin or other medications or supplements that
have the same effect or be used by people with bleeding disorders.
It shouldn't be used two weeks before or after surgery.
- Tea Recipes
To make a simple serving of chamomile tea,
- steep 1-2 tsp (or up to 1 tablespoon for a stronger tea) of chamomile flowers
per cup of water for 15 minutes.
- Drink 1/2 cup up to five times a day for digestive problems.
- For nervous conditions, combine chamomile with equal parts of passionflower,
skullcap, oats, or hops.
- To brew an all-purpose stomach tea useful for nausea, spastic colon,
irritable bowel, ulcers, and colitis, use the recipe below.
Omit the licorice root if you have high blood pressure. You'll need:
1-2 tsp of each herb per cup of boiling water.
Steep for 15 minutes.
- German chamomile flowers
- Licorice root, shredded
- Fennel seeds
You may give chamomile to teething infants to calm them and reduce gum inflammation.
If a child will not drink chamomile tea from a bottle or take it from a spoon,
soak a cloth in 1/2 cup of strong chamomile tea to which you've added two
drops of clove oil.
Place the cloth in the freezer for 20 minutes, then give to the baby to chomp
- Although the plant contains not a hint of blue, chamomile contains a
potent volatile oil that is a brilliant blue when isolated.
This oil, called azulene (after its dark azure color), has strong
soaked in strong chamomile tea to eczema patches and other inflamed skin
Small children with eczema, bug bites, or diaper rash may take a bath of warm
chamomile and oatmeal:
- Put 4 tablespoons chamomile flowers and 1/2 cup oatmeal in a "knee-high"
stocking, and tie the open end of the stocking with a rubber band.
- Place this herb-filled stocking under the tap as you fill the tub.
- Let your children play in the bath as usual; the chamomile and oats will
decrease their itch significantly.
- Remember to remove the herb-filled stocking before letting the water
down the drain.
Chamomile has a long history of use in Europe for digestive ailments. The active constiuents of chamomile have anti-inflammatory properties, and ease spasm and discomfort in the digestive tract.
So chamomile is good for indigestion, crohn's disease, diarrhea,
irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcer and ulcerative colitis.
- Drinking chamomile tea can also help with canker sores and
gingivitis because of its anti-septic and anti-biotic properties.
- Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Claire Kowalchik and
William H. Hylton, Editors; Rodale Press Inc, 1998.