Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Many different plants are known as chamomile, but not all belong to the same family. While the English or Roman variants (Chamaemelum nobile) is a different species of plant, it shares many of the same actions and even resembles the true version, which is also known as German C. Some small growing plants are grown in place of lawns.
Key Medicinal Uses
Internally Chamomile tea soothes stomach ache, menstrual cramps and sleep disorders. It relieves cramping of the bowels and excessive gas. It is calming to the nerves and has been used to treat worry and anxiety. It is safe for babies and children. While it can aid sleep, it will not make you drowsy even if you sip at it all day long. It relieves muscle pain that is due to stress, as well as twitching and tics. It is antimicrobial. Small quantities of the oil can inhibit the growth of staphylococcal and streptococcal bacteria.
Externally Chamomile tea can be given to teething infants to soothe irritated and inflamed gums. If baby doesn't want to drink it, soak a cloth in it then freeze it for 20 minutes before giving it to the baby to chew on. Herbal tea or diluted essential oil can be applied to skin infections. Bathing in water to which the tea has been added can help eczema, insect bites and diaper rash. A wash of herbal tea can be used for sunburn, burns, and other skin inflammations. Soaking the feet in the tea can soothe tired and aching muscles. It also softens the skin.
Other Uses Chamomile infusion can be used in shampoo, especially for light colored hair. The flowers are also added to some cosmetics or added to salve for hemorrhoids. Dried flowers may be added to pot pourri and herb pillows. It is also used in aromatherapy. It can also be used to fertilize other plants. The dried flowers can act as an insect repellent.
Herbs to Combine/Supplement
For nervous conditions, mix chamomile with equal portions of skullcap, oats or hops and passionflower and make it into a tea. For an all-purpose stomach remedy, add the herb to fennel seeds, peppermint and licorice root (omit this if you have high blood pressure) and make a tea. For internal infections, blend with goldenseal, Echinacea and thyme.
Flowers The flowering tops are used medicinally.
While most people have no problems with chamomile, if you are allergic to ragweed, you may exhibit allergy symptoms when you take it. Side effects may include skin rash, throat swelling, shortness of breath and anaphylaxis in extreme cases.
Preparation and Dosage
Chamomile tea is the most common method of taking this herb. To make a cup of tea, add 1 tablespoon of flowers to a cup of boiling water. Let it steep for 15 minutes. Strain the tea and drink ½ cup up to 5 times per day to relieve digestive problems. If you prefer a tincture, take ½ to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times per day.