CHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla)
Six species in the genus Matricaria are known. “In many herb guides, German chamomile is designated Matricaria chamomilla or Matricaria recutita, causing some confusion.” There are four chemical types of German chamomile. The key differentiators are – chemotypes (constituents in their essential oils).
Habitat & Cultivation: Purported to originate from southeastern Europe. Today, a widely grown plant across North America and Europe. Sun loving, self-sown perennial that can be grown from seeds, root division or cuttings.
Constituents: Flavanoids (rutin), Bitter glycosides (anthemic acid), Tannins, Coumarins, Volatile oil (proazulenes - on steam distillation produces chamazulene, which is an anti-allergic chemical compound), farnesine, alpha-bisabolol, spiroether - a strong antispasmodic, Valerianic acid, Salicylates, Cyanogenic glycosides
Actions: Calming, Soothing, Anti-Inflammatory, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Antifungal, Antibacterial, Antiallergenic, Relaxant, Carminative, Digestive aid
Aerial parts (flowers, fresh/dry)
Traditional Uses: Infused Oil, Ointment, Lotion, Cream, Bath, Tincture, Infusion (Tea)
Preparation & Applications:
Bites & Stings: To ease inflammation, irritation and itching add 5 drops of both Lavender and German Chamomile essential oil into 1tsp of John’s Wort Oil or Calendula Oil. Apply as needed. Avoid Chamomile while pregnant!
Congestion: Poor diet, allergy and/or poor air quality can lead to sinus (the air-filled cavities in the bones around the nose) congestion or inflammation. A steam inhalation helps to release the pressure and mucus. Infuse 15g of Chamomile into 3 cups of water. To intensify the effect, add 5-10 drops of Chamomile essential oil. Repeat the process 2x/day until phlegm is greatly reduced and breathing is not so difficult.
Colic: Internal spasm in the gut causing discomfort and pain. The spasms usually appear in the first three months of baby’s life. Making an infusion (tea), helps to ease the pain. Combine 1 tsp with ¾ cup (150 ml) of water, let it cool and serve. Do not exceed dosage of 1 2/3 cups (450 ml)/day.
Eczema: Symptoms such as red inflamed skin, scaling, flaking, and/or tiny blisters may be the result(s) of eczema or an allergic reaction to certain elements. To reduce itching, make an infusion by combining 50g of dry or infused herb with 3 cups (750ml) of water. Let it cool and apply it directly onto the effected skin with a cotton swap. Another option to sooth and calm the inflamed skin is to prepare an herb bath by adding a hot infusion, mentioned previously, into a warm bath and soak in it for at least 20 minutes.
Indigestion & Abdominal Pain: Poor or inappropriate diet may lead to production of acid. Preparing an infusion and drinking 3 cups/day will help to ease discomfort.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Dilute 1tsp of tincture in ½ (100 ml) cup of water 3x/day.
Irritable & Overtired Children: Make infusion by combining 4 tsp of dried herb in 2 cups (500 ml) of water and strain it into a bath.
Insomnia: Difficulty sleeping is a problem for many. Sedative herbs with relaxing effects are gentle, and promote a good night sleep. Combinations of herbs such as German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita), Linden (Tilia spp.), Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), and/or Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) can bring the desired effect gently. Make an infusion by combining 1-2 tsp of dry herb with ¾ cups (150 ml) of water. Drink the infusion just prior to bedtime. The infusion can also be drank during the night.
Mild asthma: Substances such as dust, pollen, certain foods, fungus, or animal hair can trigger mild asthma. It should be noted that, in this case, herbal remedies should be taken alongside conventional treatment, and it is suggested to seek a trained herbalist to treat immediate symptoms with herbs. To make an infusion, combine 2 tsp of Chamomile with ¾ cup (150 ml) of water, let the mixture stand for 10 minutes in a saucepan. First, inhale the steam, and secondly, strain the mixture and drink it.
Morning Sickness & Nausea: There are many causes of morning sickness, ranging from hormone fluctuations/pregnancy, low blood pressure, food allergies, low sugar levels, to poor diet or stress. Make an infusion in a covered container and sip small quantities throughout the day. Do not exceed 3 cups (750 ml)/day.
Another option is adding ½-1 tsp of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) into the initial infusion. Do not exceed 1 2/3 cups (450 ml)/day. Another option is adding ½-1 tsp of Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) into the initial infusion. Do not exceed 1 2/3 cups (450 ml)/day.
Sore & Tired eyes: Not solely focusing on eyes, but rather choosing herbal remedies that might positively affect and heal mucous tissues lining the eyes can reduce the irritation, and reduce any potential infection.
Sore Nipples: Create a compress by infusing 50g of herb in 1 cup (250 ml) of water. Place gently, and as often, over on the nipples as needed.
Stomach Spasm: Poor digestion, nervous tension, infection or food poisoning can cause stomachache, which can lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea. Relaxing and carminative herbs can relieve stomach spasms and ease the irritation. To make an infusion - Mix 3 parts of relaxing herb (see list below) with 1 part of carminative herb (see list below). Drink up to 3 cups (750 ml)/day.
Relaxing Herbs: German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita), Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis), Cramp Bark (Viburnum opulus)
Carminative Herbs: Anise (Pimpinella anisum) – use seeds, Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) – use seeds, Mint (Metha spp.) – use leaves, Angelica (Angelica archangelica) – use root
Research: Commercial producers of chamomile are able to identify different constituents (chemical groups) of the plant, which leads to a ‘selective breeding’ of herb(s), which leads to a higher quality, greater stability and overall higher level of active constituents.
Two trials held by German scientist showed the plant’s effectiveness in easing infantile colic (in 1993), and its ability to heal wounds (in 1987).
An Iranian clinical trial tested herb’s ability to relief PMS (Post Menstrual Syndrome) by comparing chamomile with mefenamic acid. Both were found very effective in treating PMS; however, chamomile also proven to be a great emotional relaxant.
The German health authorities recognized the effectiveness of the plant while taken internally for treating gastrointestinal spasms and internal inflammation.
Credits: Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine (Andrew Chevallier), The Complete Medicinal Herbal (Penelope Ody), Healing Remedies (C. Norman Shealy), National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs (Rebecca L. Johnson & Steven Foster, Tieraona Low Dog & David Kiefer), University of Maryland Medical Center
- Tags: abdominal pain antibacterial antiseptic balm bites and stings calming chamomile colic congestion eczema healing herbs herbal bath herbal remedies indigestion infused oil insomnia Matricaria Chamomilla Matricaria recutita mild asthma morning sickness & nausea ointment relaxant research soothing sore & inflamed skin sore & tired eyes sore nipples stomach spasm
- Jana Glanzer