chamomile – from Greek roots, meaning “earth apple”
(Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional; this article is purely for informational purposes.)
So familiar is this remedy, most of us know that a hot cup of chamomile tea is soothing and medicinal even if we don’t drink tea. The most common types, Roman and German chamomile, have both been used for thousands of years throughout Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.
German chamomile has been used as a digestive aid as far back as first century CE. The Romans flavored their drinks with it and burned it as incense. The Greeks used it to treat fevers and female disorders. It was sacred to the Egyptians as a powerful medicinal herb and also used cosmetically on the skin. To many cultures, chamomile possessed the mystical power of soothing an unruly nature and warding off evil spirits; it was a common ingredient in potions to attract love and prosperity, particular in the Middle Ages.
To this day people still employ the fragrant apple-scented, daisy-like plant to treat a plethora of ailments, including indigestion, fever, pain, and anxiety.
PROPERTIES OF CHAMOMILE
- Stomachic (soothes stomach)
- Mild sedative and analgesic
- Muscle relaxant
- Calming and anti-stress
- Anti-bacterial & anti-septic
ACHES & PAINS
- Digestion issues, such as:
- Nausea & Vomiting
- Upset stomach
- Abdominal swelling
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- PMS symptoms and menstrual cramping
- Gum inflammation
Chamomile, though not conclusively established in human studies, is often held for its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties making it useful for alleviating stomach intestinal cramping and irritation (Srivastava). This also makes is great for PMS symptoms. For toothaches, it can soothe swelled gums and its purported anti-septic qualities may help combat infection in the mouth as well. Its ability to release tension aids in soothing bodily discomfort in general and promotes healing.
- Sore throats
- Common cold
- Cardiovascular disease
Again, chamomile’s anti-microbial and anti-septic properties have not been conclusively established, nor is it known whether it acts on infections by direct assault or simply boosting the human immune system (Srivastava). Nevertheless, it is used to treat a variety of illnesses. It has even been linked with benefits for cardiovascular health (Gould).
- Minor burns
Chamomile is a common ingredient in skin soothing oinments and salves and it is also used as an anti-septic and to promote healing in wounds and skin irritations of various kinds. Its mildness makes it a particularly popular component of baby creams.
- Insomnia and Sleeplessness
Chamomile is almost universally used for its calming effects which can soothe a number of aliments related to anxiety including sleeplessness, stomach issues, and stress related pain. And, unlike heavier sleeping drugs, it does not unduly impair concentration required for focused activities. Chamomile’s quieting ability creates a feeling of well-being and a peaceful mood.
- Do not take if pregnant!
- Because chamomile can cause mild uterine contractions, pregnant women should never take it for fear of miscarriage.
- Can interact with other medications
- It can interact with other supplements and medications, and it is therefore always advisable to take it under the supervision of a healthcare professional to be sure.
- Sedatives: It has a tendency to make sedatives stronger, such as barbituates, insomnia medication, anti-seizure medication, etc.
- Blood thinning medications: it may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with blood thinners,
- High blood pressure medication: it may lower blood pressure too far when taken with meds for high blood pressure.
- Diabetic medications: it may lower blood sugar too low when taken in combination with other medications designed to lower blood sugar as well.
- May worsen asthma
- People with an asthmatic condition should avoid it.
- People allergic to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums and ragweed are often also allergic to chamomile.
- Be aware of its sleep inducing effects if you will be driving and/or operating machinery.
- Increased risk of bleeding during surgery
- It has been advised to stop taking doses of chamomile about 2 weeks before dental or other surgery.
HOW YOU CAN USE IT
- For young children under five, the advice for internal consumption is not more than half a cup of chamomile tea per day. Your doctor may recommend alternative amounts.
- Adults are generally recommended about 3-4 cups of tea per day.
- Capsule form
- Adults can try roughly 300-400mg taken 3 times a day or as directed on the bottle.
- Adults may try 30-60 drops of tincture (1 part to 5) in hot water 3 times a day.
- Gargle or mouthwash
- Try 10-15 drops of German chamomile liquid extract to 100 mL of warm water.
- You can try adding a few drops of essential oil to hot water for a soothing steam.
- Add ¼ dried flowers or 5-10 drops of essential oil to the bathwater.
- This is made from ground herbs and warm water and applied to affected area for soothing relief.
- Infused Oil
- Place dried chamomile flowers in a glass jar and fill jar with natural oil (such as almond, olive, or grapeseed) until the dried blossoms are all covered. Seal with a lid and set the jar in the sun for about a month. At the end of the month, strain the dried flowers from the oil.
- NOTE: you can also make infused oils much more quickly using a double-boiler method.
- Creams and cosmetic products
- There are a myriad of chamomile containing cosmetic products available, as I’m sure you’ve seen. There are also a great number of recipes for homemade lotions and the like which can utilize chamomile (or other herbs and essential oils of your choice). Adding a few drops of essential oil or infused oil to a base cream is one way you can make custom chamomile lotion.
As you can see, there are many creative ways to incorporate chamomile into your cosmetic, dietary and therapeutic activities. If nothing else, it is a very pleasantly subtle addition to your regimen.
“Chamomile.” MedicinalHerbInfo .org. Accessed July 18, 2016. http://medicinalherbinfo.org/herbs/Chamomile.html
“Herbs: Chamomile.” NaturalRemedies.org. Accessed August 12, 2016. http://www.naturalremedies.org/chamomile/
“German chamomile.” Medical Reference Guide: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Guide. University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed August 12, 2016. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/german-chamomile
Gould L, Reddy CV, Gomprecht RF. “Cardiac effects of chamomile tea.” Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 1973 Nov-Dec; 13(11):475-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4490671/
Srivastava, Janmejai K, Eswar Shankar, & Sanjay Gupta. “Chamomile: An Herbal Medicine With a Bright Future.” Molecular Medicine Report. 2010 Nov 1; 3(6): 895–901. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/