Calming Chamomile

Calming Chamomile

Disclaimer: This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for modern medical care. Do not self-treat any medical complaint without the guidance of a licensed health care provider.

      An essential natural first-aid remedy in home health care, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) has been one of the most popular medicinal plants for centuries. Of the two major forms of the herb - German and Roman - German chamomile is the one most often used in the U.S.
      Chamomile has a long-standing reputation as being good for almost anything that might ail a body. Millions of children have learned about one of its most widespread uses, treating indigestion due to dietary indiscretion, from Beatrice Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
      Another traditional use has been as a mild sleep aid. In one study, it was effective in helping 80% of the patients awaiting cardiac catheterization get to sleep. It is also used as a gentle treatment for fevers.
      People with colds sometimes breathe in the vapors from a steaming cup of chamomile tea. This pleasantly aromatic steam is believed to help relieve congestion of the nose and lungs, at least for a short time unless you develop allergies or other symptoms.

Plant Facts
      Chamomile is a member of the daisy family, has thin, tapering roots and can grow up to 20 inches tall. This annual plant exudes a distinctive, strongly aromatic scent, and the flower has a slightly bitter taste.

      Native to the Near East and to southern and eastern Europe, chamomile today grows throughout Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa and North and South America. The yellow-and-white flower is a common sight in meadows, alpine valleys, vacant lots and home gardens (including mine!)

Parts Used
      Only the flower heads are used for tea. The flowering tops (the flower plus 2-3 inches of stem) are used medicinally.

      Chamomile contains a volatile oil consisting of chamazulene and bisaboloids. German chamomile flowers contain about 0.5 % of the light blue volatile oil. The most important constituents of the oil are bisabolol and related compounds and antispasmodic. Bisabolol has significant antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory activity. Up to half of the oil is chamazulene, formed from matricin during heating. Other ingredients include flavonoids (which have antispasmodic actions), mucilage (a gelatinous substance), bitters, coumarins, choline, sulfur and calcium.
      Flavonoids in the flowers, apigenin and luteolin, are also active. In addition, the coumarins herniarin and umbelliferone may also quell inflammation and quiet smooth muscle spasms. No single ingredient has been identified as responsible for the benefits of chamomile.
      Roman chamomile flowers contain from 0.5 to 2.5% essential oil, which does not contain bisabolol. The flavonoid ingredients are similar, though not identical, to those of German chamomile.

      Chamomile is valued for its calming, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and gas-relieving properties. Internally, it relieves flatulence, stomachaches, intestinal cramps and menstrual pains and promotes the healing of peptic ulcers.
      In addition, chamomile helps combat insomnia, as well as allay nerve pain, such as that caused by facial neuralgia. Applied it nourishes the skin.

Methods of Administration

      Pour 1 cup of hot water over 2 tsp. of dried flowers. Cover the cup to retain the volatile oil. Steep for 10 min., strain. Sip 2-3 cups of the tea every day. Chamomile tea can also be used as a gargle.
      During the hot summer months, when you may not want to drink a warm beverage, opt for chamomile ice cubes. Prepare the tea as usual, and freeze the liquid in ice-cube trays. These chamomile ice cubes will not only relieve stomach discomfort, but will cool you down.

      Mix 1¾ oz. of dried and crushed flowers with 1 pt. of olive oil. Expose it to the sun for 10 days, then filter. Store the mixture in a dark bottle. Rub it on the skin or lips to relieve chapping.

      This alcoholic extract has potent healing properties. Ready-made tinctures are available in health food stores and can be used in hot compresses, baths and aromatherapy. For directions on how to make your own tincture, see Herbal How-To.

      Crush dry chamomile flowers finely in a mortar. Take a scant 1 tsp. of the powder 3 times a day with meals.

      Let 1¾ oz. of dried, crushed flowers steep in 1 qt. of dry white wine for 10 days; strain. Drink a small glass each day as a digestive aid.

Special Precautions

      Chamomile should not be used to wash out the eyes or the area immediately around the eyes.
Adverse Effects
      Ingesting large amounts of dried chamomile flowers can cause vomiting.

Healing Teas and Tinctures

Food Reaction Tincture

      Combine ingredients. Take half a dropperful an hour before each meal. You could also use these same proportions to make a tea, although gentian is extremely bitter.
      This tincture works not only to stop the inflammation and the allergic reaction, but also to improve digestion and reduce allergic responses in general. Chamomile does this even after the offending food has been eaten.

Heartburn Formula

      Combine herbs and pour very hot water over them. Steep for at least 15 min., then strain out herbs and add juice. Drink 1 cup after each meal. Stored in the refrigerator, this formula will keep for a few days.

Ulcer Tea

      Put herbs and water in an uncovered saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Strain herbs and store the tea in the refrigerator. Drink 2 or more cups a day.

Gallbladder Formula

      Combine roots and water and simmer for about 15 min. Turn off heat, add remaining herbs and steep for about 20 min. Strain herbs. Drink at least 1 cup daily. This formula can also be used to make a tincture or pills.

Menstrual Cramp Tea

      Combine the herbs and water in an uncovered saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover pan and let mixture steep for 20 min. Strain out herbs. Drink at least 1 cup to start, then drink freely, as needed.

Menstrual Cramp Oil

      Combine ingredients. Apply as often as needed by rubbing over the lower abdomen. This formula is also excellent for lower back or shoulder pain, or any type of muscle cramps, even when you are not menstruating.

Immune Booster Tea

      Boil water and pour it over the herbs. Steep for 15 min., then strain out herbs. At first signs of illness, give 1 cup daily for every 50 pounds of body weight.

Allergy Tea

      Combine water and echinacea and marshmallow roots in a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and add remaining ingredients. Steep for 15 min., then strain out herbs.

Intestinal Parasite Tea

      Combine herbs and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and steep for at least 30 min., strain out herbs. For a 50 pound child, give at least 1 cup per day til parasites are gone.

Peter Rabbit’s Tea

      Pour boiling water over herbs and steep for 10 min., strain out herbs and allow to cool. Have your ailing child sip this tea as needed. Sometimes as little as ¼ cup spells relief.

Magickal Information

Folk Names: Camomyle, Chamainelon, Ground Apple, Heermannchen (German), Manzanilla (Spanish), Maythen, Whig Plant
Gender: Masculine
Planet: Sun
Element: Water
Powers: Money, Sleep, Love, Purification
Magickal Uses:

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      All information provided in this article is the result of research using (but not limited to) the following books and guides: Herbs for Health and Healing, Rodale; Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Scott Cunningham; Magical Herbalism, Scott Cunningham; The Complete Guide to Natural Healing, International Masters Publishers; Earthway, Mary Summer Rain; Teach Yourself Herbs, Susie White; Natural Beauty from the Garden, Janice Cox; Nature's Prescriptions, Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, and The People's Pharmacy Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies, Joe Graedon and Theresa Graedon, Ph.D