What Herb is That?
The Mother of all Herbs
CHAMOMILE has been called the Mother herb, due to the way it makes things better. The genus Matricaria is derived from the Latin matrix, meaning "womb," most likely because chamomile is widely used to treat gyneacological complaints as well as children’s ailments.
It was called “ground Apple” by the ancient Greeks because of its smell and it was “maythen” to the Anglo-Saxons, one of the nine sacred herbs given to the world by the God Woden.
Chamomile is one of the most popular, widely known and most widely used of all the herbs. Except for a very small risk of allergy, it is also one of the safest herbs to use.
This herb is mostly used as a tea to treat digestive distresses such as stomach aches, cramps, colitis and flatulence because it contains fairly strong antispasmodic and anti-inflam- matory constituents.
It 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). It is an ideal choice for those with ulcers or other stomach problems aggravated by anxiety.
Muscle pain that results from stress and worry is another indication for chamomile. Twitching and tics in muscles may respond to chamomile tea or other chamomile medications.
Peter Rabbit's mother gave him chamomile tea when he was feeling ill and indeed this soothing herbal remedy does help ease tummy troubles in infants, easing colic and preventing vomiting. It calms irritable babies and restless children; moreover, most children tolerate its taste. It proves useful in cases of earache, neuralgic pain, stomach disorders and infantile convulsions. Chamomile is especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time; it also can help a child fall asleep.
Did You Know?
Chamomile is a great plant companion and plants thrive when it grows in their midst. Even your ailing pot plants will respond positively to a healing chamomile tea used as a liquid feed and plant tonic - effective against several plant diseases.
Chamomile is calming to adults as well and used as a mild sedative for anxiety; it also relieves insomnia and many other nervous conditions.
It can be sipped throughout the day – as its relaxing effects do not interfere with activities such as driving a car or completing difficult tasks, as is the case with prescription sedatives.
Chamomile’s long history as a tranquiliser has a scientific basis; researchers discovered a compound in it called apigenin that binds to the same cell receptors as anti-anxiety drugs such as valium.
Women can use chamomile to ease menstrual cramps and to promote the onset of menstruation.
Chamomile has antibacterial and antifungal properties that can help reduce inflammation when used topically as a wash or compress for skin inflammations, sunburn and burns. It may be added to bath to relax tired, aching muscles and feet, and to soften the skin.
It can also be used as an immune stimulant; inhaling steam from chamomile tea may help relieve congestion.
Chamomile is valued as an antimicrobial agent. A German study found that the herb inactivates bacterial toxins. Small quantities of chamomile oil inhibit staphylococcal and streptococcal strains of bacteria.
You can drink chamomile tea combined with other antimicrobials, such as thyme, echinacea, and goldenseal, for internal infections. You can use chamomile topically, too, to treat infections and inflammations as a fomentation or in salves or as a wash or compress for skin inflammations, sunburn and burns.
An infusion of Chamomile flowers is used as a hair shampoo, especially for fair hair. The flowers are sometimes added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic agent and for their beautifying qualities.
The dried herb is made into potpourri and herb pillows.
Latin name: Matricaria Recutita
Medicinal Action and Uses: Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, carminative, sedative, bitter tonic, immune stimulant, antifungal.
Inhalation: Add 2 tspns of chamomile flowers to a basin of boiling water and inhale under a towel, for catarrh, hay fever, asthma or bronchitis.
Essential Oil of the Month
Calming chamomile takes away the heat
CHAMOMILE oil (especially the blue German) is the first choice to treat inflammation, where it is soothing, calming and balancing.
Skin allergies such as eczema and other rashes respond well to the oil mixed into a base cream or lotion. The gentle action of chamomile treats the hot, red flaky skin condition while simultaneously alleviating the causes of the allergy. It can also be used to calm acne, rashes, wounds and dermatitis.
It is high in (-a)-bisabolol which promotes granulation (healing) and is also a great tissue regenerator.
It is very gentle and restorative in skin-care, especially for fair complexions. For those with reactive skin; it helps reduce redness and evens out skin tone.
Add the oil to hair products, as it brings out natural lights in hair - especially blondes - and also treats dandruff.
Chamomile is very good for cystitis. Hot compresses over the abdomen relieve the hot, burning symptoms and calm the nerves, allaying the exhaustion and anxiety that often accompany cystitis. To calm haemorrhoids or other painful, sensitive tissue of that region, a blend of chamomile and manuka oil, at a 1-2 per cent dilution will be helpful.
Chamomile, as an anti-inflammatory, works internally or externally relieving pain; and is very effective on urinary stones (bladder gravel) and it stimulates the liver and gall bladder; improving digestion.
As massage oil, it is good for abdominal pain, relieves allergies, hay fever, asthma and throat infections. Chamomile is a natural decongestant, improving lymph flow, dispersing fluid retention, countering spasms and knots.
Massage a chamomile oil blend into arthritic or rheumatic joints to reduce inflammation, swelling and ease pain. Such a blend will help painful muscles; relieve headaches when massaged into the scalp and ease earaches when used against the ear with a warm compress.
It provides a simple remedy for common ailments such as ingrown nails, burns, bites and boils; thus is handy in any first-aid box.
Chamomile is wonderful and safe to use for children and infants, helping most of their common ailments such as tummy upsets, crankiness and sleeplessness. For teething pains in infants, add one drop of the pure oil into 5ml of base olive or another cold-pressed vegetable oil and with a clean finger, gently rub this blend into the inflamed gums. This blend will serve well to treat colicky pains, diarrhea and gastric spasms when massaged firmly into the abdomen a clockwise direction. Overall it is calming and comforting.
Tip for Nervous Tension and Anxiety: Put 1 drop of chamomile oil on a tissue and tuck it into a shirt pocket or bra strap, so that the odour rises throughout the day.
Tip for Pre Menstrual Tension: Add 3 drops of chamomile to 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and massage gently into the abdomen and lower back using soft, clockwise circular strokes. Alternatively run a warm bath, add 5 drops of chamomile oil to half a cup of full- cream milk to the water before getting into it. Allow the uplifting scent to ease irritability and stress.
Name: Chamomile Essential oil
Roman: Anthemis nobilis
German: Matricaria chamomilla or recutita
Scent: The Roman chamomile essential oil has a sweet, apple-like fragrance which is bright, crisp, fruity and herbaceous. The German chamomile oil has a sweet, straw-like or grassy fragrance.
Chamomile blends well with: bergamot, clary sage, lavender, geranium, jasmine, tea tree, grapefruit, rose, lemon and ylang-ylang.
Main therapeutic uses: Nerve tonic, sedative, analgesic, (quells pain) antiseptic, anti-allergenic, anti- inflammatory, antispasmodic (reduces cramps), antiviral, digestive, carminative, (calms upset stomach) diuretic, (induces urination) hepatic, (liver tonic).