Chamomile Flowers (Matricaria recutita)
These are the dried flowers you can purchase in bulk or in tea bags in the store. Also known as Matricaria chamomilla or German Chamomile. The names seem to be used interchangeably. Commonly known as chamomile (also spelled camomile), Italian camomilla, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile (kamilla), wild chamomile, Manzanilla, Matricaris, Sweet False Chamomile, Ground apple, Blue Chamomile, or scented mayweed, is an annual plant of the composite family Asteraceae. M. chamomilla is the most popular source of the herbal product chamomile, although other species are also used as chamomile.
German chamomile is used in herbal medicine for a sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It is also used as a mild laxative and is anti-inflammatory and bactericidal. It can be taken as an herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea, which should be steeped for 10 to 15 minutes while covered to avoid evaporation of the volatile oils.
One of the active ingredients of its essential oil is the terpene bisabolol. Other active ingredients include farnesene, chamazulene, flavonoids (including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin and luteolin) and coumarin.
Chamomile, a relative of ragweed, can cause allergy symptoms and can cross-react with ragweed pollen in individuals with ragweed allergies. It also contains coumarin, so care should be taken to avoid potential drug interactions, e.g. with blood thinners. While extremely rare, very large doses of chamomile may cause nausea and vomiting. Even more rarely, rashes may occur. Type-IV allergic reactions (i.e. contact dermatitis) are common and one case of severe Type-I reaction (i.e. anaphylaxis) has been reported in a 38-year-old man who drank chamomile tea.
- Non-heme Iron – Reduced absorption (human study)
- Warfarin – Potentiated (speculative)
- Benzodiazepines and Opiate Withdrawal – Adjuvant to (empirical)
Formulation & Preparation
- Infusion – 2 tsp/cup three to four times daily
- Tincture – 1-4mL (1:5, 40%) three times daily or 7-14mL (1:5, 50%) three times daily
- Oil – 2-3 drops of essential oil in hot water basin for steam inhalation
- Eyewash – 1 cup warm infusion, strained, wash eyes gently
- To encourage a baby to sleep – 1-2 cups strained infusion (tea) in bath water
Healing with Chamomile
- as a tea, be used for lumbago, rheumatic problems and rashes.
- as a salve, be used for hemorrhoids and wounds.
- as a vapor, be used to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma.
- relieve restlessness, teething problems, and colic in children.
- relieve allergies, much as an antihistamine would.
- aid in digestion when taken as a tea after meals.
- relieve morning sickness during pregnancy.
- speed healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or burns.
- treat gastritis and ulcerative colitis.
- reduce inflammation and facilitate bowel movement without acting directly as a purgative.
- be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations, including inflammations of mucous tissue.
- promote general relaxation and relieve stress. Animal studies show that chamomile contains substances that act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system as anti-anxiety drugs. Never stop taking prescription medications, however, without consulting your doctor.
- control insomnia. Chamomile’s mildly sedating, and muscle-relaxing effects may help those who suffer from insomnia to fall asleep more easily.
- Treat diverticular disease, irritable bowel problems and various gastrointestinal complaints. Chamomile’s reported anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions relax the smooth muscles lining the stomach and intestine. The herb may therefore help to relieve nausea, heartburn, and stress-related flatulence. It may also be useful in the treatment of diverticular disorders and inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn’s disease.
- soothe skin rashes (including eczema), minor burns and sunburn. Used as a lotion or added in oil form to a cool bath, chamomile may ease the itching of eczema and other rashes and reduces skin inflammation. It may also speed healing and prevent bacterial infection.
- treat eye inflammation and infection. Cooled chamomile tea can be used in a compress to help soothe tired, irritated eyes and it may even help treat conjunctivitis.
- heal mouth sores and prevent gum disease. A chamomile mouthwash may help soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy.
- reduce menstrual cramps. Chamomile’s believed ability to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus helps ease the discomfort of menstrual cramping.
- Calms Muscle Spasms – One study from England found that drinking chamomile tea raised urine levels of glycine, a compound that calms muscle spasms. Researchers believe this is why chamomile tea could prove to be an effective home remedy for menstrual cramps as well.
- Natural Hemorrhoid Treatment – Chamomile ointment can help to relieve hemorrhoids.
- Fights Cancer – It’s very likely that chamomile tea can help reduce cancerous cells, although research is still ongoing to see exactly how chamomile reverses abnormal cellular growth.
- “Matricaria chamomilla”. Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 15 June 2008.
- “Matricaria recutita”. Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 15 June 2008.