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Chamomile

  • Anthemis nobilis L. (Roman)
  • Chamomilla recutita L. Rauschert
  • Matricaria chamomilla (German)
  • Matricaria recutita
  • Compositae
  • Composite family



Common Names

Anthemis nobilis:
herbsGarden chamomile
herbsGround apple
herbsLow chamomile
herbsRoman chamomile
herbsTrue chamomile
herbsWhig plant
Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
herbsFalse chamomile
herbsGerman chamomile
herbsHungarian chamomile
herbsRauschert
herbsWild chamomile


Parts Usually Used

Anthemis nobilis:
Dried flowers usually, various parts

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Flowers


Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Anthemis nobilis:

The true chamomile, named by Linnaeus but to differentiate from the German plant, he named the German plant Chamomilla.

From a short root, this creeping chamomile, a nearly prostrate perennial, puts forth a stem to 3-12 inches tall, from which bi- to tripinnatipartite lacy leaves grow. The small flower heads, which grow singly at the ends of the shoot tips, consist of a corona of white ligulate, daisy-like flowers and many (up to 400) yellow tubular disk flowers at the center. Blooms in late spring through late summer. The fruits (seeds) are extremely tiny. There are other species called chamomile. Cases of mistaken identity may result in allergic reactions to the application of chamomile. Consequently, buy chamomile in a pharmacy or health food store.

Growing chamomile in the garden or in bowls or pots on the balcony or patio is rewarding. Once the chamomile culture is established, no tending is necessary. The seeds cast by this annual will produce plenty of new plants each year. However, chamomile does need humus, nutritious soil that is not too heavy and plenty of sun. If there is no rainfall for a prolonged period, the plants will need watering.

Chamomile seeds are sold in every seed store. Sow them in spring in well-prepared (loosened) soil, which has to be kept damp at first. Because chamomile germinates in the light, broadcast the seeds and press them down very lightly.

Harvest the flower heads as soon as they have opened, taking as little of the stalk as possible. The entire herb is strongly apple scented.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:

Smooth, apple-scented, erect annual; 6-36 inches. Linear leaves are finely divided; somewhat more coarse and less scented than A. nobilis. Flowers daisy-like, 3/4 inch across; receptacle hollow within. Flowers May to October.

Other varieties: Mayweed and others of the genus Anthemis, are commonly classified as weeds and are not cultivated as a rule; Yellow or Ox-eye camomile (A. tinctoria) which is a wild plant; Corn camomile (A. arvensis) a wild plant; A. cotula and M. inodora are wild camomiles, both of which are known as Mayweeds; A. treneagne does not bloom; A. plena has double white blooms.


Where Found

Anthemis nobilis:
An old well-known home remedy that grows freely everywhere. Chamomile is an undemanding plant that grows in fields and landfills, on fallow land, and along roadsides, embankments, and field boundaries. Native to the British Isles, western Europe, North Africa and the Azores.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Found in much of the United States, locally abundant. Native to Europe and Asia


Medicinal Properties

Anthemis nobilis:
Stimulant, bitter tonic, aromatic, emmenagogue (promotes menstrual flow), anodyne, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, carminative, nervine, analgesic, emetic, stomachic.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Calmative, antispasmodic, anodyne, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, carminative, nervine


Biochemical Information

Anthemis nobilis:
Antheme, anthemic acid, anthesterol, apigenin, calcium, chamazulene, iron, magnesium, manganese, volatile oils, potassium, tannic acid, tiglic acid, and vitamin A. The essential oil contains up to 50% alpha-bisacolol as well as chamazulene, a blue substance.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Essential oil comprised of a blue-colored azulene, also coumarin, flavonic heterosides, tannic acid


Legends, Myths and Stories

Chamomile is an herb with a split personality, chiefly because it is really 2 plants, though most people think of it as a single plant. The trouble is that German camomile (A. nobilis) and Roman camomile (M. recutita) or (M. chamomilla) or (C. recutita) are 2 distinct plants with similar characteristics, but people familiar with one tend to think of it as the only chamomile. Sometimes they are simply ignorant of the other plant; other times they are aware of it but choose to ignore it; and still other times they resort to the ploy of denigrating the other plant, attempting to disprove its legitimacy as a chamomile.

The chamomiles are best known for their apple-like fragrance and flavor, qualities which surprise the uninitiated, for none of the chamomiles have any visual resemblance to an apple or apple tree. The name, chamomile is derived from the Greek "kamai" meaning "on the ground" and melon (apple) for ground apple. The chamomiles are considered insect repellents.

Anthemis nobilis:
Chamomile was supposedly dedicated to the sun by the Egyptians because of its curative value in the treatment of ague (chills and fever).

Throughout the Middle Ages, it was so popular that Culpeper didn't even describe the plant. In Spain the chamomiles were called Manzanilla, and the flowers were used to flavor the finest dry sherries.

Back when ladies came down with the "vapors", a cup of chamomile tea was often prescribed to relieve the female anxiety.

Europeans have used chamomile medicinally since the 1600s.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
This chamomile is one of the oldest of herbal remedies, which is often noted as a valuable aromatic bitter, thus a tonic.

Chamomile matricaria is consecrated to St. Anne, mother of the Virgin. The botanical name, Matricaria, is from mater and cara---(beloved mother).

Correct spelling: both Chamomile and Camomile are correct.


Uses

Anthemis nobilis:
A good nerve tonic helping to relax, sleep aid, appetite stimulant, colic, sciatica, gout, flu, nausea, and digestive aid. Relieves bladder, colds, asthma, colitis, toothache, fever, headaches, hemorrhoids, muscle cramps, and pain. Effective in the treatment of rheumatism, worms, gallstones, and jaundice. Chamomile is also used to make a soothing and sedative tea, which may be used to alleviate insomnia.

An excellent general tonic that increases the appetite and is good for dyspepsia. Good to regulate monthly periods and relieve menstrual cramps. Splendid for kidneys, spleen, colds, bronchitis, bladder trouble.

The tea makes an excellent wash for sore and weak eyes and also for swellings. Intermittent fever and typhoid fever can be broken up in the early stages with this herb. Good in hysteria and nervous diseases. Made and used as a poultice, it will prevent gangrene. Combine with bittersweet as an ointment for bruises, sprains, calluses, or corns.

A cup of chamomile tea is a perfect nightcap.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Treats diarrhea, sleep aid, sciatica, gout, flu, and digestive aid. Relieves colds, asthma, fever, colic, gallstones, headaches, muscle cramps, tonic, increase appetite, spasms, constipation, and pain. Effective in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis. Flowers were a folk remedy for cancer.

Leaves and flowers are good for herbal baths and cosmetics; a rinse made from the leaves is used to brighten blond hair.


Formulas or Dosages

A pinch of ground ginger added to chamomile tea is a favorite domestic remedy for loss of appetite or distaste for food. Herbalists say that children may be given the warm tea in teaspoonful doses.

Never boil chamomile flowers; always keep infusion covered when steeping. Drink tea in small doses. Either chamomile may be used as a rinse for blond hair. Use 3 or 4 tbsp. of dried flowers to 1 pint of water. Boil from 20 to 30 minutes; strain and cool. Shampoo hair and apply as a rinse (hair should be free of all oil). Apply rinse by pouring over the hair; dip a brush in the rinse collected in a basin, and work into the hair by parting the hair and brushing. Rinse may be poured over the hair several times and brushing repeated. Dry the hair the usual way. In restaurants, chamomile tea is usually available instead of regular tea, which contains caffeine.

Anthemis nobilis:
Infusion: 1/2 oz. of the blossoms to 1 pint of boiling water, cover and steep for 10 minutes. May steep in a jar, if so pour off into another jar or jug; sweeten with sugar or honey. Soothing sedative, absolutely harmless effect. Add a little grated ginger to aged persons a couple of hours before dinner.

Decoction: take 2 oz. of flowers and 1 oz. fennel seeds; pour over them 4 pints of boiling water; let steep covered; strain.

Tea: take 3 tbsp. flowers, 2 tsp. Coriander seeds, add 1 quart boiling water, and allow to stand over night. A wineglassful is to be taken 1/2 hour before dinner to increase appetite.

Externally: rub extract on skin irritation as needed. Put in bath water to relieve hemorrhoids.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:

Infusion: steep 1 tbsp. in a covered cup of boiling water with 2 slices of fresh ginger. Very effective treatment for menstrual cramps, other pains or spasms, minor digestive problems, such as acid indigestion and gas. Tincture: 10-30 drops.


Nutrient Content

Contains easily assimilable form of calcium.


How Sold

Anthemis nobilis:
Capsules (take one capsule twice daily).

Extract: mix 10 to 20 drops in water, take up to 3 times per day.

Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Prepared tea (1 cup daily)


Warning

Any of the varieties:
Chamomile is a member of the daisy family, and anyone allergic to other members of the daisy family, including ragweed, should steer clear of this herb. If unsure, consult your doctor or allergist.

Ragweed allergy sufferers may react to Chamomile, too.

Do not use for long periods of time. Do not use if allergic to ragweed.

Do not use the essential oil during pregnancy because it is a uterine stimulant.

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