Dried chamomile flower is an age-old medicinal drug known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Chamomile's popularity grew throughout the Middle Ages, when people turned to it as a remedy for numerous medical complaints including asthma, colic, fevers, inflammations, nausea, nervous complaints, children's ailments, skin diseases and cancer. As a popular remedy, it may be thought of as the European counterpart of ginseng.
Recent and on-going research has identified chamomile's specific anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-allergenic and sedative properties, validating its long-held reputation. This attention appears to have increased the popularity of the herb and nowadays Chamomile is included as a drug in the pharmacopoeia of 26 countries.
Chamomile has been used for centuries in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflammatory, to name only a few therapeutic uses. Extensive scientific research over the past 20 years has confirmed many of the traditional uses for the plant and established pharmacological mechanisms for the plant's therapeutic activity, including antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiallergenic activity.
In addition to medicinal use, chamomile enjoys wide usage, especially in Europe and the U.S., as a refreshing beverage tea and as an ingredient in numerous cosmetic and external preparations. Rob McCaleb, President of the Herb Research Foundation in Boulder, Colorado estimates that over one million cups of Chamomile tea are ingested worldwide each day, making it probably the most widely consumed herb tea.
Although best known as a muscle relaxant and antispasmodic, chamomile is also believed to have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory capabilities. The plant's healing properties come from its daisylike flowers, which contain volatile oils (including bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B, and matricin) as well as flavonoids (particularly a compound called apinegin) and other therapeutic substances. Chamomile may be used internally or externally. As a popular remedy, it may be thought of as the European counterpart of ginseng.
Specifically, chamomile may:
Latin Names: Matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita
Common Names: Bodegold, Camomile, Chamomile, Common chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, Sweet false chamomile, Wild chamomile
Suggested Properties: Anthelmintic, anti-allergenic, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-peptic, anti-pyretic, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, sedative, stomachic
Indicated for: aiding digestion, aiding sleep, allergy relief, asthma, bacterial infections, burns and sunburn, burns (minor), Crohn's disease, colic, colds, conjunctivitis, diverticular disorders, eczema, eye inflammation and infection, facilitate bowel movement, gastritis, gastrointestinal problems, haemorrhoids, heartburn, inflammation, inflammatory bowel conditions, insomnia, irritable bowel problems, lumbago, menstrual cramps, nausea, nervous complaints, peptic ulcers, rashes, relieving morning sickness, restlessness, rheumatic problems, skin ulcers, stress-related flatulence, stress relief, teething problems, ulcerative colitis, wounds
If you suffer from allergies to plants of the Compositae family (a large group including such flowers as daisies, ragweed, asters and chrysanthemums), you may wish to be cautious about using chamomile at first. While there have been isolated reports of allergic reactions, causing skin rashes and bronchial constriction, most people can use this herb with no problem.
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