|Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
An essential natural first aid remedy in home health care, chamomile 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 United States.
Plant Facts: Chamomile, a member of the Daisy family, has thin, tapering roots and can grow upto 20 inches tall. This annual plant exudes a distinctive, strongly aromatic scent, and the flower has a slightly bitter taste.
Origin : 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.
Parts Used : Only the flower heads are used for tea. The flowering tops (the flower plus 2-3 inches of the stem) are used medicinally.
Components : chamomile contains a volatile oil consisting of chamazulene and bisaboloids. Other ingredients include flavonoids(which have antispasmodic actions), mucilage( a gelatinous substance), bitters, coumarins, choline, sulfur and calcium.
Indications : Chamomile is valued for its calming, anti inflammatory, antispasmodic and gas relieving properties. Internally, it relieves flatulence, stomach aches, 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 meuralgia. Applied externally, as a compress or oil, it nourishes the skin.
Extra Tip : During hot summer months, when you may not want tp drink a warm beverage, opt for chamomile ice cubes. Prepare 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.
Methods of Administration :
Tea : 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 everyday. Chamomile tea can also be used as a gargle.
Oil : Mix 13/4 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.
Tincture : 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.
Powder : Crush dry chamomile flowers finely in a mortar. Take a scant 1 tsp. of the powder 3 times a day with meals.
Homeopathy : The homeopathic remedy, called Chamomile, can be used to treat acute pain. Try 12x or 30c strength.
Wine : Let 13/4 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.