Chamomile

chamomile

Botanical Name: Matricaria recutita (German chamomile), Chamaemelum nobile (Roman) | Family: Compositae

Common name(s): Chamomile, German chamomile, Roman chamomile (a.k.a garden chamomile)

GROWING

  • German chamomile (annual, to 24″), Roman chamomile (perennial, herbaceous, 8-10″) | Zones 4-9 | Full sun / Partial shade | blooms June – frost (white, daisy-like flowers)
  • Likes well-drained soil. Flowers more prolific/potent when grown in less-rich soil.
    Roman variety good for paths (walking over the plant seems specially beneficial to it). Can be grown in a container.

Companions: plant near other plants to help keep them healthy and free of disease

HARVESTING

When flowers are fully open and fragrant, use your fingers as a rake to harvest them. Dry with care at a not-too-high temperature.

PREPARATION / DOSAGE

Infusion: 1 tsp dried or 2 tsp fresh/cup of water | 1 oz dried or 2 oz fresh/quart of water. Steep, covered, 15-20 minutes. Drink 2 – 3 cups daily, or as often as needed. Lasting effects if used over a period of several weeks.

  • For indigestion, drink after meals
  • Use a stronger infusion for a mouth wash

Tincture: 2-4 ml 3x/day

Steam bath: 1/2 cup flowers boiled in 4 pints water. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam.

Combinations: lemon balm and rose petals (nervous system), calendula & fennel seeds (digestive), hops & valerian (relaxing herbal bath).

Food: flowers are edible

Other: Use a strong infusion on growing seedlings to prevent the soil fungal disease called damping off.

MEDICAL

Actions: analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative,  vulnerary

Uses: anxiety, insomnia, indigestion / gas, inflammation (internal and external), sore throat, wound healing

Cautions: some people are allergic to chamomile, discontinue if you get any signs of allergies. Do not use in pregnancy (as it is a uterine stimulant). Wild camomile has single flowers and is too strong (can destroy the linings of the stomach and intestine). Use the cultivated varieties.

KEY CONSTITUENTS

Azulene and other volatile oils, flavonoids, tannins, bitter glycosides, salicylates, coumarins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus

CHINESE MEDICINE***
Bitter, spicy, aromatic, neutral

SOURCES 

  • Homegrown Herbs, Tammi Hartung
  • Medicinal Herbs, Rosemary Gladstar
  • Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman
  • A Modern Herbal, Mrs. M. Grieve
  • ***The Way of Herbs, Michael Tierra
  • Superb Herbs

I used chamomile as part of a digestive tea (with calendula and fennel seed) to help heal from a severe bout of reflux, along with the addition of fermented food and digestive enzymes.

I also use it as a calming tea, when I’m feeling stressed, or a before-bed tea, if I’m having a bout of insomnia.

This year I planted it for the first time but lost track of where. Just the other day I noticed a plant in my garden that looked just like the pictures I’d seen of it. “There you are!” I exclaimed. I plucked some blossoms, including one that was now a seed head. Afterwards, I got a whiff of my hand, which confirmed that it was, indeed the chamomile. It smelled just like my tea!

The picture at the top of this post is that plant, after the harvesting (forgot to take the picture before pulling off most of the flowers, silly me). PS Do you notice what plant is in the background?

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