HERBS TO LIVE BY… Chamomile
COMMON NAME: Chamomile, German Chamomile, Blue Chamomile, Camomilla
LATIN NAME: Matricaria recutita, Matricaria chamomilla
PLANT PART USED: Dried Flowers
ENERGETICS: Cooling, Drying
TASTE: Slightly Sweet, Floral, Fruity (apple-like scent)
The actions of German Chamomile are gentle and slow. However, it’s effects can be expected to be long-lasting when used consistently and in moderation over a lengthy period of time.
PRIMARY ACTIONS: Antioxidant, Antispasmodic, Anxiolytic, Astringent, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Hypnotic, Hypocholestrolemic, Hypoglycemic, Inflammation Modulator, Nervine (Anti-Anxiety & Antidepressant), Nutritive, Sedative (mild), Spasmolytic, Vulnerary
SECONDARY ACTIONS: Anti-Inflammatory, Bitter, Antimicrobial, Nervous System Trophorestorative
Internal Use – Anxiety, Depression, Irritability, Restlessness; Colic, Spastic Constipation, Diarrhea, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Gas/Bloating, GI Cramps, GI Ulcers, Indigestion, Nausea, GERD; Bacterial Infections of the Skin, Burning Mouth Syndrome, Common Cold, Gout, Hay Fever, Menstrual Disorders, Migraines (non aura), Neuralgia, Muscle Spasms, Nerve Pain, Rheumatic Pain, Sciatica
Topical Use – Bacterial Infections of the Oral Cavity & Gums, Boils/Carbuncles, Skin Irritation and Inflammation, Blocked Tear Ducts, Bruises, Burns, Canker Sores, Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), Diaper Rash, Ear & Eye Infections, Eczema, Eye Irritations, Hemorrhoids, Mastitis, Menstrual Pain, Nasal Inflammation, Poison Ivy, Teething, Wounds
ABOUT: Chamomile is perhaps the most popular herbs used medicinally in the world today. It is native to southern and eastern Europe. In ancient history Chamomile was a medicinal used by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. It’s medicinal use dates back at least 5,000 years.
Modern science is only beginning to uncover the mechanisms of German Chamomile but have found it beneficial for such conditions as migraines (without aura), burning mouth syndrome (which worsens under stress), enhance overall sleep quality (although not proven to help insomnia to date), and General Anxiety Disorder in long-term studies. However, this did not appear to reduce the rate of relapse when Chamomile was removed. It is likely that the studies were too short only being 12 or 26 weeks. Chamomile also appears to be antidepressant as well as beneficial in mitigating anxiety.
Studies investigating the role of Chamomile in dysmenorrhea and in the reduction of menstrual bleeding have found that oral Chamomile was more effective than NSAIDs as a pain-reliever and had a positive effect at reducing blood flow.
The chemical chamazulene has demonstrated an ability to significantly reverse the inflammation that accompanies osteoarthritis.
Chamomile also may be helpful in helping with obesity and metabolic syndrome. It improves insulin sensitivity and reduces glucose intolerance. The polyphenols in Chamomile appear to be effective at protecting against oxidative stress-related diseases such as metabolic syndrome (diabetes II) and obesity. These antioxidants appear to transfer into the plants essential oils as well. Certain studies have found Chamomile to be inhibitive to the digestion of carbohydrates and absorption of glucose in the intestines. Additionally, it demonstrates hypoglycemic and hypocholesterolemic actions.
This statement written into one study on obesity and metabolic syndrome is very revealing about the synergistic nature of plants remedials versus isolated components.
Oral = Tincture, 2-5 dropperfuls/ml (20 drops/ml), three times per day
Infusion = 1 Tbsp./C, two to four times per day
Topical = Baths, washes, infused oil, diluted essential oil; as needed
CONTRAINDICATIONS: Generally, people tolerate chamomile well when consumed in moderation. It is not advised to take high doses during the first trimester of pregnancy. Sensitivity may occur in those allergic to plants in the Asteraceae family such as daisies, chrysanthemums, marigold, or ragweed.
Although uncommon, side-effects have been known to include allergic reactions such as skin irritation, itching, rash, redness or swelling when applied topically (rarely anaphylaxis), nausea and dizziness.
Chamomile has potential to interact with certain drugs (especially when over-consumed) such as the blood thinner Warfarin, NSAIDs, Naproxen, antiplatelet medications, and Cyclosporine used in transplant patients to prevent rejection of the organ. Check with your physician to rule out the possibility of drug-herb interactions.
One final thought. While the mechanisms are not understood by science, it has verified that Mexican American women who use Chamomile have a reduction in all cause mortality. Science continues to search for the pathways that explain this occurrence. However, it does not surprise me in the least that an unassuming herb with the power to reduce anxiety and relieve depression in this stress-filled world would humbly and quietly boost longevity in those who esteem its simplicity. May I offer you some Chamomile?