Chamomile: The Plant's (and Peoples) Physician

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Chamaemelum nobile, or Anthemis nobilis, is a plant in the Asteraceae family commonly known as Chamomile, Roman chamomile, English chamomile, garden chamomile or low chamomile.

This article is only referring to this one species of Chamomile. There is also Chamomilla recutita, a German/Hungarian variety that is sometimes also known as Single chamomile or True chamomile, and is also harvested for its essential oils and medicinal properties. German Chamomile is native to Europe and northwest Asia, where it still grows in the wild, and is the most widely available for medicinal use. While biochemically distinct from the other variety, the two are used somewhat interchangeably and have the same core healing properties as described below. The only differences are that the German counterpart is a bit sweeter in taste, and is a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent due to the presence of a compound called Azulene. Chamomile, or Roman Chamomile, the variety this article is really about, is much more calming and better in stimulating and increasing menstrual flow.

Native to western Europe and northern Africa, Chamomile is now cultivated worldwide in temperate regions or in greenhouses. It is a very sweetly aromatic perennial that grows anywhere from 8” to about two feet in height, with feathery leaves and petite white Daisy-esque flower heads with bright yellow centers. The fragrance is usually described as smelling of sweet apple, as it’s also crisp, fruity and herbaceous. The seeds are sown in spring or autumn, and the flower heads are harvested as they fully bloom in the summer, typically in June and July. It’s said that one home-dried flower has more flavor than one bag of a commercially-produced tea! The word Chamomile and the genus name Chamaemelum come from Greek words meaning “earth-apple” and “on the ground.” Used for a very wide variety of reasons, this wonderful plant flavors foods and in herbal teas, perfumes, cosmetics, tonics, hydrosols and essential oils!

The magic of Chamomile’s properties have given it a place in history since its discovery in ancient times. The Egyptians revered Chamomile and dedicated the herb to the sun, worshipping it above all others, although these days it’s also known in synchronicity with the moon, as it has very relaxing, soothing effects. Hieroglyphic records show that it was also used cosmetically for at least 2,000 years, with Egyptian noblewomen and royalty using preparations of crushed petals on their skin. Greek physicians prescribed it for fevers and female disorders. In the Victorian era of flowers, Chamomile was known for its patience in adversity, as the saying goes: “like a chamomile bed, the more it is trod, the more it will spread.” This sweet, healing plant is affectionately called “the plant’s physician,” as it has a remarkable effect on every garden, and will even revive sick, drooping plants if placed near them. In 19th-century England, schools were closed for “Chamomile season” and women and children of the villages would gather Chamomile in exchange for a year’s rent of their cottages. Doctors in England and the colony of Virginia kept it handy in their medical bags, and today, it’s still just as beloved!

Healing properties of Chamomile... especially as an essential oil:

  • Antiseptic, antibiotic, antiviral, antibacterial, and as a disinfectant. Great antiseptic and antibiotic properties, disallowing infections to develop, and eliminating infections that are already present. Chamomile is also great at removing intestinal worms, and if applied to the hair will kill lice, mites and keep the hair and scalp free from infections and damage. Great in curings mumps, measles, asthma and other upper respiratory congestions. Chamomile is an especially effective healer of wounds and significantly decreases the surface area while also drying it out.

  • Sudorific. Chamomile induces profuse perspiration, which helps to remove toxins and agents that cause infections while simultaneously cooling down the body and effectively providing relief from a fever.

  • Stimulating and an antidepressant. Very effective in fighting depression and anxiety and bringing about a good mood!

  • Anti-inflammatory and sedative. Wonderful in calming down annoyance, anger and irritation, especially in small children, and in treating babies with colic. While I recommend the German variety more for its anti-inflammatory properties, this (Roman) chamomile is still good in helping to cure inflammation, particularly in the digestive and urinary system, and in reducing blood pressure. Perfect for insomnia, especially when mixed with valerian and lavender essential oils, and in overall promotion of sound sleep.

  • For digestive health! Anti-inflammatory benefits aside, chamomile is a great overall oil for stomach and digestion health, and helps sooth indigestion. It helps to promote the secretion of digestive juices and facilitate digestion, as well as ensure good liver health and the proper flow of bile from it. By increasing the secretion of hydrochloric acid, bile, and enzymes in the stomach, digestion is also promoted, helping those with a loss of appetite. Wonderful in treating irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers and relieving symptoms of Crohn’s Disease.

  • For the circulatory system. curing dysfunctions, stimulating circulation, and detoxifying the blood from toxins like uric acid, ailments like rheumatism and arthritis can be cured.

  • Skin, skin, skin. Chamomile diminishes scars, marks and spots on skin and especially the face, as well as protects wounds, cuts, and bruises from becoming infected. Helps cure acne by removing toxins and cleaning sebaceous and eccrine glands through sweating. May also be used topically to stop itching, and drinking Chamomile tea will greatly speed the healing effects. Also treats skin allergies, eczema, psoriasis, and diaper rash. Wonderful in soothing chapped skin, especially hands.

  • Mild analgesic properties. Reduces pain in muscles and joints, headaches, sinuses, toothaches, and bone injuries.

  • Carminative: Expels gas from the intestines and stomach while also curbing additional gas formation. This helps the body relax, lower pressure, and completely removes the risk of excess gas in the body.

  • Antispasmodic, relaxant and a nervine. Chamomile contains ‘spiroether,’’ a very potent antispasmodic that relaxes tense, aching muscles, and calms almost all nervous disturbances including convulsions, spasms, nervousness and loss of control over limbs. Reduces tension, promotes relaxation and keeps the nervous system in a state of good health and proper functioning.

  • Herbal tonic. Restores, tones and invigorates systems in the body and promotes general health and wellbeing.

  • Diuretic. Promotes urination, helping detox the urinary system and kidneys, especially from uric acid.

  • Oral health. Thanks to its antibacterial anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile is great in eliminating oral infections, soothing any possible inflammations, treating gingivitis, freshening breath with its sweet herbal scent, and is gentle enough for small children and even teething babies.

  • Women’s health. Wonderful in relieving menstrual cramps and helping reduce pain in childbirth.

  • Comforting, soothing and relaxing energies. Greatly helps remove etheric poison from your auric field.

  • Also… provides headache and migraine relief and moisturizes, softens, and lightens hair with its bleaching properties ~ especially when brewed as a tea and used as a final leave-in rinse.

* Studies show that Chamomile fights against Staphylococcus aureus bacteria and Candida albicans fungi.

Please note… that because Chamomile is a uterine stimulant, it should not be used during pregnancy and it can cause contact dermatitis if not properly handled. People with allergies to Ragweed, Aster and/or Chrysanthemums may react to drinking Chamomile tea or ingesting Chamomile by exhibiting hay-fever like symptoms and/or hives.

Key components (in no particular order) of Chamomile include: Cyanogenic glycosides, Coumarin, Flavonoids, Phenolic acids, Salicylic acid, Sesquiterpene lactones, Tannins, Valeric acid, Tiglic acid, Angelic acid, Chamazulene, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Camphene, Caryophyllene, Sabinene, Myrcene, Terpinene, Farnesol, and Eucalyptol.

Blends well with: German chamomile, Clary sage, Angelica root, Sweet marjoram, Turmeric, Nard/Jatamansi, Elemi, Melissa, Lavender, Jasmine, Geranium, Carrot seed, Lemon, Lime, Ylang Ylang, Grapefruit, Bergamot, and Tangerine/Mandarin essential oils.

Example formulation: “Sleepy Time” Spritzer

Gather a 4 ounce glass bottle with a spray top and add 4 ounces of spring water, 15 drops of Chamomile, 20 drops of Lavender and 30 drops of Mandarin/Tangerine.

Chamomile uses in forms besides an essential oil..

  • Ingesting Chamomile essential oil is not very effective as its not quite water-soluble so only a small amount will be released into a tea. For the best internal healing of this divine plant, especially in this form, use a whole flower head as or in with tea from a reputable source to promote the above healing properties as well as create a very effective remedy against insomnia. Avoid any powdered formula that contains the stems or any other part of the plant.  

  • An infusion of Chamomile is absolutely wonderful for irritable bowel syndrome, poor appetite, and indigestion. Take advantage of its sweet scent and flavor, and remarkable antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties by making a mouthwash out of it. Putting some of an infusion, or some flower heads, in baby’s bathwater will help encourage sleep at night!

  • Creating an ointment with Chamomile could be used for insect bites, wounds, itching (especially with regards to eczema), and for genital irritation.

  • Making a lotion/moisturizer out of it would be essential for chapped hands, diaper rash and any other type of related skin issue.

  • Inhaling an infusion in steam is great for asthma or other sufferers of a upper respiratory condition or congestion.