Herb Spotlight: Chamomile
Chamomile is a daisy like flower that smells sweet and like apples. There are several different types of chamomile, the most common being Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), with German chamomile being the most used. Chamomile is in the family of Asteraceae (Compositae) as are daisies, coneflowers, sunflowers and many others. It is an annual flower that grows quite readily in our climate and is self seeding as well.
Chamomile tea has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments. According to the German Commission E (widely regarded as the authority of herbs and their properties), chamomile's actions are:
Antiphlogistic (anti inflammatory, reducing inflammation and fever) Musculotropic (acting on muscle tissue, particularly with a stimulating effect) Antispasmodic (relieving spasms, particularly of smooth muscle such as the stomach) Promotes wound healing Deodorant Antibacterial Bacteriostatic (capable of inhibiting the growth or reproduction of bacteria) Stimulates skin metabolism
Folk use of chamomile also includes in its scope of actions diaphoretic (promotes sweating, useful in treating fevers) and stomachic (toning the stomach, improving its function).
Chamomile is considered a mild tranquilizer or sleep inducer. Its calming effects may be attributed to an antioxidant called apigenin, which is found in abundance in chamomile tea. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in your brain that may help decrease anxiety and help you sleep.
Chamomile can also help with keeping your digestive system healthy as it may protect against diarrhea, stomach ulcers, nausea and gas, likely due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects. Traditionally it has been used to treat stomach cramps, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), indigestion, diarrhea, gas, and colic. It helps relax muscle contractions, particularly in the smooth muscles that make up the intestines. There's nothing like a cup of chamomile tea to soothe the stomach!
Here are 3 articles outlining the benefits of chamomile tea:
Is it any wonder that this lovely flower is so good for you? That's why I add it to my herbal tea formulas for soothing the stomach as well as relaxing the nervous system.
To reap the maximum benefits of chamomile tea, it is best to start with the bulk flowers. A lot of people tell me that they don't like chamomile tea, that it tastes like nothing; I then ask them if they use tea bags or the bulk herb. Mostly they use tea bags, which generally imparts minimal flavour and not as significant health benefits as the whole flower. You can find it in some health food stores as well as some ethnic grocery stores or online. For each cup (8 oz, 250 ml) of boiling water, use 1 heaping teaspoon of chamomile flowers, cover to retain all the flavours and aromas of the herb and let steep 10 to 15 minutes, then strain and enjoy.
Enjoying a nice cup of herbal tea is a lovely way to end your day or at any time of day! Take advantage of Nature's pharmacy and make a cup of tea part of your daily ritual for the health of your body and mind.