Parts used medicinally: Flowers
Chamomile is a soothing herb inside and out. It has natural sedating properties and so is useful in minor cases of insomnia, particularly in children. It has anti-inflammatory properties and so is traditionally used when there is any inflammation of the gut such as ulcers and colitis. As a good digestive, it is also helpful in relieving bloating and flatulence.
What is Chamomile?
Summer brings with it fields scattered with pretty white and yellow chamomile flowers. Camomile infusions are made from the bright yellow pollen head of Matricaria recutita and produce a golden bright clear liquor with sweet floral, honeyed notes, evoking aromas from a summer meadow.
This common herbal infusion is perhaps the most underestimated medicinal herb we have and can help us in many different ways. In herbal medicine it is used as a digestive aid, a sleep aid, reduces redness and itchiness in skin conditions - it even contains an antihistamine to help reduce allergies and hay fever symptoms. There seems to be no end to this humble plant's uses!
There are several species of chamomile, but two of them are most commonly used - the German and the Roman. Roman chamomile is markedly more bitter and has a much bigger flowerhead. Due to its bitterness it is not commonly used in herbal infusions and so when people talk about chamomile tea they are usually referring to the German Chamomile, as we are here.
Did You Know?
- Chamomile is a member of the daisy family.
- The essential oil of German chamomile is a bright blue colour due to the presence of a chemical called a chamazulene. Chamazulene can reduce allergic and inflammatory responses in the body.
- Chamomile flowers are used as ingredients in vermouth and Benedictine.
Chamomile & Me
- If you have tired, irritated eyes try bathing them in cold chamomile tea. Simply infuse chamomile in hot water for at least 5 minutes, cool and apply to cotton pads. Or take the cool teabags and use those instead!
- Chamomile tea bags can be added to your bath to promote relaxation and help you to get a better sleep. As it is safe for children you can add it to a child's bath for a restful night.
- If you have a sore throat, you can try using cooled chamomile tea as a gargle.
If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.