Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CHAMOMILE


CHAMOMILE-Anthemis nobilis (Roman), Matricaria chamomilla (German), Anthemis tinctoria (ox-eye chamomile), Anthemis catula (dog fennel), Matricaria inodora (mayweed)
 
Also known as Roman chamomile, German chamomile, whig plant, manzanilla and garden chamomile.
 
Parts used:  flowers
 
Meridians/Organs affected:  lungs, live and stomach
 
Properties:  stimulant, tonic, aromatic, bitter, anodyne, emmenogogue, stomachic, antispasmodic, calmative, nervine, diaphoretic, carminative, antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal
 
Chamomile is a member of the sunflower/daisy family.  There are many varieties of this plant but the most well known are the Roman and German types.
 
Native to EurAsia, chamomile is now found throughout Europe, Asia, Egypt, North America and parts of Russia.  It has been cultivated all over the world for its medicinal uses.  The domestically raised chamomile often will not get biggerthan eight to nine inches in height while the wild variety can get as large as three feet high.  It is best collected (and at its most medicinal) between July and August from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 
The ancient Egyptians considered chamomile a sacred plant and would often leave it as a gift to the sun god, Ra, to honor and appease him.  They would also use the oil to massage into their skin to cool fevers and help alleviate any aches and pains, especially those relating to muscle spasms and soreness.  (The Egyptians were WAY ahead of their time in regards to natural medicine).  The Greeks call this plant 'kamai melon' which translated means 'ground apple' .  This is due to the apple-like scent the flower emits.  They (the Greeks) would often use chamomile in poultices and baths to help dissipate issues involving the liver, kidneys and bladder.  It was also usedin this manner for headache relief.  The Spanish refer to chamomile as 'manzanilla' which means 'little apple' . 
 

 
The Europeans in the middle ages would put chamomile on their floors so as to make their homes more fragrant, those coming and going would trample the flowers, releasing their sweet scent into the home.  Beatrix Potter even spoke of chamomile in her books on Peter Rabbit, stating that Peter's mother would often give it to him to calm him.  Chamomile tea has often been used for just such a purpose-to calm the system and induce a restful sleep.  It has also been said to reduce or prevent nightmares.  (Something to consider for using for PTSD I should think....)
 
Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years by herbalists for various maladies including colic, heartburn, loss of appetite, diarrhea, gout, headaches, indigestion and as a diuretic.  It has been used in poultices for pain, swelling and abscesses.  It has been used by many a gardener for its ability to repel insects.  It has often also been referred to as the "plant's physician" as it seems to cure any sick plant it is planted next to.
 
Chamomile has many members in its species.  There is often some debate over which chamomile is the most medicinal.  The English prefer Roman chamomile which is often referred to as just 'chamomile'.  The Germans would say that the German chamomile is more medicinal due to the azulene content (which turns the oil blue and is not actually IN chamomile but appears through the steam distillation of the german chamomile variety).  Azulene does add medicinal components (it is a natural anti-inflammatory), and many people prefer to use German chamomile for all types of skin infections and diseases including eczema and psoriasis.  t is also the oil thatis most often used in creams and salves for sore muscles and joints, sprains, strains, bruises, inflamed tendons, arthritis and rheumatism.
 
Interestingly enough, modern European allopathic doctors often prescribe chamomile for the same ailments their herbalist predecessors did.  (Tis a shame more allopathic physicians in this country do not integrate their practices).  In Germany, they use chamomile oil for female disorders, depression, stress, irritability and chronic fatigue.  As chamomile is well known for its mildness, it is often used for children and infants as well.  Mothers of many children have used it to calm hysterical kids, soothe colic and stomachaches, relieve toothaches and teething pain, and ease earache pain and reduce fevers.  It is also purported to help calm hyperactivity.
 
Modern man has added it to hair care products, lotions, perfumes, etc.  Chamomile seems to not only add shine and silkiness to the hair but also conditions the scalp.  In WWII it was not uncommon to be used in hospitals and doctor's offices as an antiseptic and disinfectant.  In fact, the antiseptic power of chamomile is said to be 120 times greater than sea water or salt water.  The tea has also been used to expel worms in children, for colds, flu, hemorrhoids, asthma, allergies and hay fever.  It is also often combined with ginger for acid indigestion and gas.
 
Chamomile tea is the most popular tea in the world.  It is also popular as a flavoring agent and is used to flavor vermouth, bitters, desserts, candies and a variety of non-alcoholic beverages.  Chamomile has also been studied for a great many years.  The volatile oils it contains have been found effective against staph, candida and a host of other fungi and bacteria.  These oils are effective for and act upon the liver, spleen, kidneys, stomach, uterus and bladder.  The tea also makes an excellent eyewash and has been used to clean open sores and wounds as well as aid in the treatment of gangrene.
 
DO NOT USE THIS HERB IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO RAGWEED!  Chamomile is in the same family as ragweed and may cause and adverse reaction.  To test for sensitivity, brew some chamomile tea and take a small sip.  If a reaction occurs within 20 minutes (rash or swelling), do not take chamomile in ANY form. 
 
As with any of my postings I have included several links below to items concerning chamomile.  Please use them as you see fit. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



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