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chamomileCHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla; Anthemis nobilis)

 

Common names

Ground apple, whig plant, matricaria

 

Medicinal parts

Flowers

 

Description

Extremely aromatic, common chamomile (called "Roman") is cultivated in gardens and can be found in fields growing wild. It flowers during June and July. Flowers should be quickly dried to retain their pungent scent.

 

The Greeks called chamomile "ground apple" for its fragrance: to the Anglo-Saxons, it was maythen, one of nine sacred herbs that the Norse god, Woden, gave to humans.

 

Chamomile is today one of the best-selling herbs. As a tea, it is favored for its relaxing properties as well as its apple-like aroma and is known to soothe the nerves and restore vitality.

 

Contemporary herbalists also recommend chamomile for external use to speed the healing of wounds and treat inflammation. Internally, it is given for fever, digestive upsets, anxiety, and insomnia.

 

The German chamomile is commonly known as "matricaria," a reference to its antispasmodic properties, which have made it an age-old herb used to ease menstrual cramps. In Germany, where herbal healing is mainstream and not considered "alternative," chamomile is so popular that it is called alles zutraut, or all-purpose. Long used to prevent wound infection, only recently did British researchers discover that chamomile stimulates the immune system's white blood cells. It's particularly recommended for use at the onset of a cold or the flu and its warming and soothing properties promote sleep, the greatest curative of all.

 

Generally speaking, chamomile is one of the safest herbs available. However, if you are allergic to ragweed or have ever suffered anaphylactic shock, avoid this herb.

 

Dosage

Tea: Chamomile tea bags are available in health food stores and some supermarkets. It can be obtained in bulk from health food stores. Steep a tea bag in a cup of boiling water for 5 minutes, or make an infusion from 2 or 3 teaspoons of the bulk herb. Drink a cup or two for relaxation, or at night to promote sleep.

The infusion can also be used as a mouthwash to heal inflamed gums or mouth sores. Dilute it for infant colic. For wounds and abrasions, soak a gauze pad in the infusion and apply it to the afflicted part.

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