German Chamomile (Chamomila recucita) - we all know this flower as Chamomile tea, drunk before going to bed to relax body and mind from infusing the flowers in boiled water. Known to calm the spirit. This herb flowers profusely at this time of year creating a yellow and white carpet. Not only good for calming and relaxing, Chamomile is very effective in addressing gut issues and skin disorders.
Chamomile flowers are rich in essential oils and fatty acids. With affinity to the liver, lungs and stomach it is known as the “mother of the gut” with flavours that are bitter, pungent and astringent. This means Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic (muscles) properties. It is a carminative digestive, bitter tonic as well as being analgesic, sedative, anti-allergenic and anti-catarrhal for the upper respiratory tract. As it contains rutin, it is also able to build the integrity of the vein walls. You might be thinking that it would have been quicker to list what this lovely herb does not do?
Considering further this idea that Chamomile is the “mother of the gut”, how can it help? Chamomile has the ability to address gut issues symptomatically, including epigastric bloating, indigestion and compromised digestion as well as flatulence. It is particularly effective in soothing stress-related digestive upsets such as heartburn and excess acidity. Bisabolol (flavonoid) speeds up the healing of ulcers, and the antimicrobials resolve any infection such as gastroenteritis. Drunk as a tea or taken as an alcohol based tincture on a daily basis, Chamomile will address these gut imbalances.
The other area that Chamomile is particularly effective is for skin disorders, such as psoriasis, eczema and dry, flaky, irritated skin, due to the anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic activity. Using Chamomile for nappy rash is particularly effective when mixed in an organic base cream or lotion. In the same way it can be applied to bites and stings, sunburn and general sores.
Finally, Chamomile can be used as an antiseptic wash for sore, inflamed eyes. Literally soaking two tea bags of Chamomile tea and then placing them on the eyes for 15 minutes twice a day will ease the soreness and reduce inflammation whether caused by allergies or some other irritant.
Chamomile has no known side effects, except in very rare cases when the person has a known sensitivity to members of the Asteraceae family. It is wise to drink only organic Chamomile due to high levels of reported pesticides and heavy metals in some European countries.
McIntrye, Anne, Boudin Michelle (2012). Dispensing with Tradition. Cheltenham: Anne McIntrye and Michelle Boudin. 40.
Murray, Michael M.D, Pizzorno, Joseph N.D (2002). Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine. 3rd ed. London: Little Brown. 767-768.
Tierra, Lesley, L.Ac, Herbalist, A.H.G (2003). Healing with the Herbs of Life. New York: Crown Publishing. 66.