Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a flowering evergreen shrub native to Europe, Asia and North Africa. It grows up to 2 m tall with a spreading habit. Its leaves are opposite, oval-shaped, smooth and serrated at the tips. They have five leaflets each measuring 1 cm long and 0.5 mm wide at their base. The flowers are white or pinkish-white, and bloom in spring. The fruit is a capsule containing several seeds which develop into small plants when grown outdoors. Chamomile is used as a flavouring agent in many foods and drinks such as soups, sauces, desserts and juices. It is also used medicinally for its sedative properties.
The first recorded use of chamomile was in 1567 by the Italian herbalist Giovanni Battista Sforza. He described it as having “a pleasant smell” and claimed that it could relieve headaches, reduce fever and improve digestion. However, it wasn’t until 1828 that William Osler published his book ‘Herbal Remedies’ which included a recipe for making chamomile tea using dried flowers. Today, chamomile is used medicinally to treat a number of conditions including stomach cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and anxiety.
It is also taken as a sleep aid due to its calming effects on the human body.
Chamomile can be used in cooking, taken medicinally or grown as an ornamental flower in gardens. Some people have allergic reactions to it, so care should be taken before ingesting it.
The exact origin of chamomile is unknown, though it is known to have grown wild in Egypt and was used medicinally by the ancient Egyptians. It has been used medicinally for centuries due to its gentle nature. It has also traditionally been used as a tea and even as a perfume, due to its sweet smell. Within the last few decades, researchers have discovered more about its medicinal effects and uses.
Chamomile can be taken in several forms. The flowers can be steeped in hot water to create a tea, drunk on their own without any additional water, added to fruit juices or taken as a liquid extract. It is generally considered to be safe for most people when taken orally in these amounts. However, large doses of chamomile can cause allergic reactions in some people so care should be taken.
Care should also be taken when using the herb for medicinal purposes during pregnancy.
Chamomile can be used to make a soothing skin lotion for dry or irritated skin. To do this, steep chamomile flowers in some boiling water, strain the flowers out of the liquid and mix it with an oil-based moisturizer such as bland coconut oil or full-fat yogurt. A wash for irritated eyes can be made by adding chamomile tea to cooled boiled water in an eye dropper.
Chamomile is used in cooking to add a pleasant fragrance and flavour to foods such as applesauce, breads, cakes, puddings and rice. It is commonly used to make Matricaria Flower Tea.
Chamomile can be grown outdoors in gardens within the reach of frost -free areas. The flowers can range from white to light pink and are most commonly known for their scent which resembles apple. It prefers to grow in well drained soil with lots of sun. It can be grown from both seeds and from root cuttings.
Chamomile has been shown to have some anti-inflammatory effects in rats with arthritis, however it was found to have no effect on inflammation caused by hay fever.
It was also shown to reduce anxiety in people suffering from generalized social anxiety disorder when compared to people who were taking a placebo.
One potential side effect of chamomile is that it has been shown to cause allergic skin reactions in people who are allergic to plants within the daisy family. These people should avoid using chamomile topically on the skin or taking it orally.
The German Chamomile, also known as ‘Matricaria recutita’, is the most common type of chamomile used today for both its medicinal and culinary uses.
Chamomile grows wild in many parts of the world such as Australia and is also cultivated in Europe.
The chamomile plant first gained popularity due to its ability to treat ailments in humans. The ancient Egyptians were the first known civilization to use it this way, with archaeological evidence suggesting that they used it for things such as snakebites and painful inflammation. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used it for similar reasons. The name ‘chamomile’ is derived from the Greek word ‘ground apple’, which describes the smell of the plant.
During the middle ages chamomile was used to flavor beer.
Due to its pleasant smell, chamomile flowers were also used for perfumes and wall decorations. It is still common today to dry chamomile flowers and use them in potpourri and similar items.
The bioactive compounds found in chamomile are particularly good at breaking down and helping to relieve gas.
Chamomile is used to help treat various conditions of the skin, hair and nails due to its ability to reduce inflammation. It can be applied topically in the form of lotion or ointment.
It is also used as an anti-depressant that helps relieve symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Chamomile is also used to help with digestive issues such as heartburn, stomach aches and colic. It is most commonly taken orally in the form of tea or ingested in capsule form.
Chamomile has been known by many different names in many different places. These names include English Chamomile, Wild Chamomile, Lamb’s Breath, Sweet Dreams, Manzanilla and Wild Matricaria.
Chamomile is a plant species within the Composite (Sunflower) family. It has many different varieties such as German Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, English Chamomile and dozens more.
Matricaria recutita is commonly known as German or Blue chamomile due to the color of its flowers.
Many studies have been done on chamomile, mainly due to its popularity as a herbal supplement.
Chamomile is believed to help calm the stomach, treat acne and other skin conditions, relieve uterine pains, reduce muscle spasms, act as an anti-inflammatory, promote better sleep and treat headaches. It is also used as a mild sedative.
Chamomile can be taken in many forms such as tablets, capsules, herbal tea and even eaten directly by chewing on the fresh flowers.
There are two main types of chamomile used medicinally: German and Roman. Both are used interchangeably but German is more common due to the fact that it is easier to grow.
Chamomile can be taken by nearly everyone, however those with allergies to plants in the daisy family should avoid it. Other than this, there are few cases in which chamomile should not be taken. Pregnant women should also avoid large dosages.
Most commercially available Chamomile supplements have a small amount of additives such as rice flour, magnesium stearate and silica. These are not harmful and will not lessen the benefits of chamomile.
Chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and can be applied topically to reduce skin inflammations such as swelling, redness and irritation. It can be applied in the form of a lotion or ointment.
Chamomile has been used for numerous medical purposes for centuries. It contains many bioactive compounds such as apigenin, bisabolol, matricin and pseudo-tocopherol. These work together synergistically to produce the wide range of effects that chamomile has.
Dried flowers contain the largest amount of these compounds. Between 0.
Sources & references used in this article:
German and Roman chamomile by S Sharafzadeh, O Alizadeh – Journal of applied pharmaceutical …, 2011 – japsonline.com
Towards breeding of triploid chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) – Ploidy variation within German chamomile of various origins by J Rogers – 1999 – Storey Publishing
In vitro induction of autotetraploid of Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile L.) by colchicine treatment and essential oil productivity of its capitulum by LG Otto, WR Junghanns, A Plescher… – Plant …, 2015 – Wiley Online Library
Chamomile biodiversity of the essential oil qualitative-quantitative characteristics by M Tsuro, N Kondo, M Noda, K Ota, Y Nakao… – In Vitro Cellular & …, 2016 – Springer
In vivo, in vitro micropropagation and chemical characterisation of medicinal compounds in chamomile and yarrow species (Asteraceae) by I Salamon – Innovations in chemical biology, 2009 – Springer