The leaves of the fragrant chamomile (Mentha spicata) are greenish yellow when young and turn brown or black with age. The flowers have five petals each containing several stamen and pistil segments, which resemble tiny white grapes. These stigmas contain flavonoids such as thujone, myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene and other compounds that produce their characteristic aroma.
Chamomile flowers are used medicinally and traditionally in Europe and Asia, but they are now grown commercially in North America. Chamomile flowers have been used to treat stomach ailments including indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence. They may also relieve headaches and reduce anxiety. The dried flower buds of the fragrant chamomile plant are sold for use as tea; however, the raw herb is often consumed fresh.
Chamomile flowers are also known to help ease menstrual cramps, improve sleep quality and decrease pain.
Fragrant chamomile is native to the Mediterranean region, where it grows naturally in warm climates from Spain through Italy and Greece. It is found growing wild throughout much of Europe and Asia. It is sometimes called “the rose of the hills” because its fragrance is so distinctive. It is closely related to the common chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), which is used in herbal medicine for similar purposes.
To prepare the tea, cover one teaspoon of dried flowers with one cup of boiling water and steep for ten minutes. Alternatively, pour a cup of hot water over one teaspoon of dried flowers. Sweeten to taste. The tea has a pleasant apple-like flavor and can be taken either hot or cold.
For medicinal purposes, drink two or three cups of chamomile tea per day.
Chamomile flowers are not recommended for use during pregnancy. No information is available about the use of chamomile during breastfeeding. Do not give chamomile flowers to children under the age of two.
People with ragweed allergies may have allergic reactions to chamomile. People who are allergic to plants in the aster family should use chamomile with caution because it is related to ragweed. Avoid chamomile if you have allergies to other herbs in the aster family such as yarrow, tansy or daisies.
Chamomile has been used medicinally for thousands of years. It was used by the ancient Romans and Egyptians and became a part of the United States Pharmacopeia in the nineteenth century.
Several different species of chamomile are used medicinally around the world, including the Roman, or common chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), and wild strawberry (Fragaria vesca). The most popular variety in herbal medicine is German chamomile, which is also widely used to make a soothing tea. All types of chamomile contain compounds that produce the plants’ characteristic aroma.
Chamomile is believed to promote relaxation and generally ease stress. It is thought to act as a nerve sedative, antispasmodic, carminative and anodyne (painkiller). It also works as an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
Chamomile is used to relieve stomach pains, menstrual cramps and flatulence. It also helps to promote a good night’s sleep and improve overall sleep quality, as well as treat bacterial and inflammatory skin conditions such as boils, abscesses, infected wounds and eczema.
The tea may also be used to wash sore eyes to reduce swelling and pain. It can also be used as a hair rinse to prevent drying and streaking.
While there is very little scientific evidence to support the benefits of chamomile, it has been used for centuries as a medicine in North America and Europe. It has shown promise in treating various health conditions related to the cardiovascular system, skin, eyes, nervous system and digestive system.
In Germany, chamomile preparations are marketed as pharmaceutical drugs for treating inflammation, pain and allergies. In the United States, chamomile is classified as a dietary supplement.
The essential oils of chamomile flowers have been shown to reduce inflammation. The anti-inflammatory compounds may protect the stomach and intestines by reducing muscle spasms. It is also believed to have antibacterial and antioxidant activity.
Chamomile increases saliva and stomach acid secretions in the body and relaxes muscles. It has been used for thousands of years to promote relaxation and improve sleep. It is also believed to be anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
Even when taken in large quantities, chamomile is not known to have any negative side effects or interactions with other drugs or herbs. Its safety for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding has not been established.
Chamomile is widely available in teabag, tablet and liquid extract forms. It can be found at most grocery or health food stores.
You should buy a chamomile product that has a standardized extract of Matricaria recutita if you want to take advantage of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and stomach-soothing abilities.
It is most often taken as a tea, but can also be bought as an oil extract or in supplement form. When treating a medical condition, it’s best to follow the advice of your doctor or another health professional.
Try drinking one cup of chamomile tea after a bad night of sleep or when you have trouble falling asleep during the night. Drink two or three cups in the morning if you suffer from stomach pain, nausea or diarrhea.
For skin irritation, sore eyes and other external symptoms, wash your face or soak in a bath containing one cup of chamomile tea.
Sources & references used in this article:
CHAMPA (Michelia champaca) by MA Rahman – academia.edu
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The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Revised and Expanded: Over 800 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Recipes to Create Health, Beauty … by VA Worwood – 2016 – books.google.com
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