Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)

There are two sorts of chamomile commonly used medicinally. Chamomilla recutita (previously called Matricaria recutita) or German Chamomile is the one I prefer to use. Chamaemelum nobilis, also called Anthemis nobilis or Roman Chamomile is a little more bitter and is the one traditionally used for chamomile lawns. The flower is the part used. Chamomile is a very versatile remedy with many uses. It is an herb always worth having in your cupboard. Teabags or loose dried flowers should be kept dry and cool, in the dark, preferably in an airtight container, to keep them as fresh as possible, as some of the medicinal properties of chamomile are due to its content of volatile oils, which can easily evaporate if not stored correctly.
Chamomile is generally a safe remedy for adults, babies and children. It has a long history of safe use generally and during pregnancy, is compatible with breastfeeding (Mills and Bone 2005) and is traditionally used for children. There have been no known cases of over dosage, according to Mills and Bone (2005), although dosage should be adjusted for children according to body weight. In my experience excessive doses can cause mild diarrhoea in children. Some people are allergic to it, although this is extremely rare. Allergic reaction is more likely to occur with Roman Chamomile, and in people who are known to be allergic to other members of the Compositae or Asteraceae (Daisy) family of plants.
Chamomile is relaxing to the nervous system and the digestive system. It can help to resolve inflammation and heal skin conditions and ulcers. It can be used to treat allergies and is mildly antimicrobial.
It is frequently my first herb of choice for babies and young children. It can be used for pain, tension and irritability. Traditionally it is used for many problems of babyhood, such as teething, sleep problems, colic and earache, and externally for cradle cap, and is an effective calming remedy for unsettled babies that are fussing and whining.
Chamomile can be used to relieve allergies, such as hay fever, asthma and externally for eczema. To relieve hay fever and asthma symptoms you can take it internally or use a strong tea just for inhaling by placing it in an uncovered bowl in a safe place in the room. If the baby is in a cot, the bowl can be placed under the cot and the vapours will rise so baby can breathe them in. In clinical trials chamomile cream has been found to be effective in treating eczema and dermatitis, comparable to hydrocortisone cream (Mills and Bone 2000). Chamomile is also used to treat wounds and varicose ulcers.
Chamomile is useful in infections. As it is relaxing, it soothes aches and pains and encourages restful sleep. It is anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and is active against bacteria and thrush (McIntyre 1994). Chamomilla recutita also stimulates the immune system by enhancing phagocytosis by 31% (Hoffman 2003). Phagocytosis is a process by which certain white blood cells engulf and destroy infectious micro-organisms.

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2 thoughts on “Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita)

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