COMMON NAMES: English Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Perennial Chamomile, Camphor Plant, Yellow Chamomile, Dryer’s Chamomile
Chamomile Essential Oil is a beautiful way to experience the energy of this plant.
Anthemis nobilis, Anthemis tinctoria, and other forms of chamomile are multi-branched aromatic herbs that grow up to 12 inches tall, spread quickly, and are annuals. Chamomile is a delicate looking plant but is surprisingly hardy. The flowers are white with a prominent yellow center, and look almost like miniature daisies. Chamomile grow best in full sun and soil that is not too rich (Voogelbreinder 2009, 85).
TRADITIONAL USES: Chamomile has been used for its scent and sedative qualities for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians held that Anthemis nobilis was sacred to the sun god Ra, and used chamomile oil to anoint the body for rituals in his honor. It was also valued by the Arabs and Saxons, who revered it as one of nine most sacred herbs. It was used in Medieval Europe to scent clothing and interior spaces, and was cultivated in fields for its attractive, sweet scent (Voogelbreinder 2009, 84-85).
Matricaria recutita, or True Chamomile, was the most highly esteemed medicinal plant of Asclepius, the ancient Greek god of healing. The plant was frequently prescribed at his temple for the purpose of manifesting therapeutic and visionary dreams and for creating deep, restful sleep (McCracken n.d.).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: Chamomile is generally prepared as a water infusion, although it can also be decocted. It may be applied topically for skin inflammation, and used as an eye wash for tired eyes (Voogelbreinder 2009, 85). The easiest way to prepare chamomile herbage, either fresh or dried, is to place it in boiling water for 5-10 minutes. This creates a delicious tea. Chamomile tea tastes particularly nice, especially when sweetened with honey, agave nectar, or other natural sweeteners. Chamomile herbage may also be steeped in ethanol in order to make a tincture, and is available as an essential oil which can be diffused to produce a pleasant, calming scent in any space.
MEDICINAL USE: The ancient Egyptians anointed the body with chamomile oil in order to treat fevers. Anthemis tinctoria has been used as an antispasmodic and to stimulate menstruation. In India, the roots and flowers of Matricaria chamomilla are used to make a stimulating tonic, and the flowers are used as aphrodisiacs, analgesics, sedatives, and for purposes of supporting the brain. They are also sometimes used to treat hysteria. The flowers of Anthemis nobilis are often used for similar medicinal purposes, and have even been shown to have anti-tumor activity (Rain-tree.com n.d.).
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: When a significant amount of chamomile is consumed, it acts as a sedative, and is slightly hypnotic and soporific. Chamomile is also a disinfectant and anti-inflammatory agent, and is good for digestion. Chamomile contains an essential oil which includes the component chamazulene, as well as flavonoids and coumarins, which produce its anti-inflammatory effects. It is particularly good for calming anxiety, lifting depression, and inducing restful and dream-filled sleep. It is very mild and has no reported side effects, making it a good treatment for children who are suffering from insomnia or anxiety or who are teething (Rain-tree.com).
“Chamomile – Matricaria Chamomilla”, n.d. http://www.rain-tree.com/chamomile.htm.
McCracken, M. “Medicinal Herbs: German Chamomile.” Master Gardeners Mecklenburg County, n.d. http://www.mastergardenersmecklenburg.org/uploads/6/0/7/6/6076512/medicinal_herbs_german_chamomile_0310.pdf.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.