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Chamomile - Uses and Benefits

Other Names: Matricaria recutita, Chamaemelum Nobile.

Botanical Name: Anthemis Nobilis.

Common Method of Extraction: Steam Distilled.

Chamomile is one of the oldest garden herbs, whose reputation as a medicinal plant shows little signs of abatement. Considered a universal remedy by the ancient Egyptians, Chamomile continues to be used today to battle illness, promote calm and relieve anxiety at bedtime.

Plant Description

Chamomile ( Anthemis nobilis ) is a low-growing plant, creeping or trailing, its tufts of leaves and flowers a foot high. The root is perennial, jointed and fibrous, the stems, hairy and freely branching, are covered with leaves which are divided into thread-like segments, the fineness of which gives the whole plant a feathery appearance.

It usually grows all over Europe and temperate Asia. It is widely introduced in temperate North America and Australia . As the seeds need open soil to survive, it often grows near roads, around landfills and in cultivated fields as a weed. The flowers of this plant usually appear in the later days of summer, from the end of July to September, and are borne solitary on long, erect stalks, drooping when in bud.

Uses and Benefits

Chamomile has a long history of use in Europe for digestive ailments. It has many enchanting uses in the garden and landscape that have been enjoyed for centuries. The essential oil is a wonderful blend of many individual oils. In addition to a wonderful aroma, these oils all have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-microbial activity in the body - that help to ease spasm and discomfort in the digestive tract. When freshly distilled this oil is blue due to the presence of azulene.

Some of the other Common Uses of Chamomile are:

  • Speeds healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or burns.
  • Chamomile flowers are recommended as a tonic in dropsical complaints for their diuretic and tonic properties, and are also combined with diaphoretics and other stimulants with advantage.
  • Chamomile is very helpful in many diseases and conditions. It helps in many common diseases like arthritis, boils, colic, cuts, cystitis, dermatitis, dysmenorrhea, earache, flatulence, hair, headache, inflamed skin, insect bites, insomnia, nausea.
  • Also helps to aid digestion when taken as a tea after meals.
  • Chamomile flower tea is used as a sedative and is good for insomnia and many other nervous conditions. The tea has anti-inflammatory properties, good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings.
  • Milder tea in large doses is given throughout the day for fevers, sore throats, the aches and pains due to colds, flu, and allergies.
  • Relieves morning sickness during pregnancy. Relieves restlessness, teething problems, and colic in children.
  • An infusion of the flowers is used as a hair shampoo, especially for fair hair. It is used as a liquid feed and plant tonic, effective against a number of plant diseases.
  • It has acaricidal properties against certain mites , such as Psoroptes cuniculi . The primary active ingredient of the essential oil from German Chamomile is bisabolol.

Dosage for Chamomile

Chamomile comes mainly in three forms: Capsule, Liquid, and Tea form.

Chamomile is most frequently taken as a tea - 1 tablespoon of the chamomile flowers can be added to hot water. It should be steeped for 10 minutes, covered, and can be taken up to 4 times a day. A chamomile infusion can be applied topically to skin as a compress.

Side Effects

When used in recommended doses, as written on the product label - this product is not expected to cause any serious side effects. Studies report that chamomile is usually well tolerated, except in patients with allergic reactions triggering asthma or causing skin rash. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include: rash , itching, swelling, dizziness, trouble breathing. If you notice any side effects, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

You may need to stop taking chamomile before some types of surgery. If you are to undergo any surgery, or you are taking any other drug or herb with chamomile, in that case also you must first discuss with a qualified health care professional. He will guide you whether you should take chamomile or not and if yes then in what doses. If you experience any adverse side effects after taking chamomile then you must seek immediate medical attention.

Some of the Side Effects of Chamomile are:

  • Some products of chamomile are not pure, and the impurities present in them may cause adverse side effects.
  • Taking large doses of chamomile can cause vomiting.
  • An older, poor-quality study reports slight increases in blood pressure from chamomile, but this is not enough evidence to make a firm conclusion.
  • Chamomile may cause skin irritation. It should not be used in early pregnancy.

Drug Interactions

Theoretically, chamomile may enhance the effects of other sedatives. However, the popularity and common use of chamomile tea suggests that no relevant sedation occurs that necessitates a warning for users. Chamomile was reported to inhibit the in vitro activity of the 3A4 isozyme of cytochrome P450, a common drug-metabolizing enzyme. This has not been validated in vivo, and there are no clinical drug interactions reported for chamomile.

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