Native to Europe, chamomile is a low-growing flowering plant native to Europe which has been widely used medicinally since the Ancient Egyptians. The word chamomile is derived from the ancient Greek words for "on the ground" and "apples" due to this herb's sweet fragrance. The best chamomile products are made from flower heads which are picked in full bloom.
German chamomile is superior to the Roman variety as the latter may cause allergic reactions the former will not. Chamomile tea and essential oil are used to treat inflammation, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, nausea, diarrhea and eczema. Inhaling chamomile essential oil reduces the body's production of the stress hormone ACTH, thereby soothing the central nervous system.
Steam and boiling water release a chemical in chamomile called chamazulene which relieves stomach pain caused by the release of free radicals that activate histamine. Chamomile tea also contains spirothen, an antispasmodic known to reduce menstrual cramps.
Chamomile tea can be used to calm nerves and treat insomnia. More so than other herbs, the effects of chamomile are cumulative and may require 3-4 weeks to build up in the system. Chamomile tea should contain only the flowers, as stems and leaves contain very few of the healing compounds.
Creams and ointments containing chamomile reduce the "weeping" of minor abrasions, burns and rashes. Save chamomile tea bags to reuse as cold compresses on puffy eyes.
An excellent cleansing moisturizer, particularly for sallow skin, is
Dandelion and Chamomile Milk: 3 TBSP camomile flowers; 3 TBSP dandelion leaves; 4 oz water; and 4 oz milk. Steep the herbs in freshly boiled water for 12 hours. Add the milk, whisk well and steep another 2 hours. Strain and refrigerate. Use daily in the evenings on face and hands.
I love to mix chamomile tea with warm milk and honey for soothing bedtime stress relief. Do any of you use chamomile regularly?
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Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. San Rafael, CA: New World Library, 1991.