Week two of our botanical deep dive, and we're tackling Chamomile! It's one of our most beloved ingredients to use in any product meant to soothe and calm the nervous system, especially for exhausted adults and cranky children. And what evening would be complete for the overworked and underpaid Mom, if not for drowning our woes at the end of the night in a comforting cup of Chamomile Tea before crashing to bed?
Family: Asteraceae (aster, daisy, or sunflower family)
Latin Name: Matricaria recutita
Common Names: True Chamomile and German Chamomile
Parts Used: Flowers
Energy & Flavours: Cooling and relaxing. Chamomile has gentle notes of apple, pineapple, and hay. Some describe it as a honey-like sweetness.
Biochemical Constituents: α-bisabolol, chamazulene, and flavonoids
Medicinal Actions: Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, digestive tonic, analgesic, antiseptic, vulnerary, and nervine
Medicinal Preparations: Bath, cream, hydrosol, infused oil, poultice, salve, tea/infusion, wash
Habitat & Growing Conditions: Different species of Chamomile can be found all over Europe, North Africa, and the temperate regions of Asia.
The True or Common Chamomile is a low-growing plant. The root is perennial, the blooms appear from July to September. Chamomile can easily be confused with daisies, as they both have white petals with yellow centres. One distinguisihing feature is that the centre of the daisy is much flatter than that of the Chamomile.
The Chamomile prefers dry and sandy soil.
Wild Chamomile, aka Pineapple Weed or False Chamomile, grows in North America from Newfoundland to British Columbia, south to Mexico. It has also been introduced to the Yukon, Alaska, and NWT. It can be seen growing in poor, compacted soils along roadsides, driveways, garden edges, and foot paths, and can be used in the same way as true chamomile. It’s free for the picking and delicious!
The History of Chamomile: In ancient Egypt, chamomile was revered for its virtues and dedicated to the gods for its believed power to cure ague (fever). In old England, chamomile was grown for centuries for its medicinal uses and its reputation as a medicinal plant shows no signs of slowing down.
The Greeks noticed that fresh chamomile has a smell of apples, which is why they named it kamai melon (on the ground apple), which was the origin of the name Chamomile. The Spanish call it "Manzanilla" which means 'little apple'. Chamomile’s scientific name, Matricaria, comes from the Latin name matrix, meaning “mother” and caria meaning “dear” and refers to its many traditional and wonderful uses for both women and children.
The herb was believed by Anglo-Saxons to be 1 of 9 sacred herbs given to humans by the Lord.
Medicinal Uses: Due to chamomile’s carminative properties, it can be used to soothe stomach pains, heartburn, gas, diarrhea and nausea.
Chamomile has nervine properties (meaning it soothes the nervous system), making it the perfect beverage before bed to help you get a restful night’s sleep. You can add chamomile flowers to an herbal sachet to tuck under your pillow at night, too!
Chamomile can be helpful for menstrual cramping or painful menstruation, and even help with inflammation of the urinary tract. Colicky and teething babies can benefit from a teaspoon of chamomile tea diluted in one cup of water.
Externally, chamomile powder, poultice, or tea may be applied to wounds taking their time to heal, for skin eruptions and infections such as shingles, hemorrhoids, and for inflammation of the mouth, throat and eyes (Source)
The dry flowers of chamomile make for amazing herbal tea, baby massage oil, and can help treat cough and cold.
Food Uses: Use the blooms (bright yellow and apple-like in flavour) crushed or dried in hot butter then stir them into oatmeal. Add chamomile flowers to crunchy toppings on apple, peach, or berry crisps. Chamomile liqueur can be made by mixing dried chamomile flowers with vodka, honey and lemon zest. Let the liqueur infuse for two to four weeks and strain well.
You may make chamomile oil by infusing chamomile flowers in almond oil to add to salads or fish dishes. Of course you can add blooms to a fresh salad, but avoid the leaves as they can have a bitter flavour. (Source)
Chamomile tea can be added to smoothies, or try adding it to batter when making cake and muffins. Our family has also made Sleepy Time Popsicles with Chamomile Tea (see our YouTube video to learn how!).
Cosmetic Uses: Chamomile is often used to help clear up acne due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties coming from the α-bisabolol, chamazulene, and flavonoids. It makes a beautiful choice for facial steams, foot soaks, and hot baths.
A study published in the International Journal of Pharmacognosy found that chamomile is one of the most potent natural products in addressing hyperpigmentation of the skin. (Source)
The anti-inflammatory properties of Chamomile can also help in creams to alleviate the symptoms of Eczema and Psoriasis.
Chamomile Hydrosol (Floral Water) makes a beautiful face toner for irritated, inflamed, painful, acne-prone, sensitive, or red skin types. The hydrosol can also be sprayed on pillows or linens to promote calm energy for bedtime.
Products we make featuring Chamomile: Our very popular Sleepy Time Tea is formulated with Chamomile as its main ingredient to nourish over-worked nervous systems and help you wind down at the end of a hectic day. A small amount of chamomile is featured in our Moon Glow Tea, a formula created in tandem with my Naturopathic Doctor to assist nausea during pregnancy. Our Siren Song Bubble Bath and our Caireen's Children Wash and Shampoo is prepared with Lavender, Neroli, and Chamomile Oil to prepare you or your babe for sleep. You might see a pattern here - our Magic Monster Spray is lovingly crafted with Chamomile Floral Water to spray away the monsters and guard the dreams of your little ones, to help both them and you get a good nights sleep!
Safety Class: 2b - The use of Chamomile during pregnancy is not recommended except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Interaction Class: A - Herbs in this class are herbs for which no clinically relevant interactions are expected.
Pregnancy and Lactation: The use of Chamomile during pregnancy is not recommended except under the supervision of a qualified healthcare practitioner. No information on the safety of Roman chamomile during lactation was identified.
Sources: A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve, US National Library of Medicine, International Journal of Pharmacognosy, Herbal Dynamics Beauty, The Boreal Herbal by Beverley Gray.