Herbs have been an integral part of life since the dawn of time. From the nutrition they provide to their medicinal benefits, herbs have always had a place in our gardens and homes. One sunny little flower, in particular, has held a place of high regard among beneficial herbs since long before the ancient Romans, and that’s Chamomile.
Hailing from Europe and West Asia, Chamomile was held in the highest of regards in ancient times. The Egyptians believed this herb to be sacred and a gift straight from the sun god Ra. The ancient Greeks and Romans used this plant for a wide variety of ailments, including as a sleep aid. Slovakian folk-lore says that you should always bow when facing a chamomile plant out of respect for its immense medicinal capabilities. It was even used, during the Civil War, as a medicinal herb for treating upset stomachs, diarrhea, gout, fevers, and flu symptoms.
There are two Chamomile plants, German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). For most purposes, the two plants are used in the same way and are completely interchangeable. The one that has been studied the most, however, is German Chamomile, so that’s the one you will likely find most often. Some gardeners prefer one over the other because of their growing habits, but like their medicinal uses, they are very similar and often interchangeable.
For those of you who are more garden savvy, Chamomile makes an excellent ground cover and does very well in zones 3-9. Try planting it next to a walkway, or in place of grass. It grows best in cooler climates, but in warmer areas, it does just as well in the shade. It should be planted in the spring and once it’s established it ends up needing very little care. It should even reseed annually.
There are many great uses for this little plant, so let’s go on a journey to discuss some of the more common ways we still use it today.
Sleep & Relaxation
Chamomile has been used as a bedtime tea for centuries, and with good reason. This happy little flower helps to relax and sedate our nervous system, allowing sleep to come easier and our anxieties to virtually drift away. Many people will diffuse Chamomile Essential Oil at night to help them sleep, but a cup of herbal tea can work just as well. The act of brewing a cup of tea is always a great relaxation and sleep aid, but making sure your herbal blend includes Chamomile will help all the more. Try a blend such as Meditative State of Mind, to help reduce those daily anxieties and calm your mind. It’s even gentle enough for children. Chamomile tea, sometimes with a touch of milk, has been a great night time drink for children for centuries.
The Common Cold
Chamomile has been a traditional remedy for the common cold and many of its symptoms for centuries. From inhaling the vapors in a steam bath to sipping the tea (sweetened with honey of course) to reduce the pain of a sore throat. Chamomile is just a great herb to use when you’re feeling ill.
Chamomile, while seemingly sweet-tasting, is a bitter herb.Let your Chamomile tea steep for more than 20 minutes and you’ll find out. Bitter herbs are great for digestion. They help trigger our digestive systems to release more bile, which helps to digest fats and proteins more efficiently. They also assist in nutrient absorption. Chamomile also lends its anti-inflammatory properties to our digestive tracts. This helps to ease stomach aches, reduce flatulence, and calm an upset stomach. Simply drink a cup of Chamomile tea, or take a dropperful of Chamomile tincture, 15 minutes before you plan on eating your meal to get the best results.
If you read labels, you may come across Chamomile in a number of your beauty products. It’s a traditional treatment for several skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea. It also helps the skin to heal and recover from burns, scrapes, and sores. No wonder the beauty industry uses this herb so much. You can also take advantage of these benefits by making a strong Chamomile tea and using it as a wash for your wounds, as a daily face wash, or use it in your bath.
Chamomile has been traditionally used to treat several illnesses and conditions including the bone density loss that comes with age, known as osteoporosis. The main reasoning for this is that Chamomile can mineralize and strengthen bones.
Chamomile helps to boost immunity in general. Not only does it help to calm anxiety, which boosts the immune system already, it also helps our bodies fight harmful bacteria, reduces inflammation, and has a large concentration of healthy antioxidants. These properties make Chamomile a great, yet gentle, herb to help improve our overall health.
Menstrual Pain & Vaginitis
Chamomile is a great herb for women of all ages. Some studies have shown that it helps alleviate the symptoms of PMS. It’s also a traditional, and effective, treatment for menstrual cramps and vaginitis. Not only helping to reduce the pain and inflammation but also helping to ease the anxiety that often accompanies these hardships.
There is one note of caution regarding this otherwise great herb. Chamomile is very closely related to Ragweed and people who are allergic to Ragweed may also be allergic to Chamomile.
Adding a tea ritual to your days and nights can soothe the soul and calm your nerves. Meditative State of Mind tea has beneficial herbs for your health and your sanity. Order yours on Amazon to try this delicious blend. Read our article about this lovely tea.
So, sit back, relax, and enjoy a nice cup of Chamomile tea, or take a relaxing Chamomile bath. Though you don’t have to stick to just this one herb. Experiment with herbal teas and blends, find one (or a handful) you like and add a little bit of herbal health into your daily routine.
Anastacia Elizabeth Walden
Freelance writer and editor at Walden Writes For Women, in Gainesville, Florida