Chamomile

Matricaria recutita

 Description

Chamomile (German chamomile) (Matricaria recutita) is one of the most soothing plants in the world. Generally taken as a tea, it calms jangled nerves, acts as a sedative and soothes an upset digestive system. The fresh plant is strongly and agreeably aromatic, with a distinct scent of apples.

Parts used

The dried flowers.

Constituents

Chamomile’s healing properties are due in large part to its volatile oils, which contain a compound called apigenin, along with anthemic acid, tannic acid and a glucoside. Studies reveal that these components act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system that are affected by anti-anxiety drugs, promoting tranquillity.

Medicinal uses

  • Promotes relaxation and eases anxiety.
  • Helps in sleeping problems.
  • May soothe bowel discomfort and heartburn.
  • May relieve symptoms of respiratory tract infection.
  • A tablespoon of chamomile leaves steeped in boiling water with a little fresh ginger can help relieve menstrual cramps.
  • In cream form, may alleviate skin rashes and sunburn

CAUTION

Talk to your medical practitioner before taking any herbal supplements.
Although side effects from taking chamomile are rarely reported, use the herb with caution if you are taking other sedatives. Consult your medical practitioner before taking natural remedies and supplements.

Flora Force Products containing Chamomile

Domestic & culinary uses

Chamomile tea
Although it is usually brewed as a tea, chamomile adds a sweetish, rounded edge to a number of recipes. Try the recipe below for Chamomile Cauliflower Soup.
Chamomile is also used to add a calming fragrance to soaps and bath essences.

Cultivation

German chamomile, the species used mainly in natural remedies, is an attractive annual plant with downy grey-green foliage topped with attractive white, daisy-like flowers. Indigenous to southern and western Europe and north and west Asia, in South Africa it is grown mostly in the Free State, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Mpumalanga provinces, where conditions are temperate. To produce an abundance of flowers, chamomile needs well-drained sandy-loam soil, warm summer days and full sun to produce optimum oil yields. Although chamomile is drought tolerant, it needs enough water to germinate and for the young plants to develop. German chamomile requires little extra care once properly established.

Recipe

Chamomile Cauliflower Soup

Ingredients:
3 cups water
6 chamomile tea bags
1 large head cauliflower, chopped
60 ml chopped onion
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
Nutmeg

Method
Boil the water and steep the tea bags in it for five minutes. Remove the bags, squeezing out the extra liquid. Pour the liquid into a saucepan, add the cauliflower, cover and boil for 15 minutes. Drain, retaining some of the liquid, and set aside. In a pan, heat the butter and sauté the onion and celery until translucent and softened. Place the vegetables in a blender and pulse until the desired consistency. Add some of the chamomile water if the mixture is too thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with a swirl of olive oil and a dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.

Photo credits

  1. by kallerna (Own work)
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
  • By Greg (Chamomile Tea) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Information in our herb library is intended only as a general reference for further exploration. It is not a replacement for professional health advice and does not provide complete dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription medicines. Accordingly, this information should only be used under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified health practitioner such as a registered homeopath, naturopath or phytotherapist.