Chamomile is one of the safest and most popular herbs around. As one of the world’s favorite teas, its soothing aroma can be found in restaurants, supermarkets and many homes.
Chamomile has a variety of effects on the human body, but generally it is used as a calming or soothing agent. Chamomile can have a relaxing effect on the mind, stomach and bowels, plus it is a handy natural sleep aid. It is often used by mothers looking for a safe way to help their child get to sleep.
Chamomile crops up regularly in European fiction - in fact Peter Rabbit (of the famous childrens' books) gave it to his mother to sooth her stomach cramps.
When we talk about Chamomile in tea or in herbal medicine, it is normally German Chamomile that we are discussing. This member of the sunflower family grows near small towns and villages, usually on roadsides or in hedgerows.
Although Chamomile originated in Europe and Asia, it is now also grown in North America and Australia.
Chamomile is known for its very mild, soothing effects on the body. It is excellent for any stress-induced conditions such as insomnia or nerves, and is often given to those in a highly emotional state. Many parents give Chamomile tea to their teething babies.
As an anti-inflammatory, Chamomile tea can be used to ease the symptoms of arthritis, stiffness and rheumatism. It also calms the stomach and digestive system. Many sufferers of stomach cramps, gas or IBS find that Chamomile helps.
Chamomile is rare among herbs in that it is used as both a herbal medicine and a decoration. Pot pourri and herb pillows often use dried Chamomile leaves for their aromatic apple-like smell. Similarly, aromatherapy experts recommend burning the same leaves to relax the mind and body.
For those readers with fair hair, a Chamomile infusion can make an excellent non-toxic shampoo. This is especially effective for those with dandruff problems or irritable scalps.
Chamomile is usually taken as a tea. Just add two teaspoons of dried Chamomile flower for each cup of tea. The flowers should be taken from the plant just before blooming.
When preparing a soothing tea to help with stomach cramps, adding licorice, fennel and peppermint to the mixture will help Chamomile to act more effectively.
Chamomile can be used externally for children with eczema, mosquito bites or rashes. Just fill an old stocking with chamomile leaves, then place the stocking under the faucet and run the hot water through it.