Herb of the Month: Chamomile
Author: Lia Pellizzeri
Chamomile, botanically known as Matricaria recutita, is one of the most ubiquitous herbs in the world. Native to Western Europe and Northern Africa, the Germans have used Chamomile for thousands of years to treat an enormous array of conditions requiring both internal and topical use, and was also worshipped by the Ancient Egyptians for its healing properties.
Over 120 constituents have been found in the oil of the lovely white petal flower with orange bud, but the most therapeutically significant appear to be its content of sesquiterpenes, flavonoids, coumarins, and polyacetylenes, which contribute to its anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, wound-healing, and immunomodulatory actions.
What can that soothing cup of Chamomile tea do for you?
Reduce Stomach Inflammation and Soothe the Gut
Chamomile has long been considered an elixir for all stomach-related ailments, especially so for young children to treat general belly-ache, colic and constipation due to its tolerability and mild floral flavour. But it also can be very beneficial for adults where its strong anti-inflammatory action help reduce acid and increase mucous secretion – lining the gut and protecting it from the deleterious effects of inflammation.
Mild Sedative for Sleeplessness and mild Anxiety
One of the other reasons Chamomile is so good for digestive health is its powerful relaxant qualities that are also useful in providing relief from sleeplessness and mild anxiety. It has long been used for its ability to promote relaxation, and recent studies have explored and confirmed its anxiolytic effects. * This presents a great potential in using herbal medicine for mild anxiety.
Use Topically for Mild Wound Healing
For mild skin irritation arising from dermatological conditions such as eczema or dermatitis, Chamomile can have a healing effect through its combination of antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and healing properties. Also making it a great herb to use on minor burns like sunburn, as it penetrates the skin to encourage repair and raise immune defences.
Keeping Gums and Teeth Healthy
Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Chamomile tea can make an excellent mouth wash to help keep your gums and whole oral mucosa healthy, as well as assist with toothache and/or cuts and abrasions in the mouth. Simply alternate washing the mouth out with salt water and a decoction* of Chamomile to get maximum benefit, and sip on some warm tea throughout the day as well.
*A decoction is similar to a tea, however the herb has been boiled on the stove top for a few minutes to yield a stronger, more therapeutic product. Do not boil Chamomile for too long as decoctions are usually made with herbs of a woodier structure, a minute or two should do it for these delicate flowers.
J Srivastava, E Shankar, S Gupta. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future (Review). Mol Med Rep 3: 895-901; 2010
J D Amsterdam et al. A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Oral Matricaria recutita (Chamomile)extract therapy of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol 2009 Aug 29: (4); 378-382
V Gupta et al. Pharmacological Potential of Matricaria recutita – A Review. Int J Pharm Sci & Drug Res. 2010; 2(1): 12-16
|Written by Lia Pellizzeri|
Lia is a qualified Naturopath who believes in the power of nature to heal many of today’s acute and chronic conditions. She’s not only passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but about educating people on nutrition and the amazing benefits of herbs and supplements in addressing symptoms and their underlying issues.
Lia loves to cook, bake and read… when she isn’t busy telling people to enjoy their egg yolks and other healthy fats, she can most likely be found on the lounge with a latte and a tattered copy of Lord of the Rings.