Chances are you’ve heard of chamomile. You may have read about it in Peter Rabbit, when his wise mother made him some chamomile tea at the end of a long day. You may have read or heard other things about chamomile, its sweet taste, its calming energy, its ability to mellow out a cranky child or tense adult. Chamomile is a useful herb and in my opinion one of the essential ones to have on hand in the home.
There are many species of chamomile, but there are 2 that are used most often medicinally. German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, M. recutita), often thought of as “true chamomile” is a self seeding annual plant that grows about 1-2 feet high. It flowers June-July here in the Pacific Northwest. Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is more commonly found in Europe & is used as a groundcover. It is a perennial plant and the flowers are smaller. Both of these plants are used interchangeably but some herbalists believe German chamomile to be more medicinal due to its content of chamazulene (a constituent with a blue color that you can see in blue chamomile essential oil) being higher.
Chamomile tea is famous for its use as a tea, but can also be used as a tincture or glycerite, and can be infused into oil for topical use. In tea form, it has a sweet, apple-like taste, which is palatable to most adults and children. A stronger brew can be made by simply steeping it longer (20-30 minutes) but this will be incredibly bitter and is not recommended for folks that like their tea to taste good! In many cases, a milder tea will be enough, and you can always add some tincture to it if you need it stronger but don’t like the bitter taste.
Digestive Issues: Chamomile is one of the first herbs I think of when dealing with general digestive disorders, such as nausea, gas, indigestion, or bloating. A simple chamomile tea or tincture usually does the trick here, but if I’m needing a little more I like to combine it with lemon balm and catnip in a blend I call Sweet Peace. It’s also an essential ingredient in formulas for more complex digestive issues, such as leaky gut, GERD, diverticulitis, and IBS, although this should be done with the guidance of an experienced practitioner. For a gut supporting tea blend containing chamomile, click here.
Stress & Anxiety: Although chamomile is gentle enough to be used with children, do not underestimate the power of this plant! Like a warm hug, chamomile is wonderful at helping to calm down restless, anxious, fussy children and adults. If you feel irritable, agitated, or hypersensitive, chamomile may be your herb. Think of it when dealing with children, but also adults that are acting like children (We’ve all been there!) For this, try some chamomile tea or tincture. Our alcohol free Sweet Peace blend is especially wonderful for soothing tension or helping a little or big person to relax and unwind before bedtime. If you are habitually anxious or nervous and need extra support to stay calm and focused, you might want to try Ride the Butterflies, a much-loved formula to support nervousness without feeling drowsy. And for headaches caused by tension or stress, our Headache Support formula combines chamomile with other relaxing antispasmodic herbs such as feverfew, California Poppy, lavender, and hops.
Moon Cycle Balance: Chamomile helps to relax premenstrual tension and its bitter action gently moves stagnation in the liver, which is often associated with premenstrual irritability. Its spasmolytic property is wonderful for menstrual cramps. Many people find that a simple tea or tincture works fine for this, but in my experience a formula such as Sweet Peace or Ride the Butterflies really does the job well.
Babies & Children: As I mentioned earlier, chamomile is a wonderful herb to use with children. It is generally safe, unless there is an allergy to plants in the Asteraceae/Sunflower family, in which case it should be avoided. Moms around the world have been using chamomile with their little ones for ages. From issues such as cradle cap & colic to tummy troubles & tantrums, chamomile has been there. The tea is palatable to most kiddos, but an special treat would be a chamomile popsicle. Add some honey or other healthy sweetener to the tea (Don’t use honey for children under 2), pour into a popsicle mold, and voila-you now have an easy way to get your children to take their herbs. For a simple alcohol free formula containing 3 calming, child friendly herbs, check out our Sweet Peace glycerite.
So there you have it-just a few of the many ways to use chamomile. If you haven’t befriended this lovely herb (and are not allergic to plants in the daisy/sunflower family) then I hope this article inspires you to give chamomile a try! If you already know and love chamomile, then I hope you were able to find new ways to use it. See below for a list of products that feature chamomile, as well as recommended reading to learn more.
Chamomile Products to try:
~Opening our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs (Gail Faith Edwards)
~Medicinal Herbs (Rosemary Gladstar)
~Alchemy of Herbs (Rosalee de la Floret)
~Healing Herbs (Tina Sams)
~Herbal Goddess (Amy Jirsa)
~The Backyard Herbal Apothecary (Devon Young)
~Materia Medica Monthly Issue #24 Chamomile (Sajah Popham)