Chamomile (German) - Side Effects and Benefits

Botanical Name of Chamomile: chamomilla, matricaria recutita, Chamomilla recutita

Other Common Names: Mayweed, scented mayweed, pinheads, pineapple weed, german-hundskamille.

Habitat: This annual herb is originally from Europe but has become naturalized to most continents. It can be found growing along fences and paths in well-lit areas with well drained, light soil.

Plant Description: The stem of the Chamomile plant is erect and hollow. It is a small plant, growing to a height of 8 to 16 inches. The flowers are small (about 1 inch across) and daisy-like with a white collar around a cone shaped, yellow center. The leaves are light green and feathery with a bipinnate pattern. The entire plant has a sweet, pineapple scent.

Plant Parts Used: The entire above ground portion of the plant can be used. The flowers are edible and can be used raw to top salads. The chamomile flowers are also often dried and used in tea or added to the bath. They may also be pressed for their oil. The leaves are dried and used in aromatherapy and other herbal medicines.

Therapeutic Uses, Benefits and Claims of Chamomile

* Chamomile is used for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic and sedative properties.
* It is also used internally to treat spasms and inflammation of the digestive tract.
* In ancient Anglo-Saxon days, the flowers were chewed to relieve toothaches, which coincides with today’s use as a mouth rinse for sore gums and inflammations of the oral cavity.
* Chamomile is often used to treat nervous disorders such as insomnia, anxiety and nervous tension.
* A salve or compress made from Chamomile can be used to help treat wounds or skin irritations, due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
* Chamomiles antispasmodic effects make it useful in treating spasms and cramping, including menstrual cramps.
* Chamomile is used to make soothing teas and as an additive to bath water for a relaxing soak.
* It is often added to cosmetics as an anti-allergen.
* The anti-inflammatory properties of this herbal medicine make it a good possibility for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or other painful swelling disorders.
* This herb is safe for use in children and may help with children’s problems that have a nervous component. It has also been used on chickenpox, diaper rash and colic.

Dosage and Administration

Chamomile can be used as a tea by steeping the crushed flowers (2-3 teaspoonfuls) in a cup of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes and then draining. Adding 1 cup of the dried petals in a linen bag to hot bath water will make a relaxing bath. The oils can be used on the skin as treatment for skin conditions such as eczema. The creams and gels made from the oils can be used externally throughout the day. A typical dosage of 10 to 15 grams (about 3 to 5 tablespoonfuls) daily shows promise.

Chamomile has been shown to cause allergic reactions to people who have allergies to other members of this plant family (including arnica, artemisia, feverfew, tansy and yarrow.) People with hay fever or asthma should be cautious when beginning use of chamomile, as it has been found to aggravate these conditions in some people. Contact allergies have been found in rare cases as well

People on blood-thinners such as Coumadin or Warfarin should consult their physician before using chamomile because it may enhance the effects of the medications. Alcohol use should be limited due to the sedative effect. The use of chamomile while on prescription sedatives (such as Ativan, Valium, and Xanax) must be monitored as well.

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About The Author, Subodh Jain