There are two plants that are known as chamomile—German Chamomile (which is the most popular) and Roman (or English) Chamomile. Though belonging to different species, they are used to treat the same conditions. Both have been used to treat frayed nerves, various digestive disorders, muscle spasms, mild infections, and a range of skin conditions.
Other names these plants go by are: chamomile, chamomile, wild chamomile, sweet chamomile, German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile, mayweed, scented mayweed, and pineapple weed.
The ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks used chamomile for many medicinal purposes thousands of years ago, and it is still used for those and other conditions today, including:
- Chest colds
- Sore throats
- Gingivitis – inflammation of the gums
- Minor burns
- Ulcerative Colitis – Inflammatory bowel disease
- Stomach ulcers
- Chicken pox
- Diaper rash
Chamomile flowers have widely been used for herbal tea. It is so popular that it can be found in the tea aisle of most grocery stores. Chamomile tea has been used as a mild sedative and a tonic to calm the nerves. When a child is teething, chamomile tea can be safely used for both of these purposes. It will calm him and help to keep him from being emotional while cutting his teeth. Other uses for chamomile tea are:
- Anti-inflammatory – used for arthritis, and other swellings.
- Antispasmodic – used for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a mild, effective laxative.
- Vasodilator – used for fever, sore throats, the aches and pain of colds and flu, headaches and allergies.
- Anti anxiety tonic.
Chamomile flowers can be made into an infusion, which is especially good for the hair. They can be added to cosmetics as an anti-allergenic or made into an ointment for treating wounds or hemorrhoids. Dried chamomile can be used as potpourri and for herb pillows, and burned for aromatherapy. Other external uses are:
- Compresses – for swellings, sunburns, burns.
- Added to baths to relieve muscle aches, sooth tired feet, and soften skin.
- Rubbed on the skin to repel insects.
- Water plants with the tea to feed them and prevent some diseases.
- Essential oils can be used as a flavoring, in making perfume, and to combat neuralgia and eczema.
- Made into a paste, use it to treat skin irritations, infections, and burns.
- Steam therapy for treating asthma, hay fever, and sinusitis.
Grind dried flowers in mortar and pestle, add some water or unsweetened chamomile tea, and slowly add oatmeal as needed.
Place a handful of flowers in a mesh bag, hang from the faucet by its string, and run the bath water over it.
Natural Hair Highlights:
Thoroughly wet hair with unsweetened, warm chamomile tea. Wrap head with plastic wrap and cover with a bath towel. Keep head warm for 30 to 60 minutes to bring out natural highlights. Dry and style as usual. This will add golden highlights to brown hair.
Place dried chamomile flowers into a mesh strainer over a pan of boiling water. Breathe the steam deeply to ease respiratory symptoms.
Children under 18 should use half of the recommended adult dose.
To relieve colic use 1 – 2 ounces of unsweetened chamomile tea daily.
- Tea: pour 1 cup boiling water over 2-3 heaping tablespoons of dried flowers, steep 10-15 minutes. Drink 3-4 times daily between meals.
- Tincture: (1:5, 45% alcohol) use 1-3 ml (100-150 drops) three times daily in a cup of hot water.
- Capsules: 300-400 mg three times daily.
- Gargle/mouthwash: make the tea above and let it cool. Gargle as often as desired. You can also make an oral rinse of 10-15 drops of chamomile extract in 100ml warm water. This may be used three times daily.
While chamomile is considered to be a safe herb, some people may experience allergic reactions such as hay fever, sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. It may worsen asthma symptoms, so those with asthma should not use it. Those with allergies to asters, daisies, chrysanthemums, and ragweed may also have reactions to chamomile, as they are related.
Pregnant women should take care in using chamomile. It is a uterine stimulator and can cause contractions. Drinking large amounts of chamomile tea with high concentrations of the herb may cause vomiting.
Other possible interactions include:
- Blood thinning medications – chamomile may increase risk of bleeding when taken with warfarin.
- Sedative – chamomile can increase the effects of drugs that have a sedative effect, including anticonvulsants – Dilantin and Depakote; barbituates; tranquilizers – Xanax and Valium; insomnia treatments – Ambien, Sonata, Rozerem; antidepressants – Elavil; and alcohol.
- Herbs like kava, catnip, and valerian root.
- Other medications – because chamomile is broken down by certain enzymes in the liver, it can interact with other medications that are also broken down by the same enzymes, such as: Saldane, statins (medications which reduce cholesterol, such as Lipitor and Xetia); birth control pills; and some antifungal drugs.
Disclaimer: We are not medical professionals. This article is for informational purposes only and not intended as a replacement for medical advice. We always recommend that our readers seek the advice of a licensed physician for any medical condition. Pregnant women should ALWAYS seek the advice of their obstetricians before using any medicine, whether prescription, over the counter, or herbal alternatives.