Properties and Benefits of Chamomile: Traditionally, chamomile (or camomile) has been used in herbal infusions as a natural way of improving the quality of one’s sleep. However, this plain daisy-like herb boasts many other great health benefits and special properties that one should take into account before deciding to sit down and enjoy a hot cup of chamomile tea. In addition to having mild sedative properties, chamomile is an excellent natural relaxant.
It has calming effects on both the nervous and the digestive system. Moreover, it boasts antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties as well as exerts a potent anti-inflammatory action. Its action is both internal and external. Infusions help improve nervous system and digestive health, stress coping mechanisms and mood as well as improve sleep by relieving insomnia, while topical application helps lighten skin, offers relief for sensitive skin and acts as a mild local antibacterial.
Chamomile is a very low-maintenance plant of the daisy family. It can suddenly pop up in fields, gardens, farmsteads, near a country road or in your own backyard and thrive without being offered any special treatment.
The most common varieties of chamomile are:
1) Matriarca recutita (German chamomile) or wild chamomile.
2) Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile) or garden chamomile.
All chamomile varieties can be used in herbal infusions and can efficiently induce a pleasant state of relaxation. Very important: considering the vast use of pesticides on almost all crops nowadays, it may be best to avoid consuming wild varieties that grow naturally in fields. Overuse of pesticides and other similar poisons may influence the quality of adjacent patches of chamomile plants and this may, in turn, have negative effects on one’s health. Luckily, chamomile plants are not pretentious at all and one can easily grow them in a garden and thus safely enjoy a savory, calming cup of tea.
Chamomile plants are a beautiful combination of a golden-yellow round center crowned by delicate, elongated, white petals. Simply charming! In addition to this, infusions made from dried flowers provide a wide range of health benefits.
1) First of all, chamomile tea has calming effects on the nervous system and can induce a pleasant state of relaxation, reduce stress and restore restful sleep. If you are feeling tired, stressed out and crave a good night’s sleep, try drinking a cup of warm chamomile tea before going to bed and you will surely notice an improvement in the quality of your sleep.
2) Secondly, chamomile infusions have a potent calming effect on the stomach. Even more, a warm cup of chamomile tea now and then can efficiently soothe stomach aches and even improve digestion by supporting bile release. Additionally, chamomile can prove useful in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as gastritis problems. Also, chamomile is usually paired with peppermint when treating an upset stomach.
3) Thirdly, chamomile is a great remedy for hemorrhoid problems due to its potent anti-inflammatory action. Special ointments containing chamomile extracts or compresses can be applied locally in order to reduce inflammation and provide relief for hemorrhoids. Even more, ancient peoples are said to have used chamomile poultices to speed up the wound healing process.
4) Chamomile is believed to posses antioxidant, antimutagenic as well as anticarcinogenic properties. Preliminary studies show that chamomile extract can stop cancer causing mutations and actively provide protection against oxidative stress.
5) Chamomile is a beauty trick as old as the world. From ancient times, women have been using chamomile flowers for different aesthetic purposes. For instance, women would lighten their hair color by washing it periodically with chamomile infusions. Chamomile tea bags are also used to reduce dark circles under the eyes. Last but not least, in the past women would take chamomile baths in order to get a softer, lighter skin. Nowadays, chamomile is best appreciated for its soothing properties, being a great natural remedy for sensitive skin.
Despite this wide variety of health benefits, chamomile is to be avoided in certain situations. When is chamomile dangerous for human health? First of all, all pregnant women are advised to avoid herbal teas in general, chamomile included. Herbal teas can cause uterine contractions which may lead to premature labor or even cause miscarriages. Secondly, people suffering from clotting disorders should know that chamomile contains a substance called coumarin which can interfere with blood thinning medication.
Thirdly, some people may have an allergic reaction to chamomile and other herbs of the same family. If you exhibit even mild allergy symptoms to chamomile or any of its relatives, contact your doctor immediately and consider taking a skin prick test. Skin prick testing will reveal if you are allergic to certain foods and possibly save your life.
Overall, chamomile has a beneficial impact on human health. Due to its calming properties, it can soothe stomach problems and help make the stress of the day simply fade away. A cup of warm chamomile tea before going to bed is the prerequisite for a good night’s sleep and regular consumption is believed to enhance our immune system’s response to external threats.