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 anti-carcinogenic 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 in 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. It’s surprisingly resilient and can withstand the most unfriendly conditions. 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. The most common varieties of chamomile are:
1) Matriarca recutita (German chamomile) or wild chamomile.
2) Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile) or garden chamomile.
Both varieties can be used in herbal infusions for their therapeutic properties.
Considering the extensive use of pesticides nowadays and high pollution levels, it may be best to avoid picking chamomile that grows naturally in fields or from the side of the road because the plant is known to absorb environmental toxins. Luckily, chamomile is not demanding at all and one can easily grow it themselves and enjoy a savory, calming cup of tea made from uncontaminated flowers. But remember that overuse of pesticides in your own garden may also impact the quality of chamomile plants there and this may, in turn, reduce the plant’s therapeutic potential.
What are the health benefits and uses of chamomile? Chamomile is a medicinal herb, meaning it is a plant with therapeutic potential. It boasts both internal and external uses and its therapeutic action is mainly aimed at soothing and disinfecting. Herbal infusions are the most common preparations and are made by steeping dried chamomile flowers into hot water and leaving them to infuse. Chamomile tea has a pleasant taste with delicate herbal flavors and a faint bitter aftertaste. Other types of preparations may be used for various purposes. Overall, the herb has relaxing, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties.
Benefits and uses
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 strong soothing action on the stomach. A warm cup of chamomile tea now and then can efficiently soothe stomach aches and even improve digestion by supporting bile release. Additionally, the herb can prove useful in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome as well as gastritis upset. Also, chamomile is usually paired with peppermint when treating an upset stomach or attempting to stop diarrhea.
3) Thirdly, chamomile is a great natural remedy for hemorrhoids due to its strong anti-inflammatory action. Special ointments containing chamomile extracts or compresses can be applied locally in order to reduce inflammation and provide relief from pain and itching in hemorrhoids disease. Even more, ancient peoples are said to have used chamomile poultices to speed up wound healing and reduce infection risks.
4) Chamomile exhibits 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 and cell damage.
5) Chamomile is a beauty trick as old as the world. From ancient times, women have been using chamomile flowers in cosmetics. For instance, they would lighten their hair color by washing their hair chamomile infusions. Chamomile tea bags are also used to improve the appearance of dark circles under the eyes. Last but not least, in the past women would take chamomile baths for a softer, lighter skin. Nowadays, the herb is best appreciated for its soothing properties, being a great natural remedy for sensitive skin.
Chamomile side effects
Despite this wide variety of health benefits, chamomile is to be avoided in certain situations. For example, 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 a 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 be allergic reaction to chamomile and other herbs in the same family. Allergy can be triggered by pollen or by ingestion or topical use of preparations of the herb. An existing allergy to other daisy plants or multiple pollen allergies increase the risk of an allergic reaction to chamomile. If you suspect an allergy to the herb, you should consider having a skin prick test before using it in any form.
Overall, chamomile is a medicinal herb with varied therapeutic properties and strong effects. Its mild sedating action serves as a calming agent, helping relieve anxiety, reduce stress and promote restful sleep. Its soothing effects make it a good choice for stomach upset. A cup of warm chamomile tea before going to bed is the prerequisite for a good night’s sleep, provided of course you are not allergic.