Calming Chamomile: Herbal Monograph of the Week

Growing chamomile in the garden is easy and fragrant

Plucking the heads off my chamomile plants this summer, I found its gentle floral scent relaxing after my long commute. Even my grandpa took a handful for after-dinner tea! This popular herb can help soothe overtired, frazzled nerves, or bring relief after a decadent meal. 

Calming chamomile’s profile:

Matricaria Recutita is part of the Asteraceae family.

Actions anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, carminative (dispels gas), sedative

Parts Used flowers and leaf

Safety It can cause an allergic reaction if a person is allergic to the daisy family.

Uses

Calming chamomile can be used to soothe the nervous system and the digestive system. Safe from infant to senior, this gentle herb can be used in a variety of ways. Externally, it can also help soothe the skin, and its antibacterial actions help with wound healing.

Preparations

Typically, chamomile is prepared as tea. Rosemary Gladstar recommends steeping 20 minutes or longer for a stronger tea or only 5-10 minutes if you’re looking for a relaxing cup. Just remember the longer you steep it, the more bitter it will taste.

But chamomile can be used in many other ways as well! Tina Sams applies warmed chamomile tea bags for eye sties. It can also be used as a gargle. I like to make chamomile tinctures for digestion, and I am infusing it in oil right now. You can also use the dried flowers in sleep pillows or other sachets.

Harvesting fresh chamomile flowers in the summer.

Growing, Harvesting, or Buying

Plant by seed in the early spring, and you’ll get blossoms all summer long. This is a self-seeding annual, so if you leave some flowers, the chamomile will return the following year. My grandfather started our patch indoors over the winter, something I’ve never had good fortune with, and we ended up with 2 feet tall chamomile still giving off flowers into August!

If you have a small patch like me, handpick the blossoms. While it is time-consuming, it smells so good and is rather relaxing! HerbPharm uses modified blueberry rakes, which look fantastic.

Don’t have the time, space, or desire to grow your own patch of calming chamomile? There’s plenty of ways to buy! 

Chamomile tea is readily available at your local market. I like Traditional Medicinals, but also take a peek down the international aisle since it is usually there.

You can get dried chamomile flowers in larger quantities from an herb company. I think I bought my last pound from Mountain Rose Herbs. Be aware COVID-19 has disrupted their shipping schedule. You can also try Frontier Coop

Recipes and Research

Two chamomile recipes I found and tempted by:

Meanwhile, I’m also interested in understanding more about the flavonoids found in chamomile. One study pointed out how chamomile prepared as tea contains high levels of the flavonoid apigenin-7-O-glucoside, which is being researched for its antifungal and anti-inflammatory actions. 

Last week I shared my calendula monograph. Next week, instead of a monograph, I’ll share a simple recipe that combines marshmallow, calendula, and chamomile. 

Do you have a favorite way to enjoy calming chamomile?

Making a fresh chamomile tincture in the garden

Sources

  1. Gladstar R. Herbal Healing for Women: Simple Home Remedies for Women of All Ages. New York, NY: Fireside; 1993.
  2. Sams T, Cho A. Herbal Medicine for Emotional Healing: 101 Natural Remedies for Anxiety, Depression, Sleep, and More. Emeryville, CA: Rockridge Press; 2020.
  3. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377 

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