Chamomile

Chamomile (Huang Chu Ju)

Chamomile (Huang Chu Ju)

Botanical Name: Marticaria recutita (German Chamomile), Chamaemelum nobile (Roman Chamomile), M matricaroids (Manzanilla).

Chamomile is documented as being one of the most popular teas sold in the U.S. and Europe. It is a gentle but highly effective herb famous as a cure-all but best known for soothing digestion, aiding sleep and helping to sooth skin rashes and bruises. This herb is often used in magical formulas to help protect the body, mind and spirit from negative energies and forces. The flowers can be both warming and cooling.

Below is an overview of Chamomile, combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Chamomile.

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Western

Western Name: Chamomile (Camomile)

Also Known As: Mayweed, True Chamomile, Sweet False Chamomile, Plant Physician, Earth Apple

Organs/Systems: Skin, Lungs, Digestion, Immunity, Nerves

Key Western Actions & Medicinal Uses: Anti-inflammatory, Antimicrobial, Anticancer, Anticoagulant, Antispasmodic, Tonic, Anodyne, Carminative, Sedative, Laxative, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue.

Eastern

Pin Yin: Huang Chu Ju

Also Known As: N/A

Meridians: Lungs, Heart, Stomach

Key TCM Actions & Medicinal Uses: Moves Qi/Releases Qi Stagnation: emotional upsets, anxiety, headache, nightmares, depression, irregular menses with clotting, PMS, stomach ulcers. Tonifies the Liver: poor appetite, hypochondriac pain, swollen abdomen. Stops Inflammation/Soothes Pain: sore throat, cramps, stomach spasms, wounds, bruises, skin rashes.  Strengthens the Stomach: nausea, aids digestion, promotes smooth bowels.  Releases to the Exterior/Clears Heat/Stops Cough: colds, flus, fevers, asthma, bronchitis, chills and fevers at the Shao Yang and Shao Yin stages.  Moves Blood/Calms Shen: menstrual cramps, difficult menses, insomnia, anxiety, lowers blood pressure, palpations.

Basic Habitat/Botany:

The term chamomile refers to several species of daisy-like plants, which are all members of the Asteraceae family. Roman chamomile is a perennial plant that grows close to the ground with small flowers.  German chamomile is an annual plant with large blossoms that can grow up to three feet tall. Roman chamomile has terminal single heads flowers with white florets and a yellow center.  German chamomile has an erect stem with finely divided feathery leaves.  The terminal flower heads have white florets and yellow central disc florets.  The whole plant is aromatic.

German and Roman Chamomile are native to many countries in Europe and are now cultivated in many countries around the world.  German chamomile is said to be native to Spain, and then was brought into the rest of Europe. Chamomile prefers full sun and sandy moist soil.  It is often found along roads and needs a fair amount of water and a short cool season.  It is most often grown in Argentina, Belgium, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia.  Manzanilla grows in the deserts of Mexico and the Southwest U.S.

Chamomile (Huang Chu Ju) Parts Most Frequently Used: Flower, Whole Plant

Flavors/Temps: Roman – Bitter, Aromatic. German – Sweet, Aromatic.

Caution: Not for anyone allergic to flowers in the Asteraceae family.

History/Folklore: Chamomile has been used since ancient times by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. In the Middle Ages it was popular for treating colds, fevers, inflammations and nausea. The herb can be used internally or externally.

The Egyptians offered the flowers to their Sun God Ra, and the Germans refered to the herb as “capable of anything.”

The name “chamomile” derives from the Greek “chamoemelon” meaning “earth apple” because its fragrance resembles apples. The Latin name “Matericaria” derives from “matrix” meaning “womb” or  “mater” meaning “mother”, a reference to the herbs ability to aid female complaints.

Manzanilla, also called pinapple weed, has similar uses as the German and Roman chamomiles. In Mexican folklore it is used to soothe the stomach, ease digestion and support strong lungs preventing asthma and allergies. The Spanish wine flavored with manzanilla, means “little apples”.  Its Welsh name is “camri” meaning footsteps or walk, as Roman chamomile grows so close to the ground.

In the Middle Ages chamomile flowers were strewn about the floor and home to sweeten the air.

Culpeper said, “A decoction made of Camomile, and drank, taketh away all pains and stiches in the side…The flowers of Camomile beaten, and made into balls with oil, drive away all sorts of agues.”

The Mayans make a tea with orange and lime leaves to lift the spirit.  Before refrigeration, meat was immersed in a chamomile infusion to prevent it from spoiling.

Native American Indians have used the various chamomiles in a variety of ways, often making use of the whole plant.  Different tribes had different purposes that included teas for stomach bloating, regulating the bowels and making perfume from the crushed dry flowers.

A related species, A. cotula, commonly called Stinking Chamomile or May Weed, was once widely used in the Unites States to promote sweating in chronic rheumatism.

In China, chrysanthemum would be the flower that is most similar to how we use chamomile in the West. Our chamomile is not a plant traditionally used in Chinese Medicine, while chrysanthemums are.

To extract the oil from the plants most manufacturers use steam distillation.  Roman chamomile contains more oils than the German variety. The whole plant can be used but the flowers are the most potent. The flowers are harvested when the plant is in full bloom. Most of the medicinal properties are found in the blue volatile oil contained in the flowers.

Chamomile is known to be an aid to other plants in the garden as well.  It is called the “plant’s physician” as it helps cure plants that is planted near, also keeping them free of insects and pests.  Even bees do not like the scent of chamomile and will not go near it.  It is also used as a protection plant for people.  By sprinkling the oil around doors and windows negative energy is prevented from entering the home. Roman chamomile can be planted instead of grass as it can withstand being walked over and will in fact, release its fragrance as it is stepped on.

Chamomile has been used in hair shampoos for its ability to lighten blonde highlights in hair, and in lotions and creams for its fragrance and skin soothing abilities.

Chamomile is used as a flavoring in the liqueurs Benedictine and vermouth.  The dried flowers can be used as incense to help promote sleep.  And studies have shown that the plant may even aid kidney functions.

Chamomile is very safe so it is often used to treat children for restlessness, poor sleep and upset stomachs.  In homeopathy it is used to treat childhood toothaches, earaches, colic and headaches.

Chamomile is a symbol for energy in action or adversity. It is an herb of the sun and is therefore associated with regeneration, healing and protection. The apple, which it is sometimes said to smell like was a sun plant totem for Ancient Greeks. For these reasons it was planted on graves as a symbol of rebirth, in the same way that the sun rises and is reborn each morning.

Chamomile was a sacred herb of the midsummer festivals and was thrown onto the festival fires, ritual cups for drinking and in garlands used to decorate the ceremonial areas.

Key Constituents:

Apigenin (a Flavone), Alpha-bisabolol, Sesquiterpenes, Terpenoids, Flavonoids, Coumarins, Herbiarin, Umbellliferone, Phenylpropanois, Chlorogenic acid, Caffeic acid, Volatile oils.

Did you know?

Confirmed by Research

Research has confirmed that chamomile is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, relaxant, antispasmodic, sedating and anti-allergenic.

Facts

Chamomile Oil Uses

Chamomile oil is best used for relaxation and to help induce sleep. It is also used to help clean wounds.

Fun fact!

Good Luck

Associated with being able to attract money, gamblers will wash their hands with chamomile to insure good luck.

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