Common Names: German Chamomile, Single Chamomile, Roman Chamomile, Pineapple Weed
Botanical Name: Matricaria chamomilla, M. recutita, Chamaemelum nobile
Plant Family: Asteraceae, Composite Family
Parts Used: Flower Heads
Actions: Calmative, nervine, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anodyne, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, carminative (Systems affected: Liver, Stomach, Lungs)
Habitat: Roman and German Chamomile is not native to the US but is commonly found in gardens. Pineapple weed is our local weed that shares similar medicinal qualities as German and Roman Chamomile. Pineapple weed grows in disturbed areas, lives on the edge, or compact pathways. This plant loves full sun and well-drained soil (but it can be compact!). Depending on the variety of Chamomile it can be a perennial or an annual.
Collection: I collect Chamomile flowers just as they begin to bloom in June or July. I recommend pinching the yellow disc flower parts of Chamomile and taking a deep breath. Its aroma is sweet and soothing.
German Chamomile compared to Roman Chamomile: The easiest differentiation between the two most common varieties of chamomile is that Roman Chamomile spreads perennially by rhizome and German Chamomile is a single branching annual. Both varieties grow to be about 1 foot or so, with the German Chamomile standing more erect and the Roman Chamomile growing with semi prostate branches. The main difference between these two types of chamomile really affects the grower… Do you want a self-seeding annual that can be quite unruly? Or do you want a contained, hardy grass-like chamomile that thrives anywhere from rock gardens to wetland?
Nervousness & Irritability
Lesley Tierra calls chamomile the “Calm Child Herb”. It has high assimilable calcium that calms the nervous system and digestive system. It helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth, hence it is a great aid for teething and irritable children. Give them a glass of chamomile tea, or let them suck on the tea bag to relieve any irritable tension.
Whether you drink a tea infused with Chamomile or take drops of a tincture or even a Flower Remedy, you’ll find that Chamomile quiets, relaxes and centers a person. It provides a sense of well-being, nourishment, support and security. Clinical studies have shown that people who drink a cup of Chamomile tea before bed have a deep, restful sleep. This herb calms the body, relaxes the nerves and aids digestion.
Chamomile makes an excellent treatment for nausea, vomiting, indigestion and loss of appetite. It both stimulates digestive secretions while relaxing the muscles of the gut, and together it helps maintain and normalize digestive function.
Menstrual Cramps/ Back Pain/ Inflammation
Chamomile is an effective anti-inflammatory. Taken internally, it can help adults suffering from gastrointestinal spasms, menstrual cramps, back pain and diarrhea. The flowers have high amounts of azulene, which is a volatile oil that serves as an anti-inflammatory and antifever agents. It’s useful for arthritic pains and any other joint inflammation.
Chamomile is most commonly used in our household as an eye wash. We make a loose-flower tea bag and steep it in boiled water for 15 minutes. Before bed, we place the tea bag on each eye and perhaps drink the tea (separately) while we are at it. The following morning, we awake with a significant amount of “eye-boogers” or “sleep” which greatened due to our pre-bed eye soak. The chamomile helped cleanse our eyes, pulling out any dust, particles, irritants. Chamomile tea compresses can also relieve irritated inflammation of conjunctivitis, or pink eye.
Midwives & Mothers
The mild and effective sedative qualities of chamomile make this one both a mother and child’s go-to green ally. A chamomile tea can be given to young children, including babies with immature digestive system induced colic. If you are giving chamomile tea to an infant, dilute the full strength tea to half and administer through 1-2 dropper fulls. The dry flowers can also be used in relaxing postpartum teas and a baby’s first bath.
A Kid’s Herb Book for Children of All Ages by Lesley Tierra
Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses by Deni Brown
Medicinal Herbs; A Beginner’s Guide by Rosemary Gladstar