When I think of chamomile, I think of restful sleep, calm babies, and settled kids. I think of warm cups of tea and relaxation. Chamomile is definitely all of that … but it’s also so much more!
Let’s take an in depth look at chamomile and get to know this lovely botanical.
|Botanical names:||Matricaria chamomilla (German chamomile)|
|Chamaemelum nobile, formerly Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile)|
Nervous system, Digestive system, Circulation, Uterus
Chamomile is a well-known herb often associated with relaxing children for sleep. A friend to parents, indeed! Its uses for children extend far beyond a restful night’s sleep, though.
Chamomile for Colic
Chamomile is a traditional remedy for colic and still proves useful in our modern world. Having the first few months of life with a precious new baby spoiled by incessant crying is … trying, to say the least. Thankfully, chamomile can help.
Prepare fresh chamomile tea, allow it to completely cool, and give the unhappy baby one teaspoonful. Because it is antispasmodic, the chamomile will relax the infant’s stomach and help her to expel any gas.
Dr. Stengler recommends giving additional 1/2 to 1 teaspoon doses every 10 minutes until the baby has settled down.
Besides being relaxing and helping a child to fall asleep, drinking a half cup of chamomile tea sweetened with honey at bedtime can help prevent nightmares in children prone to them.
Cold, Flu, & Infection
Because it increases the immune system’s ability to destroy viruses and bacteria, chamomile is helpful during colds, flu, and other infections. It’s best to drink the chamomile tea hot since that will promote perspiration, which helps to draw the virus or bacteria out of the body. Combining chamomile with peppermint and ginger will be even more effective for treating colds and flu.
Chamomile also improves appetite, making it beneficial for children and adults who’ve been sick and aren’t eating well enough to recover.
Chamomile for IBS
Chamomile also soothes and calms the digestive system of adults. For those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), spasmodic abdominal pain can be a part of daily life. Whether these painful spasms are the cause of or caused by stress, the two are often found together. In comes chamomile’s wonderful antispasmodic and calmative properties again….
Chamomile has an affinity for both the digestive system and the nervous system. When taken as a tea, it speedily goes to work on both systems – calming, soothing, and relaxing. Along with relaxing the smooth muscles of the digestive system and helping to ease stress, chamomile will help the body expel gas and prevent the buildup of more gas in the intestine.
Drinking a cup of warm chamomile tea with each meal is most helpful for IBS and other digestive complaints.
Chamomile for Healing Ulcers
I know firsthand how painful and all-consuming stomach ulcers can be. I’ve spent many sleepless nights pacing the floor and crying from the pain, though I’m happy to say it’s been a long time since I experienced a night like that.
Chamomile has long been used by herbalists to treat ulcers, and modern research has confirmed its benefit in both soothing the discomfort and healing the ulcers.
This method of treatment comes from The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies:
Prepare chamomile tea by pouring two cups boiling water over two teaspoons dried chamomile flowers. Allow to steep for ten minutes.
Drink half a cup of the tea and lie down on your back for 15 minutes. Drink another half cup, and lie down on your left side for 15 minutes. Repeat this two more times, first lying on your stomach and then your right side.
By allowing the tea to spend 15 minutes in direct contact with each side of the stomach, the chamomile’s healing properties have time to do their work wherever needed. This treatment should be repeated daily for at least two months to achieve complete healing.
Chamomile for Eczema, Rashes, and Other Skin Disorders
Chamomile is generally soothing and also anti-inflammatory. Many skin disorders, like eczema, involve inflammation, redness, and pain. Apply chamomile topically for soothing pain relief and healing. Try any of these methods:
Chamomile Tea Compress
Prepare unsweetened chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and then thoroughly wet a soft cloth with the tea. Use the cloth to gently rinse the affected area. You can also lay the moistened cloth on the skin and leave it in place for up to 15 minutes. Do this 3-4 times a day, and make a fresh batch of tea each day.
Though the tea compress will probably be less messy, a poultice is another option. We’ll share details on making a poultice soon, but following these simple instructions will work for now: Blend equal parts of fresh or dried chamomile flowers and very hot, pure water in your blender. You want a paste of chamomile.
Wet a soft cloth with pure, hot water and apply a layer of the chamomile paste to it. Apply this poultice with the herb in direct contact with the affected skin.
A poultice needs to be kept hot and moist. If you have a helper, use two cloths and interchange them as one cools off. If you’re alone, you could wrap the applied poultice in plastic wrap to keep it hot and moist. Keep it in place until it’s completely cooled off.
Of course, if your particular skin condition is aggravated by heat, a hot poultice is not a good idea. Use the cool chamomile tea compress instead.
For times when you’re on the go and a compress or poultice isn’t feasible, a chamomile salve can be helpful. Use the instructions here for How to Make an Herbal Salve. Adding lavender essential oil will give some additional soothing properties, and the two fragrances blend nicely together.
Chamomile to Relieve Menstrual Cramps
A cup of cold chamomile tea can help relieve menstrual cramps by both relaxing the uterine muscle and increasing the menstrual flow. For some unknown reason, the cold tea works better for this purpose than the hot tea. A hot water bottle applied to the lower abdomen can give some soothing warmth.
You may also want to check out a surefire treatment for menstrual cramps that I’ve been using for several months.
German or Roman?
Now that you know a dozen ways chamomile can help your family, which kind should you use? German chamomile or Roman chamomile? Both types are interchangeable medicinally – you’ll get the same excellent results no matter which you choose.
However, according to Dr. Christopher, German chamomile is more potent and, according to Dr. Stengler, German chamomile is less likely than Roman chamomile to be contaminated with pesticides and other pollutants. For these reasons, I use and recommend German chamomile.
One Small Warning
If you’re allergic to ragweed, be careful with chamomile. Since the two plants are in the same family, chamomile may cause reactions in people who are allergic to ragweed.
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Christopher, John R., Dr. School of Natural Healing. Christopher Publications, Inc., 2014.
Green, James. The Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual. Crossing Press, 2000.
Stengler, Mark, ND. The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies Medical Doctors Don’t Know. Prentice Hall Press, 2010.
Ritchason, Jack, N.D. The Little Herb Encyclopedia: The Handbook of Nature’s Remesies for a Healthier Life. Woodland Health Books, 1995.
This information has not been evaluated by the FDA and is intended only for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease. Always consult a healthcare professional before making significant changes to your healthcare routine.
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