Chamomile: With its agreeable taste and apple-like aroma, chamomile makes a pleasant tea
for sipping. The very thought of drinking a cup of chamomile tea at night is almost
enough to soothe frazzled nerves and summon sleep. But chamomile’s benefits
don’t end there. Scientists have identified more than a dozen active chemical
compounds within the herb’s daisy-like flowers that not only take the edge off
stress but also soothe stomach upset almost as fast as you can say Pepto-Bismol.
What’s it good for?
• Foot Pain
• Gum Problems
• Inflammatory Bowel Disease
• Menstrual Problems
A chemical in chamomile called apigenin calms the central nervous system and
makes it easier to fall asleep at night. All wound up with tension? Enjoy a cup of
chamomile tea, or lounge in a warm bath spiked with several cups of chamomile tea, 10 drops of chamomile oil, or a handful or two of chamomile flowers. The
essential oil penetrates the skin and take the edge off anxiety and stress.
More Uses Inside and Out:
Because of its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic powers, chamomile is also very
useful for a number of other minor health complaints.
• Rashes and burns. Chamomile can do good things for your skin as well as
your intestinal tract. When chamomile is applied externally in the form of
chamomile cream or a compress made with strong chamomile tea, it helps cuts,
burns, and rashes heal more quickly. If you have a sunburn, try chamomile oil
(sold in health-food stores) mixed with equal parts almond oil or another neutral
oil to reduce the inflammation that causes itching.
• Skin irritations. In Germany, where herbs are standard treatments in the
medical mainstream, doctors often recommend a chamomile-based cream, called
Kamillosan, for wounds or inflammation caused by eczema, contact allergies, and
post-radiation skin damage. Chamomile oil can be applied in small amounts to
treat skin ailments such as boils.
• Infections. A wash of chamomile kills some of the bacteria and fungi that
cause eye or skin infections. Chamomile tea can be used as a mouthwash to
soothe inflamed gums, help fight gum disease, and speed the healing of mouth
Buying and Using Chamomile:
You can buy chamomile tea bags or look for the dried flowers in health-food
stores. Some people have successfully grown chamomile in their garden by simply
sprinkling the contents of a bag of chamomile tea on the soil. Note that there are
two different chamomile plants: Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), also known as Hungarian chamomile.
While the two plants look almost identical, German chamomile is more popular
and is thought to have greater healing powers.
You might find chamomile cream in health-food stores, but it’s just as easy,
and less expensive, to make your own skin-healing brew. Pour a cup of boiling
water over a heaping tablespoonful of chamomile flowers. Let it steep 10 minutes,
wait until it cools to room temperature, then soak a cloth in the tea and apply it
to a cut, rash, or burn for about five minutes.
A media uproar followed a report in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical
Immunology that chamomile tea might cause a potentially fatal allergic reaction in
people allergic to ragweed. But when scientists looked at the available data, they
were only able to identify a handful of reactions (none of them fatal) to German
chamomile, the variety commonly used in the United States. According to the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration, chamomile is entirely safe. The only people
who should avoid it are those who have already had a severe reaction to ragweed.