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Herbal Insights: Chamomile

Spring is well and truly here and I am sure you are noticing all the colours and smells of the flowers. I felt like this was a good time to tell you about one of my most widely prescribed herbs, the humble Chamomile.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Botanical Family: Asteraceae

Parts used: Flower

Other Common Names: German Chamomile, Wild Chamomile, Matricaria

Traditional Use: In traditional Western herbal medicine Chamomile flowers had two main uses. The first is as a calming agent for the nervous system, the second as a anti-inflammatory to the digestive tract. It is used for nervous conditions involving the gastrointestinal tract, like flatulence, nervous diarrhoea and travel sickness. Chamomile was widely used in children for nervousness and teething problems, indicating it is a very gentle and safe herb. It was also used externally for haemorrhoids, mastitis, and leg ulcers.

Main Actions: Anti-inflammatory, carminative (reduces gas), spasmolytic (supressed muscle spasm), mild sedative, nervine

Main Uses:

  • Digestive spasm and inflammation, including colic, gastritis, peptic ulcers, reflux

  • Digestive weakness caused by gas &/or nervousness, including bloating, food sensitivities, IBS

  • Restlessness, anxiety, stress, insomnia

  • Painful periods and PMS

  • Teething problems in children

  • Topically for haemorrhoids, leg ulcers, eczema, mouth ulcers, wounds and skin irritations

Clinical Research for Digestive Complaints

A study of 104 patients with nonspecific gastrointestinal complains were treated with Chamomile extract in hot water (25 drops 4 x day) for six weeks. Symptoms that were assessed include: stomach and abdominal pain, burping, fullness, heartburn, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.

At the end of the trial symptoms has completely resolved for 44.2% of the patients. The success rate for single symptoms ranged from 61% for loss of appetite to 84.5% for stomach and abdominal pain and 88.7% for nausea.

Chamomile at Home

I most often prescribe Chamomile extract but the humble Chamomile tea is also a great option! You can easily grow Chamomile flowers in a pot and add them to hot water for an infusion.

Chamomile tea is a great option for nervous and restless children, especially with a little bit of honey.

My first harvest of home grown chamomile. I added this to some hot water with some local honey.

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