German Chamomile

German Chamomile Identification:
German chamomile is a southern European annual plant found wild along roadsides, in fields, and cultivated in gardens. The round, downy, hollow, furrowed stem may rise upright to a height of 16 inches. The leaves are pale green, bipinnate, sharply incised, and sessile. The flower heads are like those of Roman chamomile, and the white ray-flowers are often bent
down to make the disk-flowers even more prominent.
Family: Compositae (Sunflower family)
Other Names: Chamomilla, Wild chamomile, Matricaria, Anthemis, Ground apple
Flowers: May – October
Parts Used: Flowers
Habitat: Locally abundant. Most of the eastern U.S. (Alien)
History:
German chamomile and Roman chamomile are botanically unrelated, but they both produce the same light blue oil used in healing since ancient times.
The Egyptians used it to treat fever, particularly the recurring fevers of malaria.
The Greek physician Dioscorides and the Roman naturalist Pliny recommended chamomile to treat headaches and kidney, liver, and bladder problems. India’s ancient Ayurvedic physicians used it similarly.
Germans have used chamomile since the dawn of history for digestive upsets and as a menstruation promoter and treatment for menstrual cramps.
Seventeenth century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended chamomile for fevers, digestive problems, aches, pains, jaundice, kidney stones, congestive heart failure and to promote menstruation.
British and German immigration introduced both chamomiles into North America, though most of the chamomile grown here today is the German variety.
Today chamomile is one of the nation’s best-selling herbs. It is used as a tea, by itself or in blends. Its apple aroma is the fragrance in many herbal skin-care products. And it has been used in shampoos since the days of the Vikings because it adds luster to blond hair.
Medicinal Properties:
Properties: Stomachic, antispasmodic, tonic, stimulant (volatile oil), carminative, diaphoretic, nervine, emmenagogue, sedative.
Main Uses: Contemporary herbalists recommend chamomile externally to aid in wound healing and treat inflammation, and internally for fever, digestive upsets, anxiety, and insomnia.
Dozens of studies have supported chamomile’s traditional use as a digestive aid. Several chemicals in chamomile oil appear to have a relaxing action on the smooth muscle lining of the digestive tract. Chamomile relaxes not only the digestive tract but other smooth muscles, such as the uterus, as well. Chamomile’s antispasmodic properties support its age-old use to soothe menstrual cramps and to lessen the possibility of premature labor.
Chamomile may also be used as a tranquilizer, for arthritis, to prevent wound infections and to speed up the healing process.
Preparation And Dosages:
Infusion: Use 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons of flowers per cup of boiling water. Steep 10 to 20 minutes. Drink up to 3 cups a day.
Tincture: Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to three times a day.
Note: Weak infusions of chamomile may be given cautiously to children under the age of 2 for colic.
Cultivation:
German chamomile grows easily when sown in spring after danger of frost has passed. Scatter the tiny seeds in well-prepared beds, then gently tamp down. Seedlings up to 2 inches tall transplant well. Taller plants do not.
German chamomile prefers sandy, well-drained soil in partially shaded gardens and shrivels in full sun. It flowers at about six weeks. The flowers last for several weeks,, and if some of the flowers are left unpicked, the plant will sow itself.
After harvesting, dry the flowers and store them in sealed containers to preserve their volatile oil.

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