What is Chamomile?
Chamomile has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to calm anxiety and settle stomachs. It is best known as an ingredient in herbal tea. The name, chamomile, is derived from the Greek, khamai, meaning “on the ground,” and melon, meaning “apple.”There are two types of chamomile, Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). The Roman variety is the true chamomile but German chamomile is used herbally for almost the same things. The steps for growing Roman chamomile and growing German chamomile are also nearly identical.
How does Chamomile look?
Roman chamomile is also known as Russian chamomile, English chamomile or Chamaemelum nobile is a member of the Asteraceae, or daisy family and has small daisy like flowers with yellow solid centers and white petals, that bloom May to September. The leaves are feathery, light green, are everlasting and somewhat shiny. Because of the creeping roots and compact, mat-like growth of this species it is sometimes called lawn chamomile. It releases a pleasant, apple scent when walked upon, this fragrant evergreen is a garden favorite, it is also called the physician herb because of its beneficial effect on other herbs as a companion in the garden. Blossoms grow singly on long stalks attached to the erect, branching, hairy stems.
German chamomile is a sprawling member of the Asteraceae family, as it closely resembles the Roman chamomile. German Chamomile also known as Matricaria recutita, or Chamomilla recutita is a hardy, self-seeding annual herb. It has been cultivated in Germany to maximize its medicinal properties. The hollow, bright gold cone of the blossom is ringed with numerous white petals. The herb has also been called scented mayweed, and Balder’s eyelashes, after Balder, the Norse God of Light. German chamomile looks similar to Roman chamomile with the differences being that German chamomile grows upright to the height of about 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 cm.) and reseeds annual.
History of Chamomile
Chamomile was revered as one of nine sacred herbs by the ancient Saxons. Saxons are members of the Germanic people that inhabited parts of central and northern Germany from Roman times. The Egyptians valued the herb as a cure for malaria and dedicated chamomile to their sun god, Ra. Two species of this sweet-scented plant, Roman chamomile and German chamomile, have been called the true chamomile because of their similar appearance and medicinal uses. Roman Chamomile was used as a strewing herb during the middle ages to scent the floors and passageways in the home and to deter insects. The Spanish call the herb manzanilla, or “little apple.”
Why do people take chamomile?
Chamomile is considered a safe plant and has been used in many cultures for stomach ailments and as a mild sedative. The aromatic flower heads and leaves of both Roman and German chamomile are used medicinally. The herb acts medicinally as a tonic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anti-allergenic, and sedative. Traditionally, a mild remedy of the herb has been safely used to calm restless children, and to ease colic and teething pain in babies. It is also effective in relieving acid indigestion and abdominal pain, carminative properties relieve intestinal gas, and helps in cases of diarrhea and constipation . The herbal tea can ease symptoms of colds and flu by relieving headache and reducing fever. The herb can soothe burns and scalds, skin rashes , and sores. Chamomile can be used as a gargle for mouth ulcers, as a soothing eye wash for conjunctivitis (pink eye), and as a hair rinse to brighten the hair. The blossoms may also be used as a herbal aromatic treatment, providing a tonic lift with its appealing scent. These uses of chamomile is especially popular among Hispanics living in the southwestern United States, who use the herb at significantly higher levels than the rest of the population.
Benefits of Chamomile on skin
The natural plant polyphenols, chemical compounds, contain antioxidants. Antioxidants are agents which fight free radicals. Free radicals are produced in the natural cell aging and death, which occurs in everyday life. Free radicals are responsible for a number of health conditions. By attacking them, antioxidants in polyphenols can speed up the healing process in scars. They can protect against the damage that causes wrinkles and skin breakouts. This means that chamomile is useful for helping skin irritations, also the cosmetic benefits in balancing natural oils, tightening pores and hydrating.
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