Wednesday, April 23, 2008

German Chamomile - Matricaria recutita (Medicinal Herbs)

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), also spelled Camomile, is an annual plant of the sunflower family Asteraceae. Synonyms are: Chamomilla chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita (accepted name according to the Flora Europaea), Matricaria chamomilla, and Matricaria suaveolens.

It usually grows near populated areas all over Europe and temperate Asia. It is widely introduced in temperate North America and Australia. As the seeds need open soil to survive, it often grows near roads, around landfills and in cultivated fields as a weed.

Other names include Wild Chamomile, Hungarian Chamomile, and Scented Mayweed.

The branched stem is erect and smooth and grows to a height of 15-60 cm. The long and narrow leaves are bipinnate or tripinnate.

The flowers are borne in paniculate capitula. The white ray florets are furnished with a ligule, while the disc florets are yellow. The hollow receptacle is swollen and lacks scales. This property distinguished German Chamomile from Corn Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis), which has a receptacle with scales. The flowers have a strong, aromatic smell, and bloom in early to mid summer.

Herbalism

German Chamomile is used medicinally against sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It can be taken as an herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea. For a sore stomach, some recommend taking a cup every morning without food for two to three months. It is also used as a mouthwash against oral mucositis. It has acaricidal properties against certain mites, such as Psoroptes cuniculi. The primary active ingredient of the essential oil from German Chamomile is bisabolol.

The active ingredients are essential oils, notably chamazulene, flavonoids and coumarin.

Chamomile is also used cosmetically, primarily to make a rinse for blonde hair.

Possible side effects

Chamomile is a relative of ragweed and can cause allergy symptoms and can cross-react with ragweed pollen in individuals with ragweed allergies. It is also a coumarin and should be avoided by anyone taking blood thinners.

While extremely rare, very large doses of Chamomile may cause nausea and vomiting. Even more rare, rashes may occur.

Herbal Tea

Chamomile is one of the most widely used flowers for herbal tea. Chamomile Tea is so popular, it is found in most grocery stores in the tea aisle. It is used as a mild sedative, and is good for insomnia as well as many other nervous conditions. It is nervine and sedative especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time. Except for the small risk of allergy, Chamomile is also one of the safest herbs to use.

Chamomile flowers are used in alternative medicine as an anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, nervine, stomachic, tonic, vasodilatory. The anti-inflammatory properties make it good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings. Additional uses in herbal medicine include an antispasmodic for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, and a very mild but efficient laxative. Milder tea in large doses is given throughout the day for fevers, sore throats, the aches and pains due to colds, flu, and allergies.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Chamomile

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