Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla)

2014

Medical Uses

This herb is used internally for the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system and for its anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and antispasmodic effects. It is used externally for skin and mucous membrane inflammation and hemorrhoids. Chamomile is used for babies to help with sleep, colic, and teething.

Historical Uses

Chamomile is also known as scented mayweed and German chamomile. Many cultures associated chamomile with healing. In the well-known story, Peter Rabbit’s mother gave Peter chamomile tea to help relieve his stomachache. Chamomile has been used for stomach discomforts, colic, and teething. It also has been used to promote relaxation.

Growth

Chamomile is an annual herb of the aster or composite family. Easy to grow in the garden, chamomile likes acidic soil, lots of sun, and good drainage. It grows to about 3 feet tall and has small daisylike flowers. The leaves are very fragile and feathery.

Chamomile: Part Used

• Flower heads

Major Chemical Compounds

• Bisabolol

• Chamazulene

Flavonoids: quercetin and apigenin

• Volatile oils ()

Chamomile: Clinical Uses

Chamomile is used internally for the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. It is also used internally for its anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and antispasmodic effects. It is used externally for skin and mucous membrane inflammation and hemorrhoids (Natural Medicines, 2000).

Chamomile is approved by the German Commission E for “internal use of gastrointestinal spasms and inflammation and externally for skin and inflammation of the mucous membranes”. It is approved by the World Health Organization for “internal digestive complaints and external skin inflammations and hemorrhoids”.

Chamomile is used for babies to help with sleep, colic, and teething.

Mechanism of Action

Bisabolol causes rapid healing and soothing of the gastrointestinal tract. Spasmolytic effects are thought to inhibit leukotriene synthesis. Polysaccharides activate macrophages and B lymphocytes for wound healing. Proazulenes contained in the flower are anti-allergenic. Apigenin causes the relaxing effect. Many active constituents of chamomile, rather than one major chemical compound, are responsible for its actions..

Chamomile: Dosage

The Food and Drug Administration lists chamomile as an herb that is generally recognized as safe. Use Young’s or Clark’s rule to calculate dosages for children.

Extracts: Standardized to 1.2 percent apigenin.

Capsules: 350 mg to 500 mg up to four times a day.

Tea: By infusion for adults, 1 cup three times daily and at bedtime. Infuse 3 grams of chamomile in 150 mL of water, steep for 5 minutes, then strain. The tea must be covered while steeping to prevent volatile oils from escaping. The tea may also be used as a mouthwash for mouth sores or inflammation of the mucous membranes.

Tincture: (1:5) (g/mL) taken as 15 mL three or four times a day.

Herbal bath: For dry skin and relaxation, mix 1 quart of nonfat milk powder with 1/2 cup of ground oatmeal. Add 1/4 cup of crushed chamomile flowers. Mix with warm bath water or put into cotton bath sack and float in the bath water. Tell patient to soak for about 15 minutes, rinse, and dry.

Side Effects

Chamomile pollen may cause hypersensitivity reactions.

Contraindications

Chamomile is contraindicated in patients who are allergic to chrysanthemums, ragweed, asters, goldenrod, marigold, daisies, or other herbs.

Herb-Drug Interactions

None are known.

Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding

No restrictions are known.

Pediatric Patients

Chamomile is safe for use in colic, sleep disorders, and teething.

Summary of Studies

Weizman et ai. (1993). This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study included 69 infants with colic who drank a mixture of chamomile and other herbs in the form of herbal tea. Results: 57 percent had a reduction of colic symptoms. Dosages were up to 150 mL up to 3 times a day. No side effects were observed.

Chamomile: Warnings

• Don’t use this herb if you’re hypersensitive (allergic) to the pollen.

• Don’t use this herb if you’re allergic to chrysanthemums, ragweed, asters, goldenrod, marigold, daisies, or other herbs.

• No herb-drug interactions are known.

• This herb is safe for use during pregnancy and breast-feeding if consumed in appropriate amounts.

• Chamomile is safe for use in colic, sleep disorders, and teething in children.

Chamomile: Recipes

Relaxing Foot Bath

Add ¼ cup of chamomile flowers to 2 quarts of warm water, strain the flowers, and soak your feet for about 15 minutes. Light candles, play soothing music, and relax.

Stress Reducers

If you have a digestive or nervous system disorder, try these stress-reduction “Recipes” to help yourself relax, increase the oxygen flow in your body, and decrease your heart rate.

Belly Breathing. While lying or sitting, close your eyes and place both hands on your belly. As you breathe in through your nose, feel your stomach push out into your hands. As you breathe out through your mouth, feel your stomach pull in. Try this three times. Then hold your breath for a few seconds and enjoy this peaceful, restful time.

If you have trouble going to sleep at night, do a few belly breaths with your eyes closed. If thoughts come into your mind, just start counting each breath as you exhale. If you still have trouble going to sleep, play an audiotapeof the sounds of gentle waves. Inhale as each wave recedes and exhale as each wave comes to shore.

Exercise. Get some form of exercise daily, such as a meditative walk. Or try lying face up with your back on a huge exercise ball; relax to help stretch your stomach area. During your exercise time, make sure to get plenty of sunshine and fresh air.

Meditation. Either lie down or sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap. Make sure the room is quiet, the phone is off the hook, and the door is closed. Or go for a quiet walk in the woods and lean against a tree. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. As you inhale, feel your stomach push out. As you exhale, feel your stomach pull in. Relax, and think of a peaceful image. Or, if you choose, think of a word such as “peace” or “love” and repeat it in your mind. Relax for about 10 minutes. Do this exercise at least once a day.