Chamomile – Matricaria recutita
By Steven Horne and Paula Perretty
When Peter Rabbit got a tummy ache from eating too much in Mr. McGregor’s garden, his mother gave him one of Nature’s most dependable remedies chamomile tea. A bitter and aromatic herb, the flowers of German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and its close relative Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) have been used for centuries to calm the nerves and stomach.
It is most effective for this purpose when taken as a warm infusion (tea). Chamomile is such a popular tea that it is estimated that over a million cups are consumed worldwide every day.
Peter Rabbit’s mother was wise in choosing chamomile as a remedy for her child as it is one of the safest remedies known. Apart from extremely rare allergic reactions, chamomile is completely safe for children and is a common remedy for “fussiness” related to colic, teething or earaches. It is typically used homeopathically for this purpose and is a key ingredient in NSP’s Teething homeopathic.
As a sedative and nervine agent, chamomile is valuable for reducing stress and irritability in adults, too. Matthew Wood says it is “for babies of any age.” So, when you see someone complaining of minor pains or irritations think of chamomile or Stress-J, a chamomile-based nervine formula.
NSP’s chamomile capsules contain the German variety (M. recutita), which is biochemically different from the Roman variety (A. nobilis), used in NSP’s chamomile oil. We’re going to primarily talk about the German variety in this article, although both plants have similar therapeutic uses.
A chemically complex herb, German chamomile contains sesquiterpine lactones, flavonoids, cyanogenic glycosides, bitter glycosides, coumarins, valerianic acids, tannins and angelic acid (a compound formerly used as a sedative). Chamomile also contains a blue-colored essential oil that is responsible for its distinctive fragrance. The oil contains proazulene and bisabolol, which are anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic.
Chamomile and more particularly chamomile essential oil, is useful in the treatment of asthma and hay fever, because it reduces histamine levels and histamine induced reactions. It also relaxes muscle spasms, which eases breathing. With diaphoretic (sweat-stimulating) actions and its antiviral and anti-inflammatory activity, chamomile is also a useful remedy for colds, flu and fevers, which explains its presence in the cold formula, CC-A.
Chamomile is a premier digestive remedy. It stimulates digestion, relieves intestinal gas, encourages a healthy appetite, relaxes the nerves and reduces inflammation. Chamomile is used to relieve colic, bloating, acid indigestion, upset stomach, nervous tension, insomnia and mild pain.
An important therapeutic benefit of chamomile is its ability to reduce intestinal inflammation. This property explains why chamomile is an important ingredient in Intestinal Sooth and Build and Everybody’s Fiber.
The anti-inflammatory action of chamomile makes it useful for skin disorders, including eczema, bedsores, skin inflammation caused by radiation therapy, and contact dermatitis (poison ivy). It also has a mild anti-bacterial action and is often used in creams, shampoos and other body care products.
Although chamomile is an extremely safe herb, the essential oil is for topical use and should be avoided during pregnancy.