Sweet Chamomile Flowers Make A Soothing Apple-Scented Herbal Tea
Chamomile, also spelled camomile, is the name given to several flowering herbs in the aster family, Asteraceae. Matricaria recutita, which is synonymous with M. chamomilla and Chamomilla recutita, is known as German, Hungarian or wild chamomile. Anthemis nobilis, which is synonymous with Chamaemelum nobile, may be called Roman, English, sweet or common chamomile.
Chamomiles have a daisy-like flower with white ray flowers (petals) and yellow disc flowers in the center of the bloom. Blooming occurs in early to mid summer. The annual plant grows a couple of feet tall or so when it’s cultivated in gardens. Chamomile has escaped from gardens and naturalized in areas near human dwellings, in waste areas like roadsides, railroads, edges of woods, and in cultivated fields.
Flower heads are dried and most often used to make tea. Dried chamomile flowers, 2 teaspoons, steeped in near boiling water and covered for 10-15 minutes makes a nice herbal tea with a faint smell of apples. Honey and lemon are often added for a little extra taste.
Chamomile tea is consumed for anxiety, insomnia, indigestion, to relieve stress and to calm a nervous stomach. It may be more commonly used in Europe where it’s taken to soothe the inflammation that causes backache, neuralgia and arthritis. Chamomile oil has been used externally to treat psoriasis, burns and sunburn.
The essential oil of chamomile is used in perfumes, shampoos, face creams and lotions and it’s used in aromatherapy. Essential oil from the German variety is said to be stronger and less acrid than that of the Roman type.
In the kitchen flower heads can be added to omelets, salads, sauces and bread doughs for a light, herbal taste. Chamomile flowers can be floated in a tea-cup or other beverage and otherwise used for decoration.
Chamomile has been used over the centuries to treat many ailments. Treatments are mostly folklore though as the benefits of drinking chamomile tea for many maladies haven’t been substantiated by modern medical science. It hasn’t been studied enough yet, but chamomile should be further researched for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and stress-relieving properties.
Chamomile is promising as an anti-anxiety treatment. It’s being studied by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States. A preliminary trial with a few dozen people showed promise for a standardized dose of chamomile to treat their anxiety, so a larger study was designed to understand more about its effectiveness in managing anxiety. A large clinical trial that is to be completed in 2014 is investigating the claims that chamomile can sooth people affected by general anxiety disorder. It is designed to study the “initial and long-term benefits of chamomile extract therapy for the prevention of recurrent anxiety disorder.”
A note of caution about the calming effects of chamomile is appropriate here. These effects may increase drowsiness by enhancing the sedative or tranquilizing effects of other medicines, such as muscle relaxants, barbiturates, narcotics, antidepressants or alcohol.