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Chamomile: Chamomile has small, white daisylike flowers with a
yellow center. The flower is the part of the herb that is used. Two
different plants carry the common name chamomile. One of them, M. chamomilla,
is sometimes referred to as Hungarian, German, or genuine chamomile to
distinguish it from C. nobile, Roman or English chamomile. These very
popular herbs are used almost interchangeably. However, they do differ.
Both types of
chamomile have traditionally been used in tea to treat digestive distress
including stomachache, cramps, colitis, and
Chamomile has a long-standing reputation as
being good for almost anything that might ail a body.
preparations are also used topically for red, inflamed skin (such as
Rosacea) and as a mouthwash or gargle. Components of chamomile have
antibacterial and antifungal activity.
For the treatment of skin
conditions such as Rosacea, steep a cup of strong chamomile tea (3 bags or
equivalent loose tea) for 10 minutes and use as a cold compress on the affected
People with colds sometimes breathe in the vapors from a steaming
cup of chamomile tea. This pleasantly aromatic steam is believed to help
relieve congestion of the nose and lungs.
Millions of children have
learned about one of its most widespread uses, treating indigestion due to
dietary indiscretion, from Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Another
traditional use has been to relieve menstrual cramps. Chamomile infusions are
also used to stimulate the appetite and to aid digestion. Chamomile tea is
considered a mild sleep aid. It is also used as a gentle treatment for
The essential oils are not very soluble in water; as a result,
the dose of active ingredients delivered in the usual cup of chamomile tea is
low. However, regular use of chamomile tea over an extended period is believed
to have cumulative benefits.
M. chamomilla: German chamomile flowers
contain about 0.5 percent of a volatile oil that is light blue. The most
important constituents of the oil are bisabolol and related compounds and
matricin. Bisabolol has significant antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory
activity. Up to half of the oil is chamazulene, formed from matricin
during heating. Flavonoids in the flowers, apigenin and luteolin, are
also active. In addition, the coumarins herniarin and umbelliferone may also
quell inflammation and quiet smooth muscle spasms. No single ingredient
has been identified as responsible for the benefits of chamomile. C.
nobile: Roman chamomile flowers contain from 0.5 to 2.5 percent essential oil,
which does not contain bisabolol. The flavonoid ingredients are similar,
though not identical, to those of M. chamomilla.
To make the tea, pour
approximately 2/3 cup boiling water over 1 or 2 teaspoons dried chamomile
flowers and steep at least five minutes. For digestive problems, drink
tea three to four times a day, between meals. There are no limitations on
duration of use.
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