The beautifully fragrant Chamomile, she could be considered the darling of the herbal flowers, so well known by so many people, and she would be next to her other well known darling flower, Miss Lavender. The fragrance is right there in the bud, or from the moment you open the container the fragrance flows up into your nose screaming out beauty and gentleness, and chamomile is just so wonderfully gentle.
Chamomile grows wild in North America and in Europe, but it also grows in many other countries as well, and has several varieties, and they are German Chamomile, (Matricaria recutita) otherwise called camomile, or wild chamomile, then there are two varieties of Roman chamomile, (Chamaemelum nobile), which is also known as garden chamomile, low chamomile, whig plant, mayweed or ground apple, due to smelling like ‘apples’. Plus, (Chamaemelum nobile ‘Flore Pleno’), which is a ‘doubled flower’ and is more ‘compact’ than the standard Roman chamomile.
Also there are two lesser known chamomiles, which are the Chamomile treneague, which does not flower, and can be used as a no-mow lawn, and the Dyers chamomile, which is used for its dying ability.
The two chamomile’s principally used in herbalism are German chamomile and Roman chamomile. German chamomile is generally considered stronger and better for mucosal surfaces, and Roman chamomile is a little more bitter, soothes the lungs better, and can be used to speed up menstrual flow if needed, but may have more of a possible allergic reaction, such as dermatitis.
Chamomile’s most useful known action is that it is a ‘mild sedative’ therefore it is a relaxant, so much so it can be given to small children who are fretting. It relaxes the nerves, yet without much influence on sedation or side-effects.
How to use Chamomile?
The most popular use of Chamomile is a herbal tea or Tisane, it is great also for the elderly and those convalescing, and this is how you make it:
- Take one heaped teaspoon of chamomile flowers, fresh or dried
- Put it in a loose tea infuser
- Place it in a warmed cup and pour in 250mls of just on boiling water
- Cover and allow to stand for 3-5 minutes
- If desired you can add a little raw honey or stevia, a slice of lemon, a slice or two of ginger or even fennel seeds
The flowers can be place in different types of salads, to add the colour of white and yellow, also they can be frozen in ice blocks to place into drinks.
Babies and Breastfeeding:
If you want to calm your baby from colic, teething or to encourage sleepiness, one can make a similar brew as mentioned above, but, it will need to be at “1/2 a teaspoon” not a whole teaspoon, to a ‘teapot’ not a cup, and this can be drunk in small quantities over the period of the day. Or, given via a bottle. Please note: always check for any possible allergic reaction, just to be safe.
Most only collect the flowers to make with a herbal tea, but it should be noted that some collect the leaves as well, these leaves can be used with the flowers in an infusion, which can be used as an accelerator to assist in decomposition and as a spray to help prevent dampening off. This infusion was made by bringing to boil 600ml of water and adding a handful of the flowers and leaves, then covered to help keep the volatile oils in and allowed to stand for half a day. Then strain and place into a suitable spray bottle for dispensing.
An example of a Bath Potpourri you may like to try:
- Rose Petals
- Lemon verbena
- and Bee Balm
And Other uses:
Apart from its obvious and delicious use a tea beverage, it is used primarily as a herbal medicine, but it is also used in medicinal and pharmaceutical preparations, cosmetics, and its essential oil is used in perfumes.
How to grow Chamomile
Both German and Roman chamomiles are easy to grow, depending on where you live, that is, hotter or colder as most seed planting times will differ, if you are in more hotter and drier climates, then you should plant around autumn and winter, but if you are in cooler climates then plant from spring to early summer.
German chamomile grows as an annual that grows to approximately 30-50 cm high and Roman chamomile is a perennial low growing herb that matts.
- Fill a tray or container with good seed raising mix, which is usually mostly sand
- Sow your seed onto seed trays and cover with about 5mm (1/4″) of some of the seed raising mix
- Lightly water the mix and keep it slightly moist (you can keep a hessian bag laid over the mix to keep the moisture in.)
- They should start emerging approximately 2-3 weeks later
- Transplant the seedlings into either pots or into the garden when you have four good leaves and water in well and protect from heat if necessary until established
- The seed can be directly planted into the garden and thinned out to at least 20cm apart
The double flowered chamomile and chamomile treneague must be propagated by cuttings or division and collect the cutting either during spring and autumn, and the cuttings are generally easier because they have ‘aerial’ roots. Simply make a hole into the potting mix with a dibbler and then carefully place the cuttings into the holes without damaging the roots and water in.
Chamomile loves a sunny position and slightly acidic well-drained soil, and since being relatively hardy and easy to grow, they can grow in less than desirable places. Chamomile does benefit from some liquid fertiliser at the beginning of its growing season and make sure that the ground does not dry out therefore mulch well.
Diseases and Pests:
Due to being highly aromatic by nature, Chamomile is relatively free from pests and disease
Most flowers are collected once they have bloomed and are in the early stage of maturity and in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off and this is to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process and ruining the supply later on. But Chamomile and another flower called ‘Everlasting flower’ are a little different, and so with these, you need to collect the flowers ‘as’ they are starting to blossom, not after they have fully bloomed as with all the rest.
To pick its flowers go out into your garden or wherever you can find wild growing chamomile to collect the flowers, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take a small sharp knife or some garden snips and carefully cut off the flowers or you can pick the flowers by hand, picking them directly behind the the bud. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way.
As your picking them, beware of damaged flowers and make sure your flowers are free from defects, such as, brown edges and dead petals as these will ruin your pick. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as spiders and caterpillars and insect eggs that can be found on these flowers.
The flowers need to be dried in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils; spread out the flowers onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not sitting on top of each other and the air can get around the flowers. The flowers once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the flowers, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.
If your worried about something getting on the dried flowers, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.
Store your beautiful smelling chamomile flowers in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.
Chamomile’s macerating time is relatively short, literally only a few days if you are making a tincture from the flowers. Chamomile makes an excellent glycerin extraction, which is good for those wishing to avoid alcohol.
The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.
Flowers, which have not fully blossomed
Minimum to maximum of dried flower is 0.9 – 1.8g per day
Anti-Inflammatory, spasmolytic, carminative, mild sedative, antiulcer, vulnerary, and diaphoretic
Travel sickness, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, nervous dyspepsia, plus, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food sensitivities, flatulent colic, flatulence, gastrointestinal tract colic and inflammation, diarrhoea, teething and infantile colic, gastritis, peptic ulcers, GORD, topically for dermatitis, mouth ulcers, and wounds
Essential oils with dicycloethers, bisabolol, matricine, flavonoids, coumarins. best to use when rich in bisabolol
Allergic to Chamomile (Think Ragweed)
Presently ‘None Known’
Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment. And no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.
Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda
German Chamomile 40 g / 1.41oz
Certified Organic German Chamomile. Includes Postage and Handling in Australia of $3.65