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Versatile Chamomile

I am doing an herbal medicine course in Wanaka with Isla Burgess where we have learned different techniques to use medicinally plants. It is amazing to see how the plant realm is so vast, mysterious and beneficial for us. This course is an eye opener for me, and I feel humbled, excited to start this journey of learning and practicing.

In our weekend three, Isla taught us the bases to create creams and how to prepare oil infusions. I thought it was brilliant for me to incorporate in my massage practice to enhance the effect.

This week, I wanted to have a closer focus on Chamomile. I bought last year a big bag of dried chamomile flowers to use in infusions. I found it out to be a wonderful evening drink and I enjoy sharing it with some friends after a heavy meal. It is also very useful before a hypnosis session to relax my client.

When I came back from my last weekend course in Wanaka, I decided it was time to do more oil infusions. When I opened my cupboard, the chamomile bag just popped up and AH HA! Here you are! My next experiment!

I’ve always used chamomile in infusion. I knew it was good for calming down the digestive track and very helpful to drink before going to bed, due to its relaxant effect. But that was about where my knowledge stopped. It was quite a surprise to see how wide this plant is used for.

So what secrets are in this very special plant?

Chamomile has been used and documented for thousands of years in the world for different ailments. This plant from the Asteraceae family contains in the dried flowers two important constituents in medicine: terpenoids and flavonoids (apigenin).

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the traditional use of the chamomile.

Chamomile preparations are commonly used for hay fever, inflammation, muscle spasms, menstrual disorders, insomnia, ulcers, wounds, gastrointestinal disorders, rheumatic pain, and haemorrhoids.

As a traditional medicine, it is used to treat wounds, ulcers, eczema, gout, skin irritations, bruises, burns, canker sores, neuralgia, sciatica, rheumatic pain, haemorrhoids, mastitis and other ailments.

Externally, chamomile has been used to treat diaper rash, cracked nipples, chicken pox, ear and eye infections, disorders of the eyes including blocked tear ducts, conjunctivitis, nasal inflammation and poison ivy.

Let’s have a closer look on its properties:

Anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial:

Chamomile is widely used to treat inflammations of the skin and mucous membranes, and for various bacterial infections of the skin, oral cavity and gums, and respiratory tract.

Nerve calming:

Chamomile in the form of an aqueous extract has been frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety, to treat hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and other sleep problems.

Digestive properties:

Chamomile has been valued as a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting.

Help in children ailments:

Chamomile has also been used to treat colic, croup, and fevers in children. It has been used as an emmenagogue and a uterine tonic in women. It is also effective in arthritis, back pain, bedsores and stomach cramps.

What a list! Such an incredible plant isn’t it?

Even though more studies must be done to validate or not the effectiveness of the plant for different conditions, we have a lot of research and documents justifying some benefits such as anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer activity, infant colic disorders, anti-acid calming effect, haemorrhoids, wound healing.

Chamomile Infused Oil recipe:

½ Chamomile dried flowers

½ Carrier oil (Almond is probably the best)

In a clean jar, put the flower first and pour the oil and mix well.

Keep it away from light in a cool and dry place for 1 month.

After 1 month, remove with a thin strainer the flower heads to only keep the oil.

You can keep the oil for several months, preferably away from direct light and in a cool place.

You can pour some oil in a hot bathtub and soak in for a relaxing evening. It will help you calm down your body and mind from a stressful day.

Note from the author: English is my second language. Even though my writing is improving everyday, please forgive some of my syntax mistakes. If I wait to be perfect, I will never write :)

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