Chamomile is native to Europe and Asia, but today can be found growing in North America and a few other parts of the world. Chamomile is a small plant, usually between 8 to 16 inches in height, and bares little white and yellow flowers. The entire chamomile plant, or the flowers alone, may be used in herbal preparations. German chamomile is the most common type of chamomile used medicinally. Chamomile has been used medicinally for hundreds of years in connection with health problems relating to the gastrointestinal tract. This practice continues today.
Many ancient cultures including the Roman, Greeks, and Egyptians have used chamomile to relieve a variety of ailments including fevers, abdominal pain, and stroke. Chamomile is especially popular in Germany where many individuals refer to the plant as the cure all cure. In the United States chamomile has also gained popularity as a relaxant and sleep inducer. German chamomile is also quite popular for its ability to relieve more minor conditions such as gas, motion sickness, and stomach aches.
Additional uses of german chamomile include irritation from chest colds, slow-healing wounds, abscesses, gum inflammation, psoriasis, eczema, ulcerative colitis, and children's conditions such as chickenpox, diaper rash, and colic are common reasons for taking chamomile tea, baths, or tinctures. Usually, chamomile is used when symptoms arise. If you are using it for ulcer, heartburn, or another potentially serious condition, and your symptoms are not going away or are getting worse, it is highly recommended that you consult a qualified health care provider as soon as you can.
German chamomile contains 1 to 2 volatile oils which include alpha-bisabolol, alpha-bisabolol oxides A & B, and matricin. Other active constituents include the flavonoids apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin. Researchers believe that these contituents contribute to chamomile's antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and gastrointestinal relaxing effects.Dosage and Administration
Side Effects and Precautions
- 1 to 2 mL of the glycerite form of German chamomile may be used three times daily to treat spasm or inflammation.
- For ulcers and other stomach pain, heartburn, and gas you can make a tea using 2 to 3 grams of the herb mixed in boiling water and then let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. May take up to 4 times daily.
- For lungs during cold weather pour a few drops of chamomile into steaming water and inhale.
- To soothe hemorrhoids, cuts, eczema, or insect bites, use 1/4 lb of dried flowers per bath, or use alcohol extracts of chamomile flowers in the tub.
German chamomile is generally considered safe. However, chamomile should be kept away from the eyes and when taken in high dosages chamomile tea may cause vomiting.Supporting LiteratureGyllenhaal C. Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders. Sleep Med Rev. 2000;4.
Jakolev V, Isaac O, Thiemer K, Kunde R. Pharmacological investigations with compounds of chamomile. II. New investigations on the antiphlogistic effects of (-)-alpha-bisabolol and bisabolol oxides. Planta Med 1979;35:125-140.
Jakolev V, Isaac O, Flaskamp E. Pharmacological investigations with compounds of chamomile. VI. Investigations on the antiphlogistic effects of chamazulene and matricine. Planta Med 1983;49:67-73.
Subiza J, Subiza JL, Alonso M, et al. Allergic conjunctivitis to chamomile tea. Ann Allergy. 1990;65(2):127-132.
Wichtl M. Herbal Drugs and Phytopharmaceuticals. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 1994, 322-325.