Matricaria recutita, Chamaemelum nobile, Matricaria chamomilla, and Matricaria suaveolens
There are many different plants that have been called chamomile such as German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Hungarian chamomile, wild chamomile, pineapple weed (referring to the shape of the inflorescenses), and scented mayweed. Chamomile has also been spelled “camomile”. Chamomile is a flowering plant in the daisy family. It is native to Europe and Asia.
The true chamomile, named by Linnaeus but to differentiate from the German plant, he named the German plant Chamomilla.
From a short root, this creeping chamomile, a nearly prostrate perennial, puts forth a stem 3-12 inches tall, from which lacy leaves grow. The small flower heads, which grow singly at the ends of the shoot tips, consist of daisy-like flowers and many (up to 400) yellow tubular disk flowers at the center. It Blooms in late spring through late summer. The fruits (seeds) are extremely tiny. There are other species called chamomile. Cases of mistaken identity may result in allergic reactions to the application of chamomile. Consequently, buy chamomile in a pharmacy, health food store or other reputable source.
Growing chamomile in the garden or in bowls or pots on the balcony or patio is very rewarding. Once the chamomile is established, no tending is necessary. The seeds cast by this annual will produce plenty of new plants each year. However, chamomile does need humus, nutritious soil that is not too heavy and plenty of sun. If there is no rainfall for a prolonged period, the plants will need watering.
Chamomile seeds are sold in every seed store. Sow them in spring in well-prepared (loosened) soil, which has to be kept damp at first. Because chamomile germinates in the light, spread the seeds and press them down very lightly.
Harvest the flower heads as soon as they have opened, taking as little of the stalk as possible. The entire herb is strongly apple scented.
Chamomilla recutita or Matricaria recutita or Matricaria chamomilla:
Smooth, apple-scented, erect annual;
Other varieties: Mayweed and others of the genus Anthemis, are commonly classified as weeds and are not cultivated as a rule; Yellow or Ox-eye camomile
Chamomile is commonly used in teas and potpourri. It has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, sedative, aromatic and soothing qualities that make it ideal for use on the skin. Chamomile is generally considered to be a very safe herb to use, even for children, although some people do experience allergic reactions from chamomile.
Because it is both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, it is useful in treating skin inflammations including eczema, psoriasis and even diaper rash. Extracts of chamomile can also speed the healing of wounds on the skin. Chamomile is mild and gentle enough to use routinely on the skin to prevent infection and inflammation. Chamomile is found in many over-the-counter skin ointments, or you can make your own chamomile balm.
Chamomile comes in capsule, liquid, and tea form.
Why Do People Use Chamomile?
Chamomile has a long history of use in Europe for digestive ailments. The active constituents of chamomile have anti-inflammatory properties, and ease spasm and discomfort in the digestive tract.
· Canker sores
· Conjunctivitis, eye irritations
· Crohn’s disease
· Menstrual disorders
· Irritable bowel syndrome
· Peptic ulcer
· Skin irritations
· Ulcerative colitis
· Minor wounds
Chamomile is part of the Asteraceae plant family, which includes ragweed and chrysanthemum, so people with allergies to these plants may react when they use chamomile either internally or topically. Call your doctor if you experience vomiting, skin irritation, allergic reactions (chest tightness, wheezing, hives, rash, itching) after chamomile use.
Chamomile should not be taken during pregnancy or breast feeding.
Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound with anticoagulant or blood-thinning effects. It should not be combined with warfarin or other medications or supplements that have the same effect or be used by people with bleeding disorders. It shouldn’t be used two weeks before or after surgery.