Chamomile has been used for centuries in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid, treatment for fevers, colds, stomach ailments, and as an anti-inflammatory, to name only a few therapeutic uses.
In the realm of simple herbs, those plants, whose parts are used in whole form for the treatment of common ailments by the common people, few herbs have garnered such a reputation for success as the lowly chamomile.
Chamomile is commonly used in alternative medicine for its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic qualities, and sometimes in cosmetics for its anti-allergenic properties.
The flowers sprinkled in a hot bath before bedtime are very sweet and calming. It is very good for the muscular and digestive systems, and soothes irritated tissue. They have a delightful scent: pineapple to some, apple to others. The flowers can also be used in many ways including in tea or potpourri or as decoration on cakes, salads and in punch bowls.
In addition to medicinal use, chamomiles enjoy wide usage, especially in Europe and the U.S., as a refreshing beverage tea and as an ingredient in numerous cosmetic and external preparations. It is estimated that over one million cups of Chamomile tea are ingested worldwide each day, making it probably the most widely consumed herb tea.
This seed is organically produced. The seed has been harvested from plants that have themselves been raised organically, without the use of chemicals.
Sowing: Sow in early spring or in autumn.
Chamomile seeds can be sown directly where they are to grow or can be started in pots or trays indoors. To direct-sow, start the seeds in early spring or late in the summer. The seeds can germinate when exposed to temperatures as low as 8°C (45°F) and the seedlings can tolerate light frost. Because it can be difficult to keep the outdoor seeds moist to trigger germination, starting them indoors about four weeks before the last spring frost date might be preferred.
In the garden, German chamomile prefers a sunny position with well-drained soil. Scatter the small seeds over the soil surface and lightly tamp them down with the flat side of a spade or garden hoe. Avoid covering them with soil, because they need sunlight to germinate.
Indoors, start the seeds in a seed-starting tray that's filled up to one-half inch from the top with moist seed-starting mix. Surface-sow the seeds and place the tray in a sunny window.
Keep the growing medium moist throughout the germination period. German chamomile seeds can germinate after about one to two weeks. When the seedlings are 5cm (2in) tall, thin them so they're at least 20cm (8in) apart or transplant the indoor seedlings in the garden.
Transplant the seedlings about 20cm (8in) apart. Keep the soil free of weeds and water it regularly so the plants can establish themselves.
About eight weeks after starting the seeds, when the plants are in full bloom, harvest the flowers with a chamomile rake. They can be dried by spreading them on a cloth and laying them in a shady area. If you prefer to harvest the flowers with the stems attached, cut them off with scissors. If you want the flowers to re-seed themselves, avoid harvesting all of them and don't mulch the soil around them. The seeds that fall on the soil will regrow next year.
Main home remedy uses:
Chamomile is regarded as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-fungal.
Camomile tea is an ideal family remedy for restlessness and irritability. It is a mild sedative, good at bedtime, or for children’s travel sickness. Camomile tea can taste a little bitter; a spoonful of honey will improve the taste.
Throughout history women have treasured the benefits of a Chamomile herbal wash; a simple infusion rinsed through the tresses after a shampoo leaves silky locks that lighten in the sun.
For a divine facial treatment, wet a soft flannel with a warm Chamomile infusion and apply lightly to your whole face; better still, enjoy a facial steam by leaning over a steaming bowl of chamomile tea with a towel “tent” over your head. After about 5 minutes or so, stimulate your pores with a rinse of cool water and moisturise with Rose hip or Cucumber seed oil. Not only will your complexion feel smooth, clean and radiant, but your sinuses will reap the benefits from the Chamomile steam treatment as well.
When late nights and lack of sleep leave your eyes puffy and dark, or if seasonal allergies have your peepers looking red and inflamed, Chamomile will do double duty as a tea to calm allergies and relieve tension and insomnia but don’t throw out those tea bags! Cooled Chamomile tea bags placed over the eyes comforts eye strain, reduces inflammation and lightens the appearance of dark circles. A Chamomile compress placed over the eyes and forehead can also ease tension, sinus and even migraine headaches.
Harvest and Storing:
Pick the flowers when in full bloom: pick on a dry day, early in the morning.
Dry in a suitable position, such as an airing cupboard, where the light is excluded and the temperature is even.
Turn and shake regularly. Chamomile should be dry in around four days – It will feel crisp and resilient. Store in a dark airtight jar.
Many gardeners think of chamomile as a 'Plant Doctor' herb because it has a remedial and healthy effect on neighbouring plants - especially plants which appear weak or sick.
Chamomile is useful when planted near to Cabbages, Cucumbers and Onions as it wards of the insects that besiege these crops.
Some growers use cold camomile tea as a spray to prevent damping-off of seedlings. It is especially useful to gardeners that practice organic principles.
Chamomile accumulates calcium, potassium and sulfur, later returning them to the soil.
German chamomile is an annual native of Europe and western Asia, growing from one to two feet high. The disk flowers are yellow surrounded by ten to twenty white ray flowers. The receptacle is smooth, conical, elongated, and hollow inside.
Chamomile is often spelt Camomile in Britain. The more common British spelling 'camomile', corresponding to the immediate French source, is the older in English, while the spelling 'chamomile' more accurately corresponds to the ultimate Latin and Greek source.
Chamaemelum nobile or Roman chamomile is often called True chamomile or English chamomile.
The name Chamomile derives, via French and Latin, from Greek chamaimēlon meaning 'earth-apple' - chamai meaning 'on the ground' and mēlon meaning 'apple', for their applelike scent.
Chamomile is nowadays correctly known as Chamaemelum nobile, but some books refer to its former name Anthemis nobilis. The genus name Anthemis is taken from the Greek anthemon meaning 'flower' for their profuse blooming.
The species name nobile simply means 'notable'. It was considered the best chamomile for herbal use.
Chamomile is a common name for several daisy-like plants:
The two most commonly used are -
- Chamaemelum nobile (formerly Anthemis nobilis), the perennial Roman chamomile, the "lawn" chamomile
- Matricaria recutita (syn. M. chamomilla), the annual German or blue chamomile, commonly used medicinally and in teas (Do not plant as a lawn – it is an annual plant and will die back).
The uses of both German and English chamomile parallel each other. If you are in England, the chamomile you would use is likely Chamaemelum nobile. In the rest of the world, German chamomile, Matricaria recutita dominates commerce.
Believe it or not, even though these two plants look alike, taste alike and have the same name, according to botanists, are not related at all. While Roman Chamomile tends to be the slightly more sedating of the two and German Chamomile is just a little more anti-inflammatory, for the most part these two herbs can be used interchangeably.
If in doubt as to which you have, wait for the plants to flower. When they do, cut into the central cone of one of the flowers with a knife. If the cone is hollow, you have annual German chamomile. If the cone is solid, you have the perennial Roman kind.
Other Chamomiles include:-
- Anthemis arvensis, corn chamomile
- Anthemis cotula, stinking chamomile or dog fennel
- Anthemis tinctoria, yellow, dyers chamomile or golden marguerite
- Ormenis multicaulis, Moroccan chamomile
- Eriocephalus punctulatus, Cape chamomile
- Matricaria discoidea, wild chamomile or pineapple weed.
- Matricaria perforata, scentless chamomile, mayweed or scentless mayweed.
Please consult Culpepper for more information
Culpeper's Colour Herbal. Publisher: W Foulsham & Co Ltd. ISBN: 978-0572027940
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 1,500 Seeds Common Name Camomile Tea, Syn. Matricaria recutita Family Asteraceae Genus Matricaria Species recutita Synonym Matricaria chamomilla Hardiness Hardy Annual Natural Flower Time July to Sept Height 30 to 60cm (12 to 24in) Spacing 20cm. (8in) Position Prefers a sunny position. Soil Light, well-drained garden soil Germination 7 to 10 Days