Chamomile |ˈkaməˌmēl; -ˌmīl| (also camomile) noun
an aromatic European plant of the daisy family, with white and yellow daisy-like flowers.
• The perennial sweet (or Roman) chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile (or Anthemis nobilis), family Compositae), used, esp. formerly, for lawns and herbal medicine, the annual German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), used medicinally, and the yellow-flowered dyer's chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria), used to produce a yellow-brown dye.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French camomille, from late Latin chamomilla, from Greek khamaimēlon ‘earth apple’ (because of the apple-like smell of its flowers).
Chamomile or camomile (/ˈkæmɵmiːl/ kam-ə-meel or /ˈkæmɵmaɪl/ kam-ə-myl) is a common name for several daisy-like plants of the family Asteraceae. These plants are best known for their ability to be made into an infusion which is commonly used to help with sleep and is often served with honey or lemon, or both. Because chamomile can cause uterine contractions which can lead to miscarriage, the U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends that pregnant and nursing mothers should not consume chamomile. Individuals allergic to ragweed (also in the daisy family) may also be allergic to chamomile due to cross-reactivity. However, there is still some debate as to whether individuals with reported allergies to chamomile were truly exposed to chamomile or to a plant of similar appearance.
Chamomile is an annual herb found in southern Europe and northern Asia. It grows along roadsides and fields. The plant produces a round, furrowed, and branched stem which grows one to two feet in height. The leaves are pale green, incised, and sessile, with thread-shaped leaflets. The flower heads consists of yellow disk flowers and white petal-shaped ray flowers that are bent downward to make the disk flowers more prominent. The medicinal part is the flower.
Chamaemelum nobile = Roman, Common, or English Chamomile
Matricaria recutita = German, Hungarian, or Wild Chamomile
A number of other species' common names include the word chamomile. This does not mean they are used in the same manner as the species used in the herbal tea known as "chamomile." Plants including the common name "chamomile," of the family Asteraceae, are:
- Anthemis arvensis, corn, scentless or field chamomile
- Anthemis cotula, stinking chamomile
- Cladanthus multicaulis, Moroccan chamomile
- Cota tinctoria, dyer's, golden, oxeye, or yellow chamomile
- Eriocephalus punctulatus, Cape chamomile
- Matricaria discoidea, wild chamomile or pineapple weed
- Tripleurospermum inodorum, wild, scentless or false chamomile
Dried flowers or tea bags can be turned into a "soup" for fruit salad, says Eric Bedoucha, executive pastry chef and coowner of the Financier Patisserie in New York. In summer, he combines coins of fresh ginger, chamomile flowers, one tea bag "to strengthen the flavor," and equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan, brings it to a boil, then removes it from the heat. "Wait till it stops boiling, then pour it over crisp apricots and blueberries - it softens the fruit, brings out a nice color, and adds subtle flavor," he says.
- Infused in jams; it's lovely with plums or other mild fruits.
- As a flavor note in a fruit-crisp topping.
- In simple syrup for a sweet summertime drink.
Lemon Chamomile Sauce
- 1-1/2 cups Water
- 2 Chamomile tea bags
- 1-1/2 tbsp Lemon juice
- 3 tbsp. Malbec Jam
(Alternatively, use 3 tbsp of honey and 1 tbsp of red wine)
- 1 tbsp Brown sugar, you can use regular sugar instead.
Use more sugar for a sweeter sauce.
- 1/8 tsp Lemon zest
- Boil the water in a sauce pan.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the chamomile tea bags.
- Boil for 30 seconds.
- Turn off heat and let the tea steep for about 7 minutes.
- Remove tea bags.
- Turn the heat back on and add all the remaining ingredients to the tea.
- Simmer till the sauce has reduced to about 60% of its original volume.
Simple Pecan Crumble & Baked Apples
Pecan crumble is one of the easiest desserts to pull together quickly, and all of the ingredients are pantry staples. The crisp topping is great for stuffing apples or on top of a baked fruit crumble (double this recipe for the latter). The apples can be substituted with peaches or apricots in the summer.
MAKE AHEAD: The pecan topping can be frozen in a resealable plastic food storage bag for up to 6 months.
- 4 medium tart apples, partially cored so the bottoms remain intact
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup raw oats
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces, coarsely chopped
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1-1/2 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- Vanilla ice cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Arrange the cored apples upright in a snug baking dish.
- Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, chamomile flowers, nutmeg, salt and butter in a medium bowl.
- Use your fingertips to massage the mixture until it forms coarse crumbs and larger clumps.
- Use the mixture to fill each hollowed core, packing the filling down and piling a little on top.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the apples are soft and easily pierced with a sharp knife.
- Serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Per serving (not including ice cream): 470 calories, 4g protein, 65g carbohydrates, 23g fat, 12g saturated fat, 45mg cholesterol, 160mg sodium, 7g dietary fiber, 41g sugar
Chamomile Drinks & Beverages
Long revered as a calming beverage, chamomile has powers extending far beyond simple relaxation.
For tea or liquid-based recipes, steep fresh or dried chamomile at least 10 minutes to bring out all the flavor.
You can also simply mix cooled chamomile tea with fruit juice for a refreshing spritzer or keep a pitcher of chamomile-infused lemonade in the fridge. That way, when you come home after a long, hot day, you can pour yourself a glass, let go of that stress, and just… chill.
The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans had divergent cultures spanning several millennia, but they had one thing in common: chamomile tea, their go-to potion for frayed nerves. It seems the ancients were spot-on - research indicates that apigenin, an antianxiety agent found in the delicate daisy-like flower, binds to the same receptors in the brain as prescription sedatives.
What’s more, sipping the faintly apple-flavored brew isn’t the only way to get the benefit: When the calming effects of a full-body massage were tested on cancer patients using either plain or chamomile essential oil, "the chamomile group had significantly improved quality-of-life scores, decreased symptoms, and much less anxiety compared to the patients who were massaged with plain oil," says Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author of The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth.
Chamomile Ginger Tea
Steep 1 tsp ginger root with 1 tbs Chamomile tea. Strain and sweet with local honey.
If chamomile is not your cup of tea, this refreshing lemonade is a great new way to give the flower a try.
- ¾ cup cane sugar
- 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
- 5 Tbs. fresh or dried chamomile flowers, or 6 chamomile tea bags
- ¾ cup lemon juice
- Lemon slices, for garnish
- Combine sugar, lemon zest, and 2 cups water in saucepan.
- Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Remove from heat, and add chamomile flowers.
- Strain chamomile mixture into 2-qt. pitcher; stir in lemon juice and 3 cups water.
- Serve over ice with lemon slices, or store, covered, in refrigerator up to 5 days.
Chamomile Health Benefits
- Anti Inflammatory
- Canker Sores
- Chicken Pox
- Crohn's Disease
- Diaper Rash
- Eye Irritations
- Gall Bladder Stones
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Menstrual Cramps
- Menstrual Disorders
- Muscles Twitches
- Nerve Damage
- Panic Attacks
- Peptic Ulcers
- Skin Irritations
- Sleep Problems
- Sore Throats
- Stomach Flu
Chamomile comes in capsule, liquid, and tea forms; typical dosing remains at nine (9) to fifteen (15) grams each 24-hour period. Testing completed on Chamomile involved gargles made up of eight (8) grams of the flowers mixed with one thousand (1,000) milliliters of water.
To relieve minor cuts and skin irritations, apply a soaked and cooled chamomile tea bag to the affected area as needed, or apply chamomile cream to the area 1 to 4 times daily. For tension or digestive upset, steep 2 to 3 heaping teaspoons fresh or dried loose chamomile flowers for 10 minutes, then drink.
Both single and double flowers are used in medicine. It is considered that the curative properties of the single, wild Chamomile are the more powerful, as the chief medical virtue of the plant lies in the central disk of yellow florets, and in the cultivated double form the white florets of the ray are multiplied, while the yellow centre diminishes. The powerful alkali contained to so much greater extent in the single flowers is, however, liable to destroy the coating of the stomach and bowels, and it is doubtless for this reason that the British Pharmacopceia directs that the 'official' dried Chamomile flowers shall be those of the double, cultivated variety.
Chamomile, the national flower of Russia, is renowned for its sedative qualities and calming effects when ingested. In Europe, chamomile is known for easing gastrointestinal distress, as well as the following: canker sores, conjunctivitis, eczema, gingivitis, hemorrhoids, menstrual disorders, migraines, ulcers and skin irritations.
Chamomile contains a flavonoid called Chrysin, which proved to have anxiolytic effects in animal studies. These studies are believed to be the initial catalysts for the use of Chamomile in reducing anxiety and stress levels, and fostering better, more sound sleep patterns.
The petals of this daisy-like flower are mostly dried and made into teas, which can be sipped when one experiences anxiety-related symptoms, upset stomach, the stomach flu, and menstrual cramps. Indeed, Chamomile is part of the genus called Matricaria, which stems from the Latin “matrix,” meaning womb.
In other studies, Chamomile proved to be antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory in nature; these characteristics prove extremely effective in combating any type of cramping within the body, whether it is in the uterus, stomach, intestines, colon, or muscles.
Another use for Chamomile is for internal and external infections. Chamomile is considered an antimicrobial agent, which prohibits the growth of staphylococcal and streptococcal bacterial strains. Chamomile oil can be used topically to prevent infection of open wounds on the skin; Chamomile tea, combined with other antimicrobials like Echinacea, Golden Seal, and Thyme can help to cure or prevent internal infections.
Chemical Composition: Amino Acids, Apigenin, Apiin, Azulene compounds, Carbohydrates, Chamazulene, Coumarins, Farnesol, Fatty acids, Flavonoids, Guaiazulene, Luteolin, Plant acids, Scopoletin, Volatile oils.
Nutrient Composition: Bioflavonoids, Choline, UFA, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C.
Chemical compounds present within chamomile have demonstrated the ability to bind GABA receptors, modulate monoamine neurotransmission, and have displayed neuroendocrine effects. Major chemical compounds present within chamomile include apigenin and alpha-bisabolol. There is Level B evidence to support the claim that chamomile possesses anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties and chamomile may have clinical applications in the treatment of stress and insomnia.
Other classes of chemical compounds found within the chamomile plant include: sesquiterpenes, terpenoids, flavonoids, coumarins such as herniarin and umbelliferone, phenylpropanoids such as chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, flavones such as apigenin and luteolin, flavanols such as quercetin and rutin, and polyacetylenes. Alpha-bisabolol has been shown to have antiseptic properties, anti-inflammatory properties, and has also been demonstrated to reduce pepsin secretion without altering secretion of stomach acid. Umbelliferone has been shown to be fungistatic. Apigenin has demonstrated strong chemopreventive effects. Coumarin compounds present in chamomile such as herniarin and umbelliferone may have blood thinning properties and there is some evidence that chamomile may interact with other medications causing drug-drug interactions.
Chamomile calms more than the mind - it’s also effective at relaxing the gastrointestinal tract to ease gas and indigestion. In fact, chamomile was shown to relieve colic in infants twice as often as a placebo preparation. Researchers ascribe its cramp-stopping powers to bisabolol, an antispasmodic, as well as to glycine, an amino acid that may help relax the uterus, relieving PMS and menstrual symptoms. The flower’s health perks don’t stop there: In an Imperial College of London study, researchers found that regular chamomile tea drinkers had elevated levels of hippurate, an antibacterial compound that can help fight infections brought on by colds. What’s more, hippurate levels stayed high for up to two weeks after their last sip. The proof is so solid that the German Commission E has approved chamomile for cough, bronchitis, and inflammation of the mouth, throat, and skin, says Bowden.
Chamomile has been used for inflammation associated with hemorrhoids when applied topically. Chemical components of chamomile extract have demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antihyperglycemic, antigenotoxic, and anticancer properties when examined in vitro and in animal studies.
- Anodyne - a substance which relieves pain, usually with accompanied sedation.
- Anthelmintic - an agent which destroys or expels intestinal worms.
- Antispasmodic - an agent which relieves or prevents spasms, usually of the smooth muscles. Barbiturates and valerian are examples of antispasmodics.
- Calmative - a substance that has a soothing or sedative effect.
- Carminative - an agent which assists in expelling gas from the intestines.
- Diaphoretic - an agent which increases perspiration.
- Stimulant - an agent that temporarily increases activity or physiological processes. Stimulants may be classified according to the organ upon which they act; for example, an intestinal stimulant is that which stimulates the intestines.
- Tonic - an agent which strengthens or tones.
Chamomile helps promote thyroxine which helps rejuvenate the texture of the hair and skin, and also promotes mental alertness. It is also a soothing sedative and is useful internally for babies and children as an aid in colds, stomach trouble, colitis, sleeplessness, and as a gargle, and externally for eczema and inflammation. As a tea it is used for nerves and menstrual cramps. It has been recommended for persons who cannot tolerate caffeine, such as those with peptic ulcers, hypertension, and heart problems.
Chamomile is recognized by the orthodox medical profession, especially in France and Spain, as a valuable medicine for the young. Doctors in an eastern United States hospital gave this herb, as a tea, to heart patients who had not responded to sleep-inducing drugs. Of the 12 patients, 10 immediately fell asleep.
Chamomile contains chamazulene, which has antiallergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. Some species of chamomile contain alkaloids which could induce spasms, but the substance does not have a significant biological effect at the concentrations obtained in a normal human dose of chamomile tea. However, such teas are usually used over a long period of time, during which a cumulative effect might result.
A chamomile compress can help relieve minor skin problems, from cuts and burns to rashes and cracked skin. Simply steep a tea bag, and let it cool, or mix dried tea with enough water to create a paste, apply to a piece of gauze, place on the affected area, and secure with surgical tape. "Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids, namely apigenin, quercetin, and luteolin, that help relieve irritation", says Ray Sahelian, MD, author of Mind Boosters: A Guide to Natural Supplements That Enhance Your Mind, Memory, and Mood. It’s also rich in azulene, a natural antihistamine that blocks the itching, swelling, and redness triggered by allergies and insect bites.
The small flowers taste like the tea, on the sweet side and apple-ish. In a publication North Carolina State University warns that the flowers contain “thuaone” but that is a misprint which has since been proliferated over the Internet. Chamomile has very low amounts of thujone, which is credited in significant amounts to getting people high. It’s one of the compounds in Absinthe. All chamomile tea does, is make people sleepy. If you are allergic to ragweed, however, you might want to avoid chamomile. The two plants are related and chamomile can bother some people with a ragweed allergy.
Chamomile Toxicity Warning
Chamomile is listed on the FDA’s (GRaS) Generally Recognized as Safe list, though its safety has not been established for pregnant or nursing women, or for young children or people with liver or kidney disease. Because chamomile has natural blood-thinning properties, avoid ingesting it if you’re taking other blood-thinning medications.
Chamomile can produce severe shock in individuals allergic to ragweed pollen. Chamomile should be taken in moderate doses; large doses can cause vomiting. Chamomile can cause contact dermatitis or external skin rashes. Chamomile tea has a marked hypnotic effect.
There are no known drug interactions. Possible interactions relate to the antiarrhythmic agent quinidine, which may increase the hypoprothrombonemic effect of Chamomile. Conversely, the anti-inflammatory activity of Chamomile can be seriously inhibited by phenobarbital as well as by certain other sedatives and hypnotics, such as chloral hydrate and meprobamate. This is also true of beta-adrenergic blocking agents such as propranolol. Vitamin K, menadione, and menadiol sodium diphosphate may antagonize the anticoagulant effect of coumarins.
Although the coumarin content of chamomile is not high at normal usage levels, it is important to note that coumarins can affect the action of almost any drug. It should also be noted that the presence of azulenes in chamomile may interfere with the actions of bradykinin, histamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin.
To the extent that chamomile's action depends on the presence of cholinergic substances, its action will be affected by the decrease in cholinergic-receptor stimulation produced by anticholinergics.
In the absence of other hard data, it may still be assumed that observable interactions may occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in chamomile.
There is evidence to show that combining bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent. However, how this finding applies to herbal anti-infectives is still unknown.
Chamomile Beauty & Cosmetic Applications
Chamomile is frequently added to skin cosmetics to serve as an emollient, and for its anti-inflammatory effects. Chamomile is also often used to enhance the color of blonde hair.
Other not-so-well-known uses for Chamomile include its use in hair colors, shampoos and conditioners; as flavor in cigarette tobacco; as a skin wash to clean ulcerations on the skin, thus improving exfoliation of infected or dead skin cells and improving healing; as an astringent; and in deodorants. Air Wick even uses Chamomile in one of its Relaxation products.
Chamomile oil is useful in treating bad burns by simply rubbing a small amount of the oil across the burned area once a day. For burns and scrapes, use three tea bags in one cup of water and dip a washcloth into the cup. Using the damp cloth as compresses apply it to the wounded area.
By making a hot infused tub to soak in will help to soften mucus membranes and render anti-inflammatory effects. Simply fill a tub with hot water and put in Chamomile bath beads, baking soda, and honey. Breathe over the mixture will help to soften the mucus membranes enough that a person will not have trouble breathing. The mixture will help the person to feel content and relaxed.
Putting tea bags on the eye lids will help to get rid of the itch eyes and dark circles. Wrap the hot tea bags in a towel and put them on your eye lids for at least five minutes.
Chamomile flowers signify: Patience ; attracts wealth.
Amelia Hirota, a board-certified acupuncturist and herbalist, says chamomile is helpful for many conditions, but is best known for its ability to ameliorate anxiety and insomnia. For adults, it's most commonly taken as a tea made with the dried flowers. For children, she likes the prepared homeopathic version of chamomile, which is good for sleep problems, for its calming effects and for soothing for teething babies. “I've used this extensively with my son and it works wonders,” she says.
Amy Pennington, creator and owner of GoGo Green Garden, an edible gardening business in Seattle, loves chamomile's distinct flavor, "First it's flora-y and then it turns almost sweet on your tongue. There is really nothing else like it." She uses fresh chamomile in the summer. Chamomile is fairly easy to grow, she says, and will reseed itself year after year with little attention. Pennington began cooking with at Qullisascut Farm School years ago. "The chef there added chamomile to our oatmeal in the morning," she says. "I had no idea what the flavor was, but I fell in love instantly.”
Her method is simple: "I crush dried flower heads or mash fresh flower heads for my oatmeal. I start by browning some butter in a pan, adding some oat flakes and then some flowers and get it all nice and toasty. From there, I add water or milk to make the oatmeal."
“When I have busy days, I tend to second-guess eating it because I don't want to be sleepy when I'm trying to get stuff done," Pennington says. "After years of experimentation, I'm happy to say I have never gotten notably tired after eating a big bowl for breakfast."
Kathy Morgan, award-winning sommelier at Michel Richard Citronelle, uses chamomile to create a cocktail called the Citronelle Swizzle. She infuses Barbancourt rum with chamomile, then mixes the spirit with falernum and pineapple. I imagine this Hot Blonde, made with chamomile-infused gin, would be a great way to wind down after a tough day. And while Firefly restaurant used Chamomile Syrup to make a julep, I think it would be great in iced tea. Birch & Barley pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac likes to infuse chamomile flowers in dairy-based items, which yield the strongest flavor: “I have done panna cotta, ice cream or even a batter for french toast. On the lighter side, I have added a chamomile-infused simple syrup to sorbet bases. My personal favorite is apricot, but blueberry is good, too. I find that chamomile works best with other fruits that grow during the same season, which is late May through mid-July,” she says.
The word chamomile derives, via Latin, from Greek χαμαίμηλον, chamaimelon, i.e. "Earth Apple". The more common British spelling "camomile," is the older in English, while the spelling "chamomile" more accurately corresponds to the ultimate Latin and Greek source.
Egyptians loved chamomile so much that they dedicated this flower to their Sun god, Ra. Chamomile was used by the ancient Romans and Greeks to treat inflammatory conditions and as a sedative.
The double-flowered form was already well known in the sixteenth century. It was introduced into Germany from Spain about the close of the Middle Ages.
Chamomile was largely cultivated before the war in Belgium, France and Saxony and also in England, chiefly in the famous herbgrowing district of Mitcham. English flowerheads are considered the most valuable for distillation of the oil, and during the war the price of English and foreign Chamomile reached an exorbitant figure.
The 'Scotch Chamomile' of commerce is the Single or Wild Chamomile, the yellow tubular florets in the centre of the head being surrounded by a variable number of white, ligulate or strap-shaped ray florets. The 'English Chamomile' is the double form, with all or nearly all the florets white and ligulate. In both forms the disk or receptacle is solid and conical, densely covered with chaffy scales, and both varieties, but especially the single, have a strong aromatic odour and a very bitter taste.
The fresh plant is strongly and agreeably aromatic, with a distinct scent of apples - a characteristic noted by the Greeks, on account of which they named it 'ground-apple' - kamai (on the ground) and melon (an apple) - the origin of the name Chamomile. The Spaniards call it 'Manzanilla,' which signifies 'a little apple,' and give the same name to one of their lightest sherries, flavoured with this plant.
When walked on, its strong, fragrant scent will often reveal its presence before it is seen. For this reason it was employed as one of the aromatic strewing herbs in the Middle Ages, and used often to be purposely planted in green walks in gardens. Indeed walking over the plant seems specially beneficial to it...
"Like a camomile bed, The more it is trodden, The more it will spread."