German chamomile, or Matricaria recutita, is often an underutilized herb. There are two different species of chamomile but we will be discussing the German one today, not the Roman. The flowers from this plant are commonly used in tea as a relaxing nervine but there are many other uses for chamomile that you may not know about.
One of my favorite uses for chamomile is as a digestive aid. Just like in the rest of the body, chamomile is great at calming spasms of the digestive tract, just as it calms other nervous impulses through the body. It also is a gentle carminative in the digestive tract, helping to simulate digestive secretions so that you can digest your food more effectively and help with the elimination of excessive gas. This action comes primarily from the aromatic compounds in chamomile flowers so be sure your herb is nice and fragrant if you are aiming for these actions.
Of course we know about chamomile’s amazing actions to relax the body and mind. It is considered to be safe for everyone to use unless you have a known allergy to plants in the aster/daisy family. A tea of 3g, three times a day, can be great to help relieve anxiety and other stresses of the nervous system. It is great to use around test time on a daily basis or to even support mild depression associated with seasonal effective disorder. Small children also do well with this herb. A wash cloth can be soaked in a cooled chamomile tea and given to teething children to relieve some of the pain, relieve inflammation, and provide a tasty object to teethe on.
I also enjoy using chamomile for it’s anti-inflammatory actions. This action is common in the digestive and respiratory systems when taken internally but it’s actions are also used on the skin when applied topically. Chamomile can be used as a poultice or a steam inhalation to help with the lungs when the lungs are inflamed. Personally, I enjoy making an infused oil of chamomile for topical use as an anti-inflammatory for minor sprains and strains. The antispasmodic actions of chamomile are not just associated with the digestive tract and can also be effective for muscle tension. You may want to consider chamomile both topically and internally if you notice you have muscle tension that is resulting in poor sleep at night. It can even be used on minor wounds due to it’s milk antimicrobial actions topically and can be found in our Chamomile Yarrow cream, one of our seasonal products, for topical use.
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Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultations visit The Dancing Herbalist.com.