In the next few weeks I'll be posting excerpts from my Healing Herbs ebook. The whole book is now available for free at LearningHerbs.com - check it out!
Chamomile is a cheery plant that looks and smells beautiful. It makes a wonderful ground cover in gardens, producing a sweet scent when walked upon. The dried herb is a great addition to eye pillows and dream pillows, although some people with ragweed allergies may react to chamomile.
Chamomile is a very well known herb has been used by everyone from the ancient Egyptians to modern day Peter Rabbit who is given chamomile tea before bed. To harvest this plant, gather the flowering tops just before they fully open.
Externally chamomile can be used as a poultice or salve to heal burns, rashes, or eczema. I also love to make a strong infusion of this herb and add the resulting brew to my bath water.
Safe for young children, it’s often the preferred herb for a wide range of common childhood complaints such as restlessness, colic, teething, whining, and fevers.
Adults can also enjoy a cup of chamomile tea to soothe the nervous system, allaying stress and irritability, and thereby promoting calmness.
Chamomile’s common genus name, Matricaria, insinuates its affinity for women and mothers. The tea can be drunk to bring on delayed menses, reduce uterine cramping, and relieve heartburn when pregnant.
Chamomile is easily prepared as a tea. To make it by the cup, steep one teaspoon of dried chamomile for ten minutes. This makes a delicious tasting tea. For a more medicinal brew you can steep it for 30 minutes.
I especially like making a tincture from the fresh flowers. I use this convenient herbal preparation for everything from menstrual cramping, to digestive issues to restlessness. Add a little honey and you've got an incredible elixir.
Fresh chamomile flowers also infuse well into honey.
Herbalist, Gail Faith Edwards reports in her book Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs that the Inuit people used steams of chamomile to relieve lung congestion. I first heard of this from John and Kimberly Gallagher
Besides helping to clear congestion it also works as a simple beauty regimen.
Place a couple handfuls of dried chamomile flowers in a large bowl. Pour one or two cups of some boiling water in the bowl.
Place your head over the bowl and place a towel over your head so that it also covers the bowl.
Inhale deeply, enjoying the warmth as it spreads through the respiratory system.
Keep some handkerchiefs nearby to periodically remove mucous from the body as it becomes loosened.