Chamomile - Matricaria recutita

Why Get to know this plant:

Overall action of chamomile is slow and long-acting but the effect is long-lasting.

Gastrointestinal Conditions: chamomile provides a gentle sedative effect and strengthens the mucosal protective barrier, regulates pepsin and relaxes smooth muscle.  Indicated for nervous G.I. conditions such as stomach spasm and gas pains. Constipation is relieved by improvement of motor function and as a gastrointestinal spasmolytic. Diarrhea relieved of spasmolytic effect of cramping. Dyspepsia and gastro esophageal reflux disease, as an anti-inflammatory and spasmolytic. Symptomatic relief of nausea. Soothes the walls of the intestines, especially griping pains, relieves and calms inflammations such as gastritis.

Infections:  The volatile components may be inhaled most effectively from steam. They allow for deep and accurate penetration of medicinal agents to the whole respiratory system including the middle ear. Steam inhalation of Matricaria will clear congestion, soothe membranes, and reduce hypersensitivity reactions. The antimicrobial action helps the body to destroy or resisteye infections, gentle eye bath can be made for children or those with repeated eye infections.

Gynecologic Conditions: sedative effect in treatment of dysmenorrhea and relaxation of uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Inflammatory Conditions: allergic reactions involving IgE are decreased by down regulating the IgE mediators.

Relaxing Nervine: safe for use in all types of anxiety and stress-related disorders. Relaxes and tones nervous system especially useful when the anxiety and tension produce digestive symptoms. Late night tea ensures a restful sleep. Works on peripheral nerves and muscles; when physical body at ease, the mind and heart follow.

 

Where This Plant grows:

You should plant some chamomile in your garden because it is not native to our coast and has not spread to many wild spaces. It is easy to grow however and seeds planted in the early spring will lead to fully blossoming flowers throughout the summer, that can be harvested several times throughout the growth if you cut the flowers it will stimulate the plant to grow more flowers.

 

How to Grow chamomile:

Sprinkle seeds over an area and gently brush over the top of the soil to allow contact of seeds with the soil. If you want to start the seeds indoors or in a green house, use an easy to transplant container and sprinkle or plant the seeds only a few mm below the soil. Keep the soil moist all the time but careful not to flood the seeds with too much water at once. They should sprout in a week and kept in a warm sunny place. Once they are a few inches high you can transplant the seedlings to the outdoors (as long as the weather is warm enough, normally after May 1st).

 

Parts Used:

Flower tops harvested in the summer

 

Medicinal Actions:

Nervine, relaxant, antispasmotic, anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, anti-emetic, carminative, antimicrobial, bitter, vulnerary

 

Tips from Experience:

Flower tops are very aromatic when they are freshly harvested and will dry for tea after a few days to a week of setting them out in a ventilated dry place, free from sunlight.

 

herbal Constituents in the plant:

Volatile Oil: sesquiterpenes such as a-bisabolol, a-bisabolol oxides, chamazulene (converted to azulene); tricyclic alcohols, bicyclic alcohols, dicyclic ethers and matricin (to chamazulene)

Coumarins: umbelliferone, herniarin

Flavonoids: methoxylated flavones and flavonols, apigenin, luteolin, quercetin

Glycosides: salicyclic acid, choline, fatty acids, mucopolysaccharides

Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and tonify blood vessels and capillaries, they are also relaxing to smooth muscles, particularly of digestive tract. Flavonoid apigenin reported antianxiety activity by having significant affinity for central benzodiazepine receptors.

Volatile oils primarily responsible for its anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmotic and anti-microbial effects. (chamazuline) anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting formation of leukotriene B4 in neutrophils in dose dependant manner and blocked chemical peroxidation of arachidonic acid. Bisabolol, apigenin and azulene seem involved to inhibit the formation of 5-lipoxygenase and COX and have antioxidant action as well. a-bisabolol inhibited ulceration induced by stress in rats and demonstrated a significant protective effect against gastric toxicity.

a-bisabolol has demonstrated anti-microbial activity against S. aureus, Bacillus subtilis and Candida albicans. Chamomile extract demonstrated inhibition of growth of Streptococcus mutans, group B Streptococcus and Steptococcus salivarius.

Wound healing and itching by increased rate of wound contraction, increased wound breaking strength and hydroxyproline content with ointment of chamomile extract and linked to the anti-inflammatory activity of a-bisobolol.

 

References:

1. Hoffman, David. (2003) Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Healing Arts Press. Vermont USA. p. 565-566

2. Bone, Kerry and Mills, Simon. (2013) Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy. 2nd Edition. Modern Herbal Medicine. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. p. 476-486.

3. Trabace, L. et al. (2015) “Natural” relief of pregnancy-related symptoms and neonatal outcomes: above all do no harm. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. vol 174. p. 396-402

4. Wood, Matthew, (2008) The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books, California. p. 177-182