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Chamomile (matricaria recutita)

St John’s Wort

Its summertime and, just ahead of the Summer Solstice, I’d like to introduce you to this month’s sleep-friendly herb – the beautifully delicate Chamomile.

Chamomile is a member of the sunflower and daisy family (asteraceae) and why it looks so much like a daisy! The main difference between Daisy and Chamomile plants is that, in Chamomile, the central, golden pollen buds grow taller, and the petals begin to point downwards.

There are two main types of Chamomile – Roman and German – and while the German variety has been more researched, it is Roman Chamomile that you are more likely to find in herbal teas. Roman Chamomile is native to Europe and North Africa and has been used herbally for centuries.

The herbal extract is gathered when the plant is in full bloom at the sun’s zenith, during June and July. Some say it has an aroma of overripe apples.

Historical Uses

Valued by the Ancient Egyptians over 4,000 years ago, it was considered to be sacred and was dedicated to the Sun God Ra. The religious rituals were performed at dawn, just as the tiny Chamomile flower opened its petals.

Ancient Arabic doctors used Chamomile and in the 18th century, herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote, ‘…bathing with a decoction of Chamomile taketh away weariness’. In Victorian times Chamomile and Lavender were used as calmatives for those with hysteria.

Around the home, the flowers have also been used for centuries to scent clothing and bed linen, made into potpourris, strewn on the floor to help deter fleas and other insects and used to help freshen the air.

Modern Therapeutic Uses

Herbal

Today, Chamomile is used mainly for insomnia, allergies and digestive complaints, as well as for its excellent anti inflammatory qualities.

Chamomile reigns supreme as the herb for insomnia and anxiety. Indigestion and gastritis are common uses also because of its overall calming properties. It is effective as a mouthwash for inflammatory conditions such as gingivitis as well as being used as an eye wash to soothe sore eyes. It can be used as a gargle for sore throats. It is a superb wound healer too.

Herbal treatment of anxiety, stress and associated insomnia is well documented, as well as indigestion, especially where there is a nervous element. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the gut and mind are connected (the gut is known as the Second Brain) and medical science has confirmed that the connection comes via the Vagus Nerve.

While I do not suggest you rush out and buy the herbal remedy, I wanted to share with you the broad and action of the remedy that can be used to help manage your health differently as opposed to relying on pharmaceutical drugs that all have side effects.

NB: Always use herbs and homeopathy under the guidance of a professional herbalist or homeopath.

Homeopathic

The keynote uses for use of homeopathic Chamomilla (German Chamomile) is any condition presenting in angry, impatient, uncivil and oversensitive persons. It is often needed after an angry outburst – either being the angry person or witnessing discourse.

Pain wherever it is, is unendurable – colic, neuralgia, toothache, earache labour pains, etc. People needing this remedy are irritable, bad-tempered, can hit out and send carers away. They are so sensitive, they cannot bear to be looked at. They seem to want one thing to comfort them, then pushes or throws it away.

People needing this remedy demand instant relief. The screaming cannot be ignored by those around them. This remedy works miracles in babies with teething, colic and tummy problems and associated anger, screaming and for babies. See my Baby Sleepability page for more information.

Two physical leading characteristics are that one cheek is pink/red whereas the other is pale. There is usually a change in stool to hot green, watery and slimy – with characteristic colic or cramping pains. Just think of the nappies of teething babies – but I’ve prescribed this remedy many times for adults who have not been well since an emotional upset.

While many homeopathic remedies are available at independent chemists and health food shops like Holland & Barrett, for quick and optimum results, it is recommended that you seek the help of a professional and fully qualified Homeopath who can skilfully individualise your prescription.

Why not book a free 20 minute SleepTalk here?

Medical Research

Medical research has identified that Chamomile is an all round panacea in terms of health- bringing properties. Studies have shown that it has high levels of antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, cancer-modulating properties and wound healing.

Chamomile is sleep-friendly too!

The high antioxidant content of Chamomile, as well as its gently sedative properties, makes Chamomile a super sleep friendly herb, especially to those with anxiety. Vitamin C is also a precursor of the production of natural antidepressant neurotransmitters (e.g. Serotonin) so is an important herb to improve and maintain mental health.

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know about my holy trinity: gut health = sleep = immunity. Added to that, the bidirectional link between sleep and mental health, anything that helps you sleep will help your mental health and wellbeing generally. Check out my Gut Health Blog here. Or you can tune in to my 20 minute Gut Health Wellness Webinar

So why aren’t we singing about it from the rooftops?

In a word: profit! You can’t patent (commercialise) natural remedies, hence the relentless and myopic quest to isolate active components and synthesise them in a lab for mass production (vs individuality). This equates to a very profitable commercial model!

But here’s where I believe the pharmaceutical industry gets it wrong: focussing on what it considers to be the active component of the plant only. The problem with this approach is that traditional therapists and herbalists know it is the symbiotic interaction of the whole plant that brings the full therapeutic effect as a tonic, rendering the herbal remedy less toxic in terms of side effects.

Here’s a reminder from the very wise Hippocrates, ‘ foolish the doctor who despises and negates the knowledge acquired by the ancients.’

How to get your Chamomile fix

Herbal teas are a safe and pleasant way to introduce Chamomile into your wellbeing routine. One or two cups daily would be great. If you’re struggling to sleep, start drinking in the early evening so that it’s calming effects can begin to help you.

Check out the excellent Natural Dispensary – an online shop packed full with an impressive range of branded natural health products and supplements. Place your order through me and I’ll send you a link through which you can pay and get delivery direct to your door. As a thank you from me, you’ll receive 15% off RRP.

Neal’s Yard Organic Essential Oils

Why not switch to organic and sustainable skincare at my Neal’s Yard Remedies page? I have used their oils and remedies for over 20 years, both personally and professionally, and their quality, provenance, ethics and sustainability are second to none.

Sleepability loves and recommends the excellent Roman Chamomile Essential Oil for it’s aromatherapeutic qualities. There is also a range of products devoted to better sleep, which will of course have a beneficial effect on your wellbeing and mental health. You can visit my shop here – Neal’s Yard shop. There’s 10% off for orders via me or for direct orders, receive a free gift as a ‘thank you’ from me.

Better still, contact me for individualised, professional homeopathic help to optimise your health and wellbeing.

Why not book a free 20 minute SleepTalk here?

Contact me for individualised, professional homeopathic help to optimise your health and wellbeing.

Invest in your rest. Because sleep matters.

Caution: if you are on any medication, please consult your local herbalist for expert advice. Some herbal remedies can interact with medication (because they are effective!) Most proprietary herbal supplements and teas are very low dose but it is recommended that you check before self-prescribing.

References

1 1 Hoffman, David, 1990: ‘Holistic Herbal’; Thorsons; ISBN-13 978-0-00-714541-6

2 Chamomile – Herb Facts – www.herbfacts.co.uk

3 The History of Chamomile Tea – www.wiseapetea.com

4 Murphy, R ND, 2000: ‘Homeopathic Remedy Guide, Second Edition’; H.A.N.A. Press; ISBN: 0-9635764-0-2

5 McKay, DL., et al, 2006: ‘A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea’: Phytotherapy Research – paper

6 Gyllenhaal C, 2000; ‘Efficacy and safety of herbal stimulants and sedatives in sleep disorders’; Sleep Med Rev – paper

7 Amsterdam, J. D. et al, 2012: ‘Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) May Have Antidepressant Activity in Anxious Depressed Humans – An Exploratory Study’; Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine – paper

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