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chamomile

 

Synonym: German chamomile

botanical name: Matricaria recutita


Kamille

 

True chamomile originated in the eastern Mediterranean area. Today it is grown almost worldwide, in Germany as well as in Argentina, Egypt, Hungary and Spain also in culture. Wild chamomile is meanwhile rarely seen in Germany.

 

Availability

Chamomile blooms from May to June. The blossoms themselves can be bought in pharmacies but also in tea shops. They are sold dried and either alone or as components of various tea mixtures.

 

Appearance, taste, characteristics

The annual plant grows to a height of 15-50 cm and belongs to the Compositae. It grows on fields, at roadsides, on embankments and on dumps and is often confused with mayweed, scentless chamomile or feverfew.

 

It is easy to differentiate chamomile from other similar-looking plants, however, on the basis of its inflorescence. On the end of the stem is a yellow flower head surrounded by a hollow receptacle; i.e. the white petals are vaulted downward. Other species of chamomile do not have hollow receptacles.

 

Ingredients

True chamomile contains many essential oils, among them bisabolol. It also contains coumarin, flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and mucins, which can soothe the pain of irritated mucous membranes.

 

Presumed effect on health

Chamomile has numerous healing effects in the human body. It helps in inflammation of the digestive tract, the respiratory tract and the skin, and it alleviates cramps. More precisely, it is the essential oils and the flavonoids that are responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects of chamomile, as flavonoids also alleviate cramps. Chamomile blossom oils or tea made of the flowers can be used. In the preparation of chamomile tea, however, only a rather small amount of the active substances is extracted from the flowers, while 50-70% remains unused.

 

The effect of chamomile is based on the inhibition of growth of various fungi and bacteria and the prevention of the formation of inflammatory messenger substances, i.e. of substances that work against inflammation.

 

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Chamomile is used predominantly for pharmaceutical purposes. It can be applied topically, for instance for inflamed gums, bacterial skin diseases, or ailments of the respiratory tract and sinuses; to this end it is inhaled. Wounds can be cleaned with it and further treated; the germ-inhibiting and skin-soothing effect can be used to advantage.

 

Chamomile oils can be used for abdominal and back pain. Such oil is easy to make: Take two handfuls of chamomile flowers and crush them in a mortar. Put them in a bottle and pour in one litre of olive oil or sesame oil. After one week, sieve the oil and discard the flowers. The oil can be used for soothing massages and for daily body care. The addition of fennel, lavender and Roman chamomile will enhance the pain-relieving effect.

 

Chamomile is also a component of numerous herbal tea mixtures and is sometimes used as a seasoning. The taste of both beef and herbal liqueur can be enhanced with chamomile.

 

 

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