Materia Medica - Chamomile
Chamomile is a gentle but highly effective herb best known for calming anxiety, soothing digestion and aiding sleep. It can also be used externally to treat wounds, bruises and rashes.
Latin Binomial: Matricaria recutita (German chamomile), Chamaemelum nobile, Anthemis nobilis (Roman chamomile)
Common Name(s): Chamomile, German Chamomile (“true” Chamomile), May Weed, Manzanilla, Roman Chamomile
TCM Name: Huang Chu Ju
Ayurvedic Name(s): n/a
Family: Asteraceae (daisy family)
Physical Description of the Plant: German chamomile is an annual plant with large blossoms that self seeds and grows up to three feet tall. It has an erect stem with finely divided feathery leaves. The terminal flower heads are surrounded by evenly spaced white florets with yellow central discs. The whole plant is aromatic. Roman chamomile is similar in appearance to German chamomile, but is a hardier low-growing perennial, growing only 3-4 inches high. It has terminal single flowers with white florets and a yellow center. The flowers are smaller and produce less chamazulene (the characteristic blue essential oil), resulting in a clear essential oil.
Habitat: German and Roman Chamomile are cultivated in temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. German chamomile is said to be native to Spain, later introduced to the rest of Europe. Chamomile prefers full sun and sandy moist soil, and a short cool season. Manzanilla grows in the deserts of Mexico and the Southwest U.S. Roman Chamomile is more commonly found in European gardens, where it is used as a ground cover to fill in between path and patio pavers since it spreads through creeping rootstock.
Harvest and Collection: Harvest flowers when they bloom in June and July in temperate zones.
Parts of the Plant Used: The flowers of both varieties are the most medicinal part of the plant.
Qualities: Soothing, aromatic
Energetics: Slightly Cool, Astringent
Taste: Roman – Bitter, Aromatic. German – Sweet, aromatic infused as tea; steeping longer releases its bitter principle
Flavonoids (luteolin, apigenin, quercetin)
Terpenoids (α-bisabolol, α-bisabolol oxide A and B, chamazulene)
Angelic and tiglic acid esters
Flavonoids: quercetin, apigenin, luteolin
Terpenoids: chamazulene, bisabolol
Eastern: Moves Qi/Releases Qi Stagnation: emotional upsets, anxiety, headache, nightmares, depression, irregular menses with clotting, PMS, stomach ulcers. Tonifies the Liver: poor appetite, hypochondriac pain, swollen abdomen. Stops Inflammation/Soothes Pain: sore throat, cramps, stomach spasms, wounds, bruises, skin rashes. Strengthens the Stomach: nausea, aids digestion, promotes smooth bowels. Releases to the Exterior/Clears Heat/Stops Cough: colds, flus, fevers, asthma, bronchitis, chills and fevers at the Shao Yang and Shao Yin stages. Moves Blood/Calms Shen: menstrual cramps, difficult menses, insomnia, anxiety, lowers blood pressure, palpitations.
Meridians: Lungs, Heart, Stomach
Indications: Hyperactivity in children, teething pain, restlessness, digestive cramps, gas and bloating, uterine cramps, PMS symptoms; inflammation including joint pain, autoimmunity, chronic skin conditions.
Contraindications/Cautions: Contraindicated for anyone allergic to flowers in the Asteraceae family. Otherwise safe for infants and children, pregnancy and lactation.
Drug Interactions: Use caution with CNS depressants, such as opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines tricyclic antidepressants, anaesthetics, or anti-epileptics. Avoid with Warfarin and related anticoagulant medications.
Tincture: fresh preparation of Chamomile will extract more volatile oils - 1:2 at 50%-60%; dry tincture 1:5 in 40% alcohol. Dose: 30 drops.
Infusion: 2-4 g of fresh plant to 1 cup hot water; steep 10 -20 with a lid on to prevent the escape of steam that carries the volatile oils with spasmolytic and inflammatory modulation actions. Dried preparations procure more bitterness, better for the GI and digestion.
Can also be used as an eyewash or mouth rinse.
Combinations: Combines well with other relaxing nervines, such as lemon balm and linden. Combine with peppermint and lemon balm for children’s fevers.
Folklore: Chamomile has been used since ancient times by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. The Greeks called it Kamaimelon, kamai meaning on the ground and melon meaning apple - together meaning ground apple. This refers to Roman Chamomile’s closeness to the ground and characteristic sweet apple scent. Likewise, its Welsh name is “camri” meaning footsteps or walk. The Mayans used chamomile to help lift the spirit and the Egyptians offered the blossoms to the Sun God, Ra. In the Middle Ages it was popular for treating colds, fevers, inflammations and nausea. The herb can be used internally or externally.
Manzanilla, also called pinapple weed, means “little apples” and has similar uses as German and Roman chamomiles. In Mexican folklore it is used to soothe the stomach, ease digestion and support strong lungs, preventing asthma and allergies.
Chamomile was also used as a brewing agent before hops, and it was included in recipes for the ancient preparation absinthe.
Flower Essence: Calms sensitivities, irritations and “raw nerves” where the “emotional skin” interacts with the world around you. Supports easily digesting experiences so they can comfortably be incorporated into your new understanding of life. Cultivates peaceful ease with daily life. Calms the peripheral nervous system. Channels the gentle and warming sun to promote rest and relaxation. Soothing to the stomach and solar plexus.
Applications: Fevers, sinusitis, painful or delayed menses, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, emotional upset, insomnia, infant colic, indigestion, nausea, peptic and duodenal ulcers, leaky gut syndrome, diverticulitis, heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease.
Recipes: (Sajah Popham)
General GI Formula
20% Dandelion root p(Taraxacum officinale)
20% Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
20% Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
20% Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
15% Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
5% Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
Gut Restoration Formula (for conditions such as diverticulitis or leaky gut)
20% Plantain (Plantago major)
20% Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
20% Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
20% Wood Betony (Stachys officinalis)
10% Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
5% Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
5% Marshmallow (Althea officinalis)
Nerve Tonic Formula (to replenish the nervous system and improve sleep)
20% Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
20% Skullcap (scutellaria lateriflora)
20% Milky Oats (Avena sativa)
15% Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)
15% Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum)
10% Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata)
Chamomile Ale: (Stephen Buhner)
2 gallons water
juice of one lemon
8 ounces dried chamomile
2 pounds sugar
Boil chamomile and water for one hour; cool, strain, pour into fermenter, and add yeast. Ferment until complete. Prime bottles, siphon, and cap. Ready in one week.
The effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people: A clinical trial.
Adib-Hajbaghery, Mousavi. Complement Ther Med. 2017 Dec;35:109-114. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.09.010. Epub 2017 Oct 13.
The prevalence of insomnia increases with age. Chamomile is among the medicinal plants which are used as tranquilizer. Yet, there is inadequate experimental and clinical evidence regarding its hypnotic effects. This study sought to evaluate the effects of chamomile extract on sleep quality among elderly people.
A single-blind randomized controlled trial was performed.
A convenient sample of sixty elderly people who aged sixty or more and lived in Kahrizak day care nursing home, Karaj, Iran, were randomly allocated to a control and a treatment group. The treatment group received chamomile extract capsules (200mg) twice a day for 28 consecutive days while the control group received wheat flour capsules (200mg) in the same manner. Using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, sleep quality was assessed immediately before, two weeks after beginning, immediately after the completion, and two weeks after the completion of the intervention. The data were analyzed via the independent-sample t, Chi-square, and Fisher's exact tests as well as the repeated measures analysis of variance.
The means of age in the control and the treatment groups were 70.73±6.44 and 69.36±4.99, respectively. Except for the habitual sleep efficiency component of the Sleep Quality Index, the study groups did not differ significantly from each other at baseline regarding the scores of the other components of the index. Moreover, at baseline, sleep quality in both groups was low, with no statistically significant between-group difference (P=0.639). However, after the intervention, sleep quality in the treatment group was significantly better than the control group (P<0.05).
The use of chamomile extract can significantly improve sleep quality among elderly people. Thus, it can be used as a safe modality for promoting elderly people's sleep.