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 Herbal Materia Medica: Chamomile  
Matricaria recutita

Part used: Flowering tops

Constituents: There is a wealth of information about the whole range of components. However, this does not tell us much about the value and benefits of the herb as used in healing. The activity of the whole plant is always more than the sum of its parts, just as a person is more than the sum of their biochemistry. Herbal medicine treats the unique individual and not just the disease present. Herbs can be very powerful in addressing symptomology, but we limit their potential if we stay at this level. Knowing the chemistry of sesquiterpenes is not the same as knowing Chamomile!

The essential oil is a wonderful blend of many individual oils. In addition to a wonderful aroma, these oils all have anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-microbial activity in the body. When freshly distilled this oil is blue due to the presence of azulene. Some of the other components of the oil include a-bisabolol, chamazulene, farnesene and herniarin.

Following much pharmacological research, the a-bisabolol has been credited with the ulcer-protective properties of the herb and chamazulene as the main anti-inflammatory. It has been suggested that there is a stimulation of local prostaglandin synthesis, thus strengthening the protective mucosal barrier against ulceration. Azulene imparts the deep blue colour to the essential oil.

Major constituents of Matricaria recutita & their actions.

Constituent Properties
cyclic sesquiterpene
cyclic sesquiterpene
anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic
bisabolol oxide
isomeric cyclic sesquiterpene
anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic
alkylated flavonoid
anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic
alkylated flavonoid
anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic
alkylated flavonoid
anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic

Important flavonoids have been found that include quercimeritin, which is involved in the reduction of capillary fragility. Other relevant constituents are anthemic acid, anthemidine, tannin and matricarin.

Actions: Nervine, anti-spasmodic, carminative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, bitter, vulnerary

Indications: A comprehensive list of Chamomiles' medical uses would be very long. Included would be insomnia, anxiety, menopausal depression, loss of appetite, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, colic, aches and pains of flu, migraine, neuralgia, teething, vertigo, motion sickness, conjunctivitis, inflamed skin, urticaria etc. etc.. This may seem too good to be true, but it reflects the wide range of actions in the body.

It is probably the most widely used relaxing nervine herb in the western world. It relaxes and tones the nervous system, and is especially valuable where anxiety and tension produce digestive symptoms such as gas, colic pains or evenulcers. This ability to focus on physical symptoms as well as underlaying psychological tension is one of the great benefits of herbal remedies in stress and anxiety problems. Safe in all types of stress and anxiety related problems, it makes a wonderful late night tea to ensure restful sleep. It is helpful with anxious children or teething infants, where it is used as an addition to the bath.

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 About The Author
David Hoffmann BSc (Hons), MNIMHWhilst working in conservation and lecturing in ecology and the eco-crisis for the University of Wales, David Hoffman became convinced that to heal the world, to embrace planetary wholeness and responsibility for it......more
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