Ingredient Spotlight: Chamomile
What’s not to love about chamomile? It’s an adorable, fluffy little flower bud with a sweet smell and an equally sweet honey flavor when steeped. In a fast-paced world of traffic jams, political turmoil, and overstimulation, nature’s calming flower can help us slow our roll. Chamomile calms the mind and eases anxiety. This natural herbal tea uplifts, without a prescription or side effects. Bright yellow and white, it depicts lightness and sunshine. It’s a little flower with a positive attitude! But, chamomile is more than just a pretty face.
Chamomile has been used since ancient times to treat a variety of ailments. Modern scientific research has confirmed that volatile oils, flavonoids, and phytochemicals in chamomile have significant health benefits. Bisabolol has shown promise in a number of studies, and can reduce inflammation caused by lipopolysaccharides. Chamazulene and matricine were also found to have anti-inflammatory properties that were similar to fully synthetic medications, yet they are found naturally in the chamomile flower. Lab tests have revealed that the flavonoid apigenin suppresses cancer cells.
- Reduces depression and anxiety naturally without side effects
- Increases milk production in nursing mothers and stimulates lactation
- Helps reduce inflammation and damage for stomach ulcers
- Protects and strengthens the kidneys
- Natural treatment for insomnia
- Relaxes muscles and helps to relieve sore muscles and spasms
Chamomile has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments, both mental and physical. Chamomile can be used for stress reduction. It has a calming effect and can settle the mind, allowing the drinker to relax. It can be used to reduce anxiety and calm the nervous system. It also relaxes the muscles, relieving stress-related tension in the body.
The calming effect of chamomile tea is not reserved for the mind! As a topical solution, and as a beverage, it calms irritation and inflammation. Chamomile flowers applied to the skin can soothe redness. Drinking the tea can help to alleviate symptoms of IBS, bloating, and digestive discomfort. Drinking chamomile after a meal can also aid the digestive process.
The dainty chamomile flower has a rich history and has been revered since ancient days. Depictions of chamomile flowers can be found as far back as hieroglyphics from ancient Egypt. Egyptian nobles utilized the crushed herb as a cosmetic for calming skin inflammation. It was also a major ingredient used in the embalming fluid for mummifying and preserving pharoahs. The bright flower was associated with Ra, the sun god and the creator. The etymology of the name “chamomile” can be traced back to the ancient Greek “chamomaela,” or “ground apple.” The sweet smell and taste of chamomile probably awarded it such a name. Dioscorides, a major physician during the reign of Nero, is said to have used chamomile as a treatment for digestive, nervous, and liver diseases. In ancient Rome, Pliny came to find similar medicinal uses for the herb; It was used to treat liver and kidney inflammation. In the Anglo-Saxon settlements of ancient England, chamomile was held in very high esteem and dubbed one of the nine sacred herbs.
How It Grows
Chamomile is a hearty herb that grows well in many different climates. It is native to Eastern Europe. However, chamomile is now grown pretty much worldwide. Hungary and India are the major producers of chamomile for distribution. Demand for chamomile is high, and it is utilized as a tea and an oil for its medicinal properties.
How To Drink
When selecting and brewing chamomile tea for its medicinal properties, it's important to choose high quality organic leave. Full leaf, organic chamomile that is not mixed with any other ingredients will provide the most potent availability of flavonoids and volatile oils. Loose leaf chamomile tea will provide more nutrients than crushed flowers available in bag form. A strainer that provides space for the leaves to become fully immersed will help to extract the most out of the leaves. The recommended brewing temperature is boiling, or 212 degrees. The tea should be steeped between 5 and 7 minutes.
A brewed mug of chamomile also has some added aromatherapeutic benefits. The scent of chamomile is calming and relaxing, and can ease the drinker and settle the nerves.
Chamomile has a natural sweetness, and the taste has been likened to apples. Honey or natural sugar can enhance the sweetness already present in the brew. It also tastes quite nice with a splash of milk or cream, and takes on a light refreshing flavor -- like milk and honey! If you are utilizing chamomile for its sleep-inducing and calming properties, be wary of adding too much sweetener, as sugar has a stimulating effect.
List of Contraindications and Side Effects
Studies have proven chamomile to be a safe treatment for babies. There is a lot of conflicting information regarding the safety of consuming chamomile tea while pregnant. For this, it is best to consult with your doctor. Chamomile is in the daisy family, and individuals allergic to ragweed or pollen may also be allergic to chamomile. Drinking chamomile tea can cause a multiplier effect when taken with anxiolytics (prescription anxiety medications), specifically benzodiazepines. For safety, it is not recommended to mix the two. Chamomile can also increase the effects of anticoagulant medications.
A Cup Of Calm
Brewing up a cup of chamomile can be a soothing experience. Whether you’re stressed at work or can’t fall asleep at home, it can help to soothe you. In addition, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a healthy drink that can benefits everything from digestion to the skin! Being well-rested and calm eases the mind and body, leading to an overall feeling of well-being. Why not steep a hot mug of chamomile and simmer down?