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chamomile flowers

Relax with Chamomile

Chamomile is a friendly, down-to-earth sort of plant, with many applications.

German v. Roman Chamomile

German chamomile has been classified by botanists as Matricaria recutital, M. recutita, Chamomilla recutita and Matricaria chamomilla, while Roman chamomile has been classified both as Anthemis nobilis and Chamaemelum nobile. Roman is the common chamomile of England; it was first dubbed Roman chamomile in 1598, when the plant grew abundantly near Rome. It’s an aromatic perennial that creeps along the ground, reaching only about one foot in height. (As a matter of fact, the name chamomile comes from the Greek chamos (ground) and melos (apple), a reference to its mildly apple scent. German chamomile is a sweet-scented annual that grows to about 2 1/2 feet in height. While in England Roman chamomile is preferred, in Europe and the U.S. the German is more popular. There are genetic and chemical differences between the two chamomiles, but both are widely cultivated in Europe and America, and they are similarly used in beauty products, tinctures, extracts, salves and compresses. Chamomile tea is enjoyed alone or in tea blends. In fact, according to one estimate, over one million cups of chamomile tea are drunk worldwide every day!

Ask the Experts

bulk dried chamomile flowersChamomile seems so soothing. Will a chamomile bath help a sunburn?

Yes, that’s a great idea. But for even more real relief, soak a tablespoon of chamomile flowers in 2 tablespoons of witch hazel for ten minutes, then strain. Add a teaspoon of honey. Dab onto the sunburn. Rinse off after 15 minutes or so.

I’ve heard of people having allergic reactions to chamomile. How common is this?

Allergic reactions to chamomile are rare, but possible. If you’re allergic to ragweed, aster and chrysanthemums (members of the Asteraceae family), it’s possible that you may also react to chamomile. (If taken internally, you might have some bronchial constriction, and if used topically, you might have a skin reaction.) Often when people have allergic reactions to chamomile, though, the plants are not true chamomile, but one of a number of “mayweeds” or other plants that are commonly called chamomile. If you grow your own true chamomile or purchase it from a company that positively identifies the plant, you’re much less likely to have problems with
chamomile allergies.

Ways to Use Chamomile:
Get the lowdown on the many uses of chamomile

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