If you’re a foodie like me, you will love learning about a tiny flower that has some extraordinary health benefits. Not only that, but you can use it in desserts and culinary dishes.
What is this small flower, you may ask? Well, it has delicate white petals with a golden center, and chamomile is its name. With no surprise, this beautiful flower is related to the daisy family (Asteraceae or Compositae), and from what we know, there are two different types.
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is one type “and is a sweet-scented, smooth plant and self-seeding annual herb. It is native to Europe and Western Asia and has become widely distributed over Europe, North Africa, and the temperate region of Asia.”
The other type is Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile). “Roman chamomile is an aromatic, creeping perennial, found in dry fields and around gardens and cultivated grounds. It originated in the United Kingdom and is widely grown in American herb gardens.” –Integrative Medicine (Fourth Edition), 2018.
Now that you’ve been properly introduced, let’s learn how to use chamomile for everyday health and living.
According to Donna Eszlinger, chamomile was used mainly for medicinal purposes. “My grandmother, parents, and husband’s parents used it as a supplement for inflammation, to relax a person, to treat colds, for colicky babies, to calm the stomach, or relieve menstrual pain. Kind of like aspirin.” She also explains, “If you had a cold in your eye, they would make a compress by soaking a cloth in chamomile tea and then placing it on your eyes to take down the inflammation.”
When asked about the form in which she takes chamomile, Eszlinger said, “I prefer fresh over the tea bags because the tea bags are not as potent. It doesn’t have the full strength of the chamomile, at least not to my liking. I mean, people that haven’t had the actual flower maybe don’t know the difference, but if you’ve had the flower or raw form versus a teabag, you know it’s not as strong.”
Other medicinal uses are:
- A more restful sleep
According to Healthline, chamomile “contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia, or the chronic inability to sleep.
In one study, postpartum women who drank chamomile tea for two weeks reported better sleep quality compared to a group that did not drink chamomile tea. They also had fewer symptoms of depression, which is often linked with sleeping problems.”
Like many herbal teas, chamomile is easy on the stomach and is very relaxing and soothing. Drink one cup 30 minutes before bed to gain the best results for a peaceful night’s rest.
- To help soothe the stomach.
We know that Chamomile tea is easy to digest, and findings suggest it “may protect against diarrhea, stomach ulcers, nausea and gas, likely due to its anti-inflammatory effects.” -healthline.
- As a mouth rinse
“In dentistry, chamomile has been studied due to its anti-inflammatory properties. This plant has been tested by several researchers, with promising results. Chamomile is proved to reduce gingival inflammation and plaque accumulation without staining teeth nor having adverse effects. Therefore, this mouthwash has shown good results, statistically similar to chlorhexidine 0.12% after two weeks of regular mouth rinse.” -Dunker Dental Care.
Mouth Wash Rinse
- To make an herbal mouth wash, place 6 tablespoons of green tea and 3 tablespoons of chamomile in a French press or jar.
- Cover with cool distilled water or reverse osmosis water.
- Seal the container and then allow it to sit for at least 7 hours.
- You can lightly swirl the jar every couple of hours, but the mixture of mouth wash will not be ruined if you forget.
- At this point, press or strain out any particles remaining.
- In between uses, store it sealed in your refrigerator.
- Use morning and night.
Although it’s not proven that chamomile will take a headache away completely, it does relieve tension when drinking it in tea form. This is due to the anti-inflammatory properties and the soothing effect of releasing tension.
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Recent studies suggest that chamomile caused complete wound healing faster than corticosteroids. However, further studies are needed before it can be considered for clinical use.”
It is always best to prevent instead of finding a cure, but if the sniffles or common cold come knocking, “Studies indicate that inhaling steam with chamomile extract has been helpful in common cold symptoms.” Dr. Isern, a Cass County local, agrees that “Chamomile is a favorite herb of German peoples worldwide, including, of course, among our Germans from Russia. Their attachment to the plant probably increased during their sojourn in the Russian Empire – chamomile is the national flower of Russia.” Dr. Isern is one of many who raises chamomile in his garden. “I dry the flowers for tea; usually, I blend chamomile with mint or hyssop. I find it a little astringent by itself for my taste, but I suspect that very quality is why people believe the tea is a good remedy for colds.”
- To lighten hair
If you’re looking to add a little highlight without damaging your hair, then chamomile tea can also be useful. Just use “a mixture of chamomile tea (half a spray bottle), with a teaspoon of cinnamon and coconut oil, juice of 3 lemons and hot water (remaining part of the bottle).” -Sencha.
After you have the ingredients mixed, give a little shake to the bottle before spraying the solution onto your hair. This mixture will also help with split ends.
- As a hair rinse
We already know that chamomile is perfect for natural and hair salon highlights, but even more than adding a natural glow, it’s great to use as a hair rinse to restore and soothe your scalp. To do this, take a pot and place the chamomile flowers in it along with water. Steep and then let sit until the brew is lukewarm. Next, strain the mixture so no flowers remain, and pour the brew over your hair after shampooing.
- Helps with acne and acne scars
Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory with antioxidant properties, perfect in treating not only acne but acne scars. Because of the flower/herb’s duo and gentle ability, a person should drink it as tea and apply the tea bags to the affected area.
For best results, drink the tea and then apply the tea bags to the affected area or soak tea leaves in steeped and cooled chamomile tea; then use a fresh washcloth, soak it in the cooled brew place over acne scars. Leave for 10-15 minutes and repeat as needed.
- Dandruff remover
People have struggled with dandruff, scaly skin, or a dry scalp at one time in their life or another. So, how do you treat that without using a ton of toxins? One way is by using apple cider vinegar topically, and another is by brewing a chamomile tea that can be applied directly to the skin or scalp. The flowers also help strengthen the hair adding an extra benefit.
- Lightens and moisturizes the skin
Due to the same properties that help lighten your hair naturally, you can use chamomile to lighten and moisturize your skin, giving it a beautiful light glow.
- Can be used in the treatment of sunburns
Aloe is the go-to plant for sunburn treatment, but people have found that adding chamomile to the aloe and then applying it has additional healing benefits.
- Helps with pain
Cait Fortier RHN, BA, explained that “Chamomile has been used for hundreds of years to help reduce pain for those experiencing headaches, back pain, toothaches, and other inflammatory-related symptoms.” In addition, “A flavonoid called apigenin is one of the main anti-inflammatory compounds found in chamomile contributing to this effect.”
As a tea, take 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the flowers, cover them in hot water, and steep for five minutes. You can repeat this process three to four times per day.
Flowering the food
Beyond using chamomile for medicinal purposes, people can use it for culinary dishes.
“Most people know chamomile as a tea herb, but did you know that you can eat it like any other culinary herb as well? Ways to use chamomile flowers include mixing them into oatmeal and other cereals. Fresh chamomile blossoms and leaves are also enjoyable in salads. The leaves are bitter, so use them sparingly. Chamomile’s sweetness makes it well suited for dessert preparations such as ice cream and custards. It can make a great baking ingredient that works in cakes and other pastries.” –SPICEography
Be sure to look for fresh or dried chamomile that still has the blossoms on it. The flower is delicate and easily crumbles when dried; however, it’s worth it to be picky.
How do you store chamomile?
Like other herbs, once they are dried, store them in an airtight mason jar, a brown jar, or some type of container away from light and heat. However, if you want to use them for culinary purposes, put them in freshwater like cut flowers. You can also store steeped chamomile tea in a sealed pitcher in your refrigerator for up to a week or store fresh blossoms in a freezer.
For locals, chamomile is more than a flower or a healing remedy; it is about traditions we pass down from generation to generation. “When she was a first-grader, Judy Hooff lived with her grandparents during the school year. She recalled her Grandma Opp introduced her to chamomile tea, which grew in her garden. She picked the flowers, dried them on newspapers, and stored the chamomile in mason jars.
“Grandma thought chamomile tea was a cure-all for just about anything that ailed me,” said Hooff. “Tea compresses were applied to my eyes if I had pinkeye, or she used it as a tea if I had a tummy ache.” Hooff recalled that adding a spoonful of honey to the tea was always very soothing for her.” Hooff’s not only had the original seeds ‘that were the same strain of chamomile her ancestors brought with them from Germany and Russia when they immigrated to America,’ but she had the fond memories that went along with them.
Eszlinger warned, “If you have allergies, it could create a problem as it does have a little bit of coumarin in it.” Coumadin (warfarin) is derived from coumarin, a compound commonly found in plants such as chamomile that can have anticoagulant properties depending on its chemical structure.” -Very Well Health.
Coumadin is what people that have heart issues take sometimes as it slows down your body’s process of making clots, so if you’re on blood pressure meds, you should check with your doctor before taking any. Other than that, it is very healthy for you and can be considered an herbal remedy for multiple ailments.
In ending, you don’t have to be a health geek, herbalist, or Russian German to take advantage of chamomile’s remarkable healing properties. Russia’s national flower is for everyone.