Chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. It is a member of Asteraceae/Compositae family and represented by two common varieties viz. German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).The flower of this plant has a characteristic fruity fragrance and is daisy-like in appearance. It has a yellow center that is around 1- 1.5 cm wide and white petals.
It is authentic to the Southern and Eastern parts of Europe.It found its way to India during the rule of the Mughal emperors and is currently grown in the Northern parts of the country. The most prominent producer of this plant is Hungary.
Chemical Constituents –
Essential oil and flower extracts derived from chamomile contain more than 120 chemical constituents, many of which are pharmacologically active. They include chamazulene (an anti-inflammatory), bisabolol (an oil with anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties), apigenin (a phytonutrient that acts as a strong anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral), and luteolin (a phytonutrient with potential anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer activity).
Parts Used –
The flowers and leaves of the plant are usually used, the flowers being the part that is most used. The flowers can be used fresh or dried.
The flowering tops of the this plant are used to make teas, liquid extracts, capsules, or tablets.
The herb can also be applied to the skin as a cream or an ointment, or used as a mouth rinse.
There is no standard dose of chamomile. Studies have used between 900 milligrams to 1200. milligrams daily in capsule form. The most common form is a tea, and some people drink one to four cups daily. To make chamomile tea, steep a chamomile tea bag or chamomile flowers in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes in a mug covered with a saucer. Then, drink the infusion when it has cooled to the point it is safe to drink.
The sedative nature of the plant calms nerves and reduces anxiety.
Inhaling chamomile vapours from using the chamomile oil or drinking chamomile tea, helps the herb to bind with the benzodiazepine receptors in the brain, acting as a mild sedative and hypnotic agent.
Chamomile is one of the most widely used alternative therapies for promoting sleep and treating insomnia
• Gastrointestinal Problems
Chamomile has been valued as a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. It has also been used to treat colic, croup, and fevers in children.
The inhaled vapours produce calmness and reduce pain and can be used in headaches that appear before seizures, during nervousness, and during episodes of hysteria.
• Inflammation (swelling)
Inflammation is an immune system reaction to fight infection. Chamomile tea contains chemical compounds that may reduce inflammation.
It’s flowers are extensively used alone, or combined with crushed poppy-heads, as a poultice or hot foment for inflammatory pain or congestive neuralgia, and in cases of external swelling, such as facial swelling associated with underlying infection or abscess.
Chamomile tea might have anti-estrogenic effects. It also helped promote bone density.
Osteoporosis is the progressive loss of bone density. This loss increases the risk of broken bones and stooped posture. While anyone can develop osteoporosis, it is most common among post-menopausal women. This tendency may be due to the effects of estrogen.
• Wound Healing
Topically applied chamomile may be able to speed wound healing. Chamomile can kill viruses and bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, the cause of staph infections, reduce inflammation, and prevent and treat the growth of ulcers.
Chamomile is often used to treat mild skin irritations, including sunburn, rashes, sores, and even eye inflammations, but its value in treating these conditions needs more research.
• Oral Health
Efficacy of chamomile mouthwash found that it significantly reduced gingivitis and plaque in comparison to controls, probably because of its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory activities.
Some studies have found that chamomile tea can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Side Effects –
Most experts say chamomile is safe. It can cause drowsiness and, in large doses, vomiting. It also has the potential to trigger allergic reactions in people who are allergic to related plants in the daisy family, although such reactions are very rare.
Chamomile contains coumarin, a naturally-occurring compound with anticoagulant or blood-thinning effects. It should not be combined with Coumadin (warfarin) or other medications or supplements that have the same effect or be used by people with bleeding disorders.
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