Chamomile has been used since ancient times by the Romans and Egyptians. It retains its popularity even today. Chamomile tea can be found in just about every grocery store aisle. It is widely used as an alternative therapy for stress reduction. Chamomile seems to have a calming effect both on the nerves and on upset stomach. Chamomile grows just about everywhere and has one particularly interesting quality: its ability to heal sick plants that it is planted near.
Not only is chamomile good for calming nerves, but it can also be used to help heal skin problems. Research has found that the herb could help fight skin inflammation and irritation and reduce symptoms such as itching. One study suggested that chamomile could be used as a safer and more effective treatment than corticosteroids when it comes to healing skin disorders.
The whole plant has medicinal value, but most herbal preparations make use of the flower heads. Chamomile plants can have either single or double flowers. Research has shown that the single flower plant has stronger medicinal properties, but herbalists have directed that the double florets be used for medicinal purposes. This is because the powerful alkali contained in the single flowers can destroy the coating of the stomach and the bowels.
It is recommended that chamomile not be taken every day for long periods of time, as this could result in a ragweed allergy. Those with a known ragweed allergy should steer clear of chamomile. Chamomile should not be used with other sedatives or alcohol. Although considered a healing food, chamomile may interact with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin.
You can buy chamomile tea at the supermarket, but why not try making the tea yourself? Steep one tablespoon of chamomile flowers in one cup of water for 15 minutes. Drink half a cup up to five times a day for digestive problems. To make a calming tonic and to ease stressed nerves, combine chamomile with passionflower, skullcap, oats, or hops. If you want to try chamomile in tincture form, try a half to one teaspoon, three times per day. To treat skin problems, look for a topical cream containing chamomile — there are many such creams commercially available.