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Chamomile, known as Matricaria chamomilla, is an annual herbaceous plant of the Asteraceae family. Annual as a plant but also for those who like me make good use of it in summer and winter, steaming or not, too precious to give it up. Its name derives from the Greek χαμαίμηλον (chamáimēlon), a word formed by χαμαί (chamái), “of the ground”  + μήλον (mḗlon).
It is a rather difficult call to understand, at least for me, at least compared to others we have already seen, as in the case of sunflower or ofDevil's claw. And instead the name of the chamomile it is such because it gives off the smell of rennet apple. This olfactory hint remains in Spanish too: it is called "manzanilla", from manzana, which means "apple".
The first name, however, Matricaria, refers to a completely different thing: it comes from the Latin mātrīx, mātrīcis, means "uterus", and recalls how chamomile is an excellent sedative for menstrual disorders. However, this is not the first reason why this plant has been known since ancient times, at the time it was appreciated above all for its sedative and calming properties, as well as for the hypoglycemic effects, useful in case of diabetes.
Chamomile: the plant
The meaning of the name has anticipated it: the plant of the chamomile is deeply aromatic. Starting from the roots, "taproot", there are then the stems that are more or less branched only in the final part and generally do not exceed 50 cm. This if spontaneously, otherwise when it comes to chamomile cultivated, it can easily reach 80 cm. In addition to the stem there are also the leaves, oblong in shape, and then the flowers, small and gathered in flower heads with a diameter of 1 or 2 cm.
In this floral miniature, however, there is an external part, of whiter elements, and an internal part formed by tubular flowers with yellow corolla. L'aromatic smell so pleasant comes from these little golden gems that contain a characteristic essence consisting of the active ingredient azulene. In addition to this, there is a mixture of other substances with cryptic names such as salicylic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, alpha-bisabolol.
Enchanted by the flowers, let's not forget the fruit: it is a cipsela about 1 mm in length, clear in color and without pappus. Nothing special but for completeness it could not be omitted.
The plant of the chamomile it is widespread in Europe and Asia, "its zones", but also in other continents it can be considered naturalized by now. It grows serenely and spontaneously in the meadows and in the open countryside, not at great heights, it is certainly not a mountain plant like thearnica, however, it also adapts well to poor or acid soils. As for its seasons, it has a spring-summer vegetation cycle, it blooms in late spring and continues throughout the summer.
Then you can pick the flowers by capturing that moment of the year when they lost yes i petals they are not dry yet, and even damaged, on the plant. Got a good amount of flower heads of chamomile, arrange them in thin layers in the shade, then store them in hermetically sealed glass containers to be placed away from sources of light and humidity. And here's ours chamomile ready for use. Which, now we see.
Locally and internally the chamomile has strong properties anti-inflammatory and it is known to be one of the most effective calming remedies, typically also for neuralgic phenomena such as sciatica, trigeminal lumbago and torticollis. It is not magic, or witchcraft, but thanks to certain components of the essential oil, to one flavonoid component and to the lactones matricin and des-acetyl-matricarin. Strange names but which apparently do very well, almost as if we were using cortisone: there are those who compare them.
In addition to being digestive, the chamomile it also has spasmolytic properties, which is why it is used for dysmenorrhea, intestinal cramps in nervous subjects, muscle spasms and rheumatism. From medicine to cosmetics, but not just aesthetics, also to take care of skin and hair. And we find the chamomile as a nutrient for our hair, as well as for the scalp.
It is good and also a little blond, in fact it lightens those who are already a little blond but over time tends to brown. In these cases it is customary to prepare an infusion of chamomile flowers, letting it cool, filtering it and then applying it regularly after shampooing. Twice a week and we'll stay blonde as long as possible.
Chamomile: benefits and effects
Among the best known effects that are attached to chamomile there are sedative ones. "but make yourself a chamomile": How many times have we said it or, more frequently in my case, have we heard it? Yet the sedative effects are not only not among the strengths of this plant, but they are also all to be verified. There chamomile, in fact, it has not hypno-inducing active ingredients, as are the officinal herbs that are officially used against insomnia.
As already mentioned, theeffect it is instead that of producing muscle relaxation, antispasm, therefore. Other effects related to its herbal teas are to cause the expulsion of excess intestinal gas, promote digestion and produce an improvement in the functionality of the gastrointestinal system. In addition to drinking it, the chamomile we can also use it for nebulizations, anti-stress liniments, compresses, eye drops and mouthwashes. It is not uncommon to find it associated with mallow.
In homeopathic medicine we find this plant, or rather its flowers, also used for problems associated with teething and for various childhood diseases such as ear infections, colic and numerous behavioral problems. It is therefore not anti insomnia but undoubtedly gives a feeling of pleasant relaxation with calming effect on nervousness and anxiety. So even the insomniacs can only take advantage of it.
Last benefit of the chamomile to mention is the one on the eyes: soaked compresses are a relief that those who have tired, red eyes, or suffer from conjunctivitis. We can also use them simply to purify the skin and to help wounds heal.
Chamomile: how to grow the plant
Better soil, sowing, gestures of care and time for harvesting: to learn how to cultivate plant from scratch just read our article "How to grow chamomile”, Drink at least two sips of a herbal tea based on, and roll up your sleeves.
Chamomile: how to grow it in pots
If you don't have a garden but at all costs you want to sip one home-made herbal tea, or make a wrap soaked with it, here are all the instructions on how to get these precious and fragrant flowers starting from a pot and a seed. In the article "How to grow chamomile in pots”Is all explained.
Chamomile: where to buy seeds
To buy seeds with which to test one's patience and produce chamomile in the house or in the garden, and then offer a cup to guests, or ourselves, here is a convenient opportunity. A package of selected and protected seeds in a double bag for less than 10 euros. They are to be planted about 5 cm deep, waiting for and taking care of the seedlings as recommended above.
From the effects described, it is easy to imagine that the chamomile does not bring with it particular contraindications. At most on some incorrigibly nervous subjects it might not have a great effect: let's not expect miracles. The only occasion for which oral or otherwiseuse of chamomile can create problems is the presence of allergic reactions. Usually, if they appear, they are due to the presence of sesquiterpene lactones in the plant.
Chamomile in pregnancy
In general the chamomile appears among the herbal teas granted during the period of pregnancy. It is clear that we must have measure in consuming them. If in doubt, however, it is always better to seek medical advice. It is what has the most calming effect, I would say.
Chamomile for newborns
There chamomile in infants and young children in general, it is used both orally and as an ingredient for the preparation of hygiene and care products. As there are no particular contraindications and the effects are mild, it can be used since birth.
Topically, i.e. in cleansers, oils and soothing creams, I mean, but not only. Also for example as a basis for compresses to relieve conjunctivitis disorders. In theory, herbal teas do not hurt, even during the first months of life but it is better to wait until the end of the breastfeeding period which is often based on milk only.