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Chamomile » Homemade Remedies for Your Health


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When the day has frazzled your nerves to the extent that you feel like pulling your hair out, it’s time to sit down and have a nice cup of chamomile tea. And your nerves aren’t the only thing chamomile tea is good at soothing: This herb is wonderful for easing digestive distress, skin irritations, and occasional mild insomnia.


rooted in history
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea is made from the tiny daisy-like flowers of a lacy-leafed plant that now grows all over the world. This delicate, apple-scented beverage has been soothing folks for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks. The world’s first great healers—Hippocrates, Asclepius, Dioscorides, and Galen—all documented its use.


Back in the day, chamomile tea provided a medicine chest’s worth of useful remedies. Its list of treatable conditions included cold-related symptoms, stomach and gastrointestinal problems, toothaches, convulsions, and insomnia. People used chamomile as a gargle or antiseptic wash and inhaled the tea’s steam to reduce congestion and clear up irritations throughout the respiratory tract.


Historically, midwives treated pregnancy and childbirth issues with chamomile tea. Today, despite reservations that chamomile’s effect on uterine muscles could stimulate uterine contractions, the tea is generally considered safe for pregnant women. Healers also soaked poultices in a hot chamomile infusion to soothe back pain, gout, earaches, skin inflammations, bruises, and arthritis.


what’s in it?
Chamomile contains a handful of major healing components. Among them are chamazulene and alpha-bisabolol. Chamazulene, formed during the heating of the tea or extract, has proven anti-inflammatory activity. Alpha-bis abolol is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory, and can promote the healing of ulcers, burns, and eczema. Chamomile’s volatile oils help expel digestive gas, relax muscles, kill bacteria, and have a sedative effect.


what science says
Recently, science proved that the ancients were right on target when they prescribed chamomile tea to calm frayed nerves. In 2009, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania conducted a gold standard clinical trial (meaning that it was placebo-controlled and neither the researchers nor the participants knew whether they were getting a real or a sham treatment) to study chamomile’s effects on people with generalized anxiety disorder. Fifty-seven people with mild to moderate anxiety disorder took either chamomile as an extract or a fake treatment daily for eight weeks. The researchers reported that folks in the chamomile group had significantly improved scores—meaning they were less anxious—on standardized tests than those who took the sham treatment.


enjoy a cup (or three) of comfort
When you drink chamomile tea regularly (two or three cups every day), it can protect against peptic ulcers; ease irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and stomach cramps; and act as a gentle, natural tranquilizer. What’s more, chamomile tea can prevent muscle spasms and relax the smooth muscles that line the internal organs, such as the stomach and the uterus, making it a good remedy for easing stomach upsets and menstrual cramps.
Even though chamomile flowers contain pollen and may cause an allergic reaction when ingested or applied externally, researchers have found that chamomile may have antiallergenic properties. The potential effect is attributed to the as-yet-unconfirmed histamine-blocking action of chemical compounds called azulenes.


Good to Know


Chamomile may cause an allergic reaction among those sensitive to ragweed and other members of the aster family, induding chrysanthemums. To be on the safe side, avoid taking chamomile if you have asthma. The flowers contain pollen and may cause dermatitis, although allergic skin reactions are rare. Chamomile may increase the effects of sedating drugs and blood- thinning drugs.




Find chamomile tea bags in the tea section of the super market or in health food stores. Look for tiny daisy— like flowers inside the bags and a pleasant, apple aroma. Discard tea bags that aren’t fragrant—they’ve likely lost their healing power Pour boiling water over one to three tea bags, cover the cup, steep for 10 minutes, then enjoy. Traditionally, the recommended medicinal dosage calls for drinking one cup three or four times a day to heal digestive complaints. One strong cup before bed time can ease mild insomnia.


A soothing bedtime story

Chamomile tea’s abilrty to calm jangled nerves was immortalized in Beatrix Potter’s famous children’s story The Tote of Peter Robbit, treasured by children for more than 100 years. Against his mother’s wishes, lithe Peter sneaks into Mc McGregor’s garden, eats too much, is chased by McGregor and catches a chill while hiding in a watering can. When Peter arrives home, he doesn’t feel well. His mother puts him to bed early with a dose of chamomile tea tablespoonful to be taken at bed time—which is still a common remedy for ailing and anxious children.



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