Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) is a herbaceous annual plant of the Asteraceae family. It is an annual plant with elongated flowering leaves, often without leaves.
The Chamomilla Matricaria belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, the Kingdom Plantae, the Spermatophyta Super Division, the Magnoliophyta Division, the Magnoliopsida Class, the Asteridae Subclass, the Asterales Order, the Asteraceae Family, the Asteroideae Subfamily, the Anthemideae Tribes, the Matricarius Subtribution and then the Genus Matricaria and the Species M. Camomilla .
The name of the chamomile comes from the Greek χαμαίμηλον (chamáimēlon). This word is formed by χαμαί (chamái), “soil” + μήλον (mḗlon), “apple” in reference to the smell that emits that resembles that of the renetta apple; This derivation is also preserved in the Spanish name manzanilla, from manzana, meaning “apple”. The name of the genus, Matricaria, comes from the Latin mātrīx, mātrīcis, which means “uterus”, with reference to the calming power that this plant exerts in menstrual disturbances.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The chamomilla species is widespread in Europe and Asia and is also naturalized on other continents but its distribution is not cosmopolitan and presents many important gaps. It grows spontaneously in meadows and open countryside, it often becomes intrusive as an insect crop of agrarian crops. It often infects cereal crops and is present in the uninitiated, along the streets, at homes, in landfills and in gardens. The altimetric distribution ranges from 0 to 800 m and rarely moves up to 1,500 m s.l.m.
Chamomilla Matricaria is a rustic species that also adapts to poor, moderately saline, acidic soils. The vegetation cycle is spring-summer, with late spring flowering and during the summer.
The chamomile plant has roots in stitches and a bushy growth, with more stems leaving the base, more or less branched into the upper portion. The height usually does not exceed 50 cm in spontaneous forms, while in cultivated varieties it can reach 80 cm. The plant is extremely aromatic.
It has alternate and sessile leaves, oblong. The lamina is two or three-pointed, with very narrow linear lacinias.
The flowers are gathered in small caps with conical and cable receptacle. The external flowers have the white ligula, the inner ones are tubular with yellow corolla. Capsules of 1-2 cm diameter are clustered in corpus peaks. These flowers have a pleasant aromatic odor and contain a characteristic essence of the active substance azulene and a mixture of other substances (salicylic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, alpha-bisabolol).
The fruit of the chamomile is a csip about 1 mm in length, light color, without pappa.
Chamomile is a wild plant that grows in Italy throughout the territory. It prefers dry terrain of uncultivated fields or country paths. Chamomilla Matricaria can often be confused with Chamomilla Inodora, which differs from the first one due to the total lack of aroma, hence its medicinal properties and the peel that is empty.
Despite growing in the wild, it is possible to grow the chamomile both in the plain and in the hills. To do this you must choose places with good exposure, where the soil is dry, poor and slightly calcareous.
The multiplication of this annual is done by division of the bushes or using the seeds produced by the pea before the full bloom.
Seeding takes place in seedling in the summer months, so that it can be transplanted in young plants early in the fall. You can also opt for a sowing directly in the ground, this should be done preferably in the spring months: during sowing small seeds should be added with sand so that they can be distributed evenly.
When the first leaves come out, it is advisable to run a thinning, spacing each plant from about 15 to 25 inches apart.
In the first stage of growth, up to the enhancement of the radical apparatus, the camomile needs constant moisture, then it will be able to withstand even drought periods.
It is important to remove the soil from mites, as they could prevent the development of the chamomile. It happens very often that the chamomile, when cultivated, is able to disseminate itself.
Chamomile harvesting takes place in full bloom, this is the time when the plant is richer in active ingredients. Despite being very fragrant, only the caps are used, because in these the active principle is concentrated.
Uses and Traditions –
The history of the camomile is bright and ancient. There are many legends that interweave its unmistakable scent. Perhaps it is the most famous officinal plant in the world. There are those who, in the past, washed their hands in chamomile water, sure to bring luck. There is someone hiding her flower in her pocket because she trusts in the spells of love. Only a small and light flower, enough to change the fate of the most unlikely courtship. Because of its gentle and relaxing aroma, there are also those who, with the chamomile, bathe, who burns it like incense, who meditates in his company.
To discover its properties first were the Egyptians, as is evidenced in the Ebers Papyrus dated 1506 BC Roughly, written in ieratic, guardian of a large number of medical prescriptions, magic formulas and remedies. The Nile people used chamomile especially to lower the fever and to cure and beautify the skin. According to them it looked like the sun, so they consecrated it to the god Rà. Chamomile also speak Hippocrates, father of medicine, and Pliny, Roman naturalist. They recommended her to soothe many aches, such as headaches. Indian ayurvedic doctors used it in the same way.
In the filling of the Pharaoh Ramsete II mummy, traces of pollen from Camomilla were found, with the likely intention of infusing the strength and calm they needed to face the journey into the realm of the dead.
The Greek doctor Dioscoride and the Roman naturalist Plinio advised Camomile in the treatment of headache and kidney, liver and bladder disorders. Germans use Camomile from ancient times to cure digestive disorders and relieve menstrual pain.
English herbalist Culpeper recommended her to cure fever, digestive problems, aches, herpes, kidney stones, and emmenagogue properties.
The eclectic American physicians of the nineteenth century recommended Camomilla to accelerate wound healing, infusions for digestive problems, menstrual cramps and all problems related to childbirth.
Instead Chabrol de Volvic, Napoleonic Prefect, in his “Statistics” dating to the early nineteenth century, cites Camomile among the harmful plants that cause severe damage to wheat cultivation.
Above all, Camomilla is so popular that many call it alles zutraut, “capable of everything”. No doubt an exaggeration, but the chamomile really works in many cases.
In medieval times medieval monks, when coming out of the convents and descending together in the valleys, often used to seize their bouquets. They did it in late spring and then spread fragrant petals during sacred ceremonies. They were the first to notice his extraordinary quality wonderfully. If it was planted next to a diseased shrub it happened that this cured. In fact, the chamomile keeps the insects away and thus protects the vegetable gardens today as it is yesterday.
Chamomile is one of the first plants to be “exported” for its undisputed qualities. He arrived in England, where he was celebrated in modern times by Beatrix Potter, exquisite mom of Peter Rabbit. It was discovered by an English botanist in the ruins of the Coliseum, growing undisturbed among the ancient stones in the company of other maladies. It was 1600 and came up there, while in America it was carried by colonists across the Ocean.
For many, his loving perfume, he refers to childhood and good thoughts, all that can be done before resting serene. It is a symbol of purity and fortune. Because of this, his little flowers also speak poetry, like the one dedicated to camomile by Katherine Mansfield. The poet describes a clear night of stars, a distant sea that rumbling, an almond tree shaken by the wind. And a hot chamomile cup to sip in two.
Chamomilla Matricaria is a bitter, aromatic, sedative, spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, healing herb. It has beneficial action on digestion and stimulates the immune system.
The main constituents of chamomile are: essential oil containing bisabobol and camazulene (responsible for blue color) and guaiazulene, farnesene, flavonides, hydroxycumarines (including mainly apigenine, quercetin, apiin and luteolin), mucilages, tannins and matricin and des- Acetyl-matrix.
Chamomile boasts countless uses. It can be used for internal use in the case of stomach pain of nervous origin, insomnia, chinosis, children’s disorders, such as toothache, colic convulsions. No one knew for what reason Camomile was effective in the prevention of infections, until some British researchers found that grass stimulates the white blood cells of the immune system that have the task of fighting infections. An infusion is therefore beneficial in case of colds or flu.
For external use in case of wounds, sunburn, burns, hemorrhoids, mastitis, and ulcers in the lower limbs.
Care should be taken in its use as chamomile may have additive effects when associated with sedatives or alcohol. It should not be assumed by any allergy to its components or other species belonging to the Asteraceae family (Arnica, Achillea, etc.).
Among other uses, remember that chamomile is added to cosmetics as antiallergenic and hair preparations as fixative and clarifying.
Used to aromatize vermouth-like wines and liquors, we find it as a flavoring in jams, chewing gum and candies.
Small bags of dried flowers, as well as already ready-made chamomile bags, stored in drawers and cabinets, remove taroms and other insects from our lingerie. Always dried flowers in the past were used as pipe tobacco. Its infusion is able to accelerate the decomposition of the organic residues of the kitchen, in fact, mixing everything with soil and chamomile infusion, you get an excellent natural fertilizer.
It should be noted that when we talk about Camomilla, we need to distinguish between two plants: Matricaria chamomilla L. (= Matricaria recutita L.) – common chamomile or German chamomile and Chamaemelum noble (L.) All (= Anthemis nobilis L.) – Roman camomile or English chamomile.
Both of them produce the same essential blue-colored oil, which has been used since ancient times for healing properties. They have therapeutic action and similar clinical indications even though, as a whole, the Roman camomile has a more bland activity; Instead, it manifests greater emmenagogic action. They are often mixed in herbal preparations using two parts of Matricaria chamomilla and one of Chamaemelum noble; Chamomile infusion is less bitter than Roman chamomile herbal tea.
Of this plant are usually harvested flowers, preferably after losing petals but before they have dried on the plant itself. A common method of collecting is to move the stems of the plant between the fingers (or between the teeth of special combs) in such a way as to collect only the flowers, avoiding a long cleaning phase. The heads are dried by placing them in thin layers in the shade; They are then stored in hermetic glass containers sheltered from sources of light and moisture.
These flowers produce infusions that are known to be used for their painfully sedative effects. In addition to oral administration, it is possible to use chamomile preparations also for nebulisations, anti-stress linings, wraps, collars and collutors (the latter also with malva).
Chamomile has good anti-inflammatory properties, both local and internal, and is a calming remedy typical of the neuralgic phenomena (sciatica, trigeminal, lumbago and throat). Its anti-inflammatory power with the same active ingredient (in weight) was compared to that of cortisone. Other flavonoids present (eupatuletin, quercimetrine) and coumarin are responsible for digestive and spasmolytic properties. These combinations of active ingredients make it a good solution to dysmenorrhea, intestinal cramps in nerve bodies, muscle spasms and rheumatism. Herbal teas obtained with this plant also cause the expulsion of excess gas gut.
In homeopathy, chamomile is recommended for problems associated with teething, premenstrual syndrome and various childhood illnesses such as otitis, colic, and many behavioral problems.
Preparation Mode –
Chamomile can be prepared for indoor use –
To seduce the spasms of the stomach, intestines. It is useful against kidney and biliary colic. For those who suffer from gas as it regulates the intestines. In case of heavy digestion, calm nausea and vomiting, it slightly stimulates appetite. It lowers fever and stimulates breathing. Calm the head aches and some neuralgia. It is antiallergic.
You can get an Infusion as follows: Prepare with 5-10g of inflorescences in a liter of water (about 5-6 inflorescences per cup): take from 3 to 6 hot cups a day.
For outdoor use camomile is an allergy especially when combining internal use (herbal tea) with the exterior (peeling, nasal irrigations). Wash wounds, ulcers and skin infections. In case of conjunctivitis or eye irritation. Against hemorrhoids through anal washings.
With chamomile it is possible to do eye, nasal or anal washings. They are made with a slightly more concentrated infusion than the one for internal use (up to 50 g of inflorescences in a liter); Let it rest for 15-20 minutes and filter carefully before using it. To seduce the spasms of the stomach and the intestines. It is useful against kidney and biliary colic. It is used as an anti-inflammatory for eczema, eruptions and other skin diseases.
Also for therapeutic use it is possible to relax the bathroom.
This is prepared by adding to the water from the 2 to 4 liter tank of concentrated infusion; These warm-water baths perform an effective relaxing and soothing action.
Camomile can be used with wraps. With concentrated infusion, they apply on the area of the skin wound. And this also applies to lumbago, torsion, rheumatic pain and bruising.
Clutches with chamomile oil can be made, which is prepared by heating in a bain-marie, for 3 hours, 100 g of inflorescences in half a liter of olive oil; The oil is filtered and stored in a bottle.
The chamomile’s nutritional properties are known to the hair and to the scalp; It is also used to lighten blond hair that with time tends to brown: for these purposes you must prepare a chamomile flower infuser, let it cool down, filter it and then use it regularly after the shampoo, at least once or twice a week.
Finally a recipe that can be prepared using chamomile heads: take slices of whole bread, preferably the day before, rub them with a clove of garlic and sprinkle them with the yellow capsules of fresh chamomile flowers. Place them aligned on the oven plate covered with a lightly oil-colored aluminum foil. Spread on each of them a pinch of salt and one of the ground pepper at the time and a dash of olive oil. Heat the oven to 200 ° C and put toasted bruschetta for 10 minutes and then serve it warm.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, tips and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Please note: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgici uses are indicated for information purposes only, do not represent in any way a medical prescription; it accepts no liability on their use for therapeutic purposes, cosmetic or food.