Chamomile – (Matricaria recutita)

Chamomile comes in many different forms; the most common are German chamomile (Marticaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).  Both have been used since ancient times for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties, and each offers their own additional health benefits.  Roman chamomile is the less popular of the two but neither variety is rare.  They both have small white flowers with yellow centers and look similar to daisies.  The two are often used interchangeably.even though they come from different species.  It is difficult to differentiate between the two, but not impossible.  A key differences can be found by comparing the yellow center’s of the flowers. The German variety has has a high domed center, while the Roman flower center is lower and more rounded.  Also, the Roman variety is a perennial and the German type is an annual.

Throughout history both varieties have been used to treat asthma, inflammation, fever, nausea, colic and other childhood issues, skin diseases and even cancer.   It’s healing properties come from the white and yellow flowers.  They contain volatile oils (including bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B, and matricin) as well as flavonoids and other therapeutic substances.  In ancient Anglo-Saxon times, chamomile flowers were chewed to relieve toothaches; today it’s used as a mouth rinse for sore gums, gingivitis, and inflammation.

Chamomile can be used as a tea by steeping the crushed flowers (2-3 teaspoonfuls) in a cup of boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.  For a soothing bath, add 1 cup of the dried flower petals to hot water and soak.

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