Common name: Chamomile
Parts used: Flowers
Native Region: Originally recorded in in Codex Ebers in ancient Egypt, this plant spread to Europe around the first century A.D. It was essential in monastery gardens during the Middle Ages. European colonists introduced it into the Americas. Today it is found from Newfoundland west to Minnesota and south to Pennsylvania. 
Botanical Description: An annual herb growing up to 20 inches tall, German chamomile has an erect, much branched, cylindrical stem and light green leaves that are finely divided and almost feathery looking. Single daisy like flowerhead (May – October), ¾ inch across, with fifteen white, strap shaped, reflexed ray florets and numerous tubular yellow, perfect florets.The conical flower receptacles are hollow. The blooms have an apple like smell. 
Growing: Grows along roadsides, in other waste places as well as in herb gardens around the world. It is easily grown from seed and self sows freely. From sowing seed to flowering, chamomile is a short-lived annual, lasting about 8 weeks, germinating in early spring and completing its growing cycle by the end of June. German chamomile likes full sun and will grow in almost any soil. It does well in sandy loam with good drainage. It doesn’t like summer heat.  The double flowered plants need a richer soil and gives the heaviest corp of blooms in moist, stiffish loam. The usual manner of increasing stock to ensure double-flowers is from sets or runners of the old plants. Each plant normally produces from twelve to fourteen set. Divide them in March and set in well-manured soil in rows 2 ½ feet apart and 18” between plants. Weed by hand. 
Harvesting: Harvest the flower heads and allow to dry.
Constituents: The flowers, though aromatic, have Avery bitter taste. They contain volatile oil, a bitter extractive and little tannic acid. 
Culinary Uses: The bitter taste on our tongue creates a cascade of events that promotes our digestive function. A strong cup of chamomile tea provides this bitter taste, promoting healthy digestion. Chamomile is available commercially in tea bags or as dried flowers you can use to make your own. Use 1.2 cup of flowers to a pint of just-boiled water. Let it step for 20-30 minutes.  Try this recipe for Camomile popsicles.
Medicinal Uses: Benefits of Camomile include: 
1. 1. Soothes anxiety and promotes relaxation
2. Calms an upset stomach, treats gas and acid reflux symptoms, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea and vomiting
3. Modulates inflammation, reduces pain, relieves congestion, swelling and redness
4. Supports the fever process
5. Relieves menstrual crams
Camomile is a high source of antioxidants – terpenoid group are associated with better immune function; reduced pain and swelling; lower rates of mood disorders; and healthier skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes.
Evidence shows positive effects of chamomile stopping cancerous tumor growth, due to the apigenin antioxidants. These bioactive constituents appear to help fight skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.
Camomile promotes smooth, healthy skin and relieves irritations. The flavonoids and essential oils penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers preserving its youthful appearance, complexion and immune defenses.
It can also fight various bacterial infections of the oral cavity, teeth and gums.
In addition, recently chamomile has been associated with providing cardio vascular protection, especially in elderly men.
In addition to the dried flowers available as whole flowers or dry powder, chamomile essential oils or tinctures are available commercially. Blend it with lavender in an aromatherapy treatment to ease tension, relax and fall asleep easily.  For additional chamomile recipes visit Dr. Axe.
1. Johnson, Rebecca, Steven Foster, Thieraona Low Dog, MD. and David Kiefer, MD, National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs, 144
2. Reader’s Digest, Magic and Medicine of Plants, ©1986, 195
Billie Nicholson, Editor