When I was growing up, chamomile tea and extract were known primarily as for their antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Bandages with chamomile were used on wounds to help with the healing, and the tea was drunk because it was thought to soothe the tissues along the digestive tract—and it does that.
It can also help with acne in some cases, in conjunction with other substances, and with its emollient qualities chamomile is definitely good for the skin, which is why so many lotions of the more natural kind include chamomile extract.
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That is all well and dandy but after reading Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain in my teens I have come to regard the flowers of Matricaria chamomilla (or recutita, a.k.a. German chamomile) as a general tonic for the body and mind. It’s not for nothing, I thought, that everyone at that sanatorium in the mountains seemed to drink this tea.
And recent studies have confirmed this finding of mine, based on Mann’s use of some traditional plant knowledge from his country and, perhaps, Switzerland as well (in the book, the sanatorium is at Davos in the Swiss Alps), and these days chamomile tea is known to be not only as a remedy for damaged skin or for its soothing, anti-inflammatory powers that help from everything from flatulence to stomach ulcers in the digestive system, but also as a tonic against anxiety and anxiety paired with depression, and stress, among other things. That doesn’t mean that it could ward off on its own anxiety and depression in people who are already struggling with these conditions (even as it may help in some ways—as always, talk to your doctor), but it certainly gives hope to so-far healthy people that they may use the powers of Matricaria chamomilla to continue to stay healthy.
NB: Make sure you avoid chamomile tea if you’re pregnant. This is because chamomile tea affects the uterus. It’s also best to stay away from it while breastfeeding. Also best to avoid it if you had or have cancers of the breast or ovary or uterus, and if you have or had endometriosis or uterine fibroids, because chamomile contains phytoestrogens. Also, consult with a doctor if you have pollen allergies—chamomile tea may help you, or, to the contrary, cause allergic reactions. According to NIH, there have been rare instances of anaphylaxis as well. They don’t say if those people have been allergic to related plants (ragweed, chrysanthemums, daisies, and others). NIH also warns interactions with drugs, including cyclosporin and warfarin. In addition, keep in mind that chamomile may interact with birth control pills, lowering their efficacy. This is not an exhaustive list, of course (here’s more from Drugs.com), which is why it’s always important to consult with your doctor(s).
Unfortunately the above warning speaks to many women, but if you’re not pregnant or breastfeeding and you’ve been lucky enough to have been spared the other conditions listed above, you may be interested in learning more about chamomile’s health benefits.
Chamomile checks the boxes for the trifecta of major health conditions in our age: it helps with high LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. Who would have known, right? And yet there are studies to prove all that.
It also promotes sleep—and it tastes much better paired with lemon balm (not to be confused with lemongrass), which also helps not only with better sleep but also with anxiety and stress—and is a good remedy if you have a cough, as it’s generally a soothing agent for mucous membranes (tissues).
Chamomile tea also has antioxidants that help fight against a number of cancers, including breast cancer and those afflicting the digestive tract.
So chamomile is not just for the skin or the digestive system. It’s much more powerful than that. And if you don’t particularly enjoy its taste (I know I find it off myself, but then many herbal teas do have a rather medicinal taste if you drink them plain), you can mix it with other herbal teas and you’ll barely notice it.
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Whichever way you choose to use the chamomile flowers, I suggest you go with “loose leaf tea” rather than tea bags that have only the dusty residue of these flowers. It’s actually best to go for loose leaf/flowers all the time, unless you buy a box with sampler tea bags or certain blends that are sold in separate sachets in order to preserve their blend proportions best, which is especially important if they include spices.
Here’s a good organic option from Teatulia, with pyramid tea bags.
(Note that Teatulia also offers the following organic herbal teas and true teas, plain or in blends, in the same premium, plant-based loose tea bags, all of them available from the link above: black, chai, Earl Grey, ginger green, neem, oolong, peppermint, rooibos, and white.)
By the way, chamomile is usually spelled camomile in British English, but the version with ch is actually true to the name’s etymology, the Greek chamaimelon, which means “earth/on the ground” + “apple” (chamomile has an apple-like aroma).
Back to various blends, if you want to mix the taste of chamomile tea with that of other herbal teas, one good option is to start with a base of rooibos chai to which you then add some teas with fruity flavors, such as some with hibiscus and berries. It may seem like too much, but it’s really good! You can also drink the rooibos chai as is, of course. It’s wonderful on its own as well.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found a few useful things in it. Please consider sharing it so that others could find it more easily too.
To a happier, healthier life,