Roman Chamomile - Effective Herb for Digestion Problems

Roman chamomile

Chamaemelum nobile Asteraceae/compositae


A small perennial, common in the dry areas of western and southern Europe, Roman chamomile has widely spreading stems that are covered in tiny jagged leaves. In summer, a single, daisy-like flower, its yellow centre surrounded by a ring of white petals, opens at the tip of each stem. The whole plant gives qff a poweiful, pleasant scent.


Parts used

  • Flower heads
  • The flowers are collected in spring, just as the buds begin to open. The harvesting is now largely mechanised but the flowers should be carefully examined to remove any insects.
  • The flowers can be used fresh, but their constituents will remain active for up to a year if they are properly dried in a dark, dry place.
  • Roman chamomile is mainly used for infusions and extracts and is a constituent of eye lotions, throat sprays, mouthwashes and pastilles.

Constituents

The plant contains coumarins and flavonoids, which have a digestive, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory action, and sesquiterpene lactones, which give it its bitter taste. There is also some essential oil.


Medicinal uses

Roman chamomile has long been used to treat digestive problems, such as sluggish digestion, bloating, belching and flatulence. The bitter sesquiterpene lactones stimulate the digestive juices, and the flavonoids and coumarins have antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory powers.


Recent studies have also shown that the essential oil has the ability to ease inflammation, too, as well as having an antidiuretic and sedative effect. Because of this soothing action, it is often included in preparations that are applied externally to treat skin ailments such as eczema, which can cause severe itching. It is also found in medicines used for treating eye irritations, sore throats, rhinitis and sinusitis, and in mouthwashes.Some herbalists also recommend the use of the plant's soothing actionfor insomnia, haemorrhoids and even menstruation problems


PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT digestive problems INFUSION Add 1 dessertspoon of flowerheads to a cup of boiling water, and leave to infuse for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink 3-4 cups a day.


For external use


TO TREAT eye irritations
EYE LOTION Use only commercially available sterile eye lotions. Follow directions given.


TO TREAT sore throat THROAT SPRAY Prepare an infusion (see above). Cool. Spray the back of the throat, two or three times a day.
TO TREAT rhinitis, sinusitis INHALATIONS Prepare an infusion (see above) two or three times a day. While it is still hot, inhale the steam rising from it.


IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR


Cultivation

Roman chamomile can be grown from seed. rootstock or young bought plants. Plant in spring in well-drained. light soil. preferably in a warm. sunny position.


CAUTIONS

Roman chamomile should not be taken when pregnant. as it can sometimes induce a miscarriage or harm the unborn child.


It is not advisable to use Roman chamomile when breastfeeding.


Asthma sufferers and individuals with a history of allergies to related plants. such as marigold and arnica, may also have an adverse reaction to Roman chamomile preparations, so should avoid them.



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