Chamomile

Chamomile is one of the most renewed herbs. Many people that try our tea would ask: “is it chamomile?” as I will explain later on,  we do not use chamomile in our teas but we do use it in some of the salves and tinctures.  Chamomile is known to be a gentle safe herb so it is favored for internal and external use.

The Greek named it  'ground-apple' - kamai (on the ground) and melon (an apple) - the origin of the name Chamomile. It is believed that chamomile was used in the mummification process for its ability to balance nitrogen process and prevent fortification. In herbal folklore and myths, chamomile attracts money and good fortune. A handful of chamomile, added to the bath, is believed to attract love and all kinds of winnings. Sprinkled around the house, chamomile repels negative energy, curses and spells, while ensuring good and prosperous fortune to the residents.

Chamomile flowers are yellow in the middle with a crown of white florets.  In the context of the doctrine of signature white is a symbol of purity and yellow a symbol of joy, sunny disposition. Surprisingly, the color of chamomile oil is blue which signify cool, calm, clean and is an indication for an antispasmodic herb. The coloring agent, Azulene, is responsible for chamomile’s potent anti-inflammatory benefits and antioxidant protection. However, this is just one of the many active compounds found in chamomile, whose amazing holistic effect on our health is nothing but the result of all of the components working together.

Julia Graves writes:

“The air element is often found where there is nothing-in a finely feathered leaf such as those of chamomile; where the body of the leaf should be, there is a void filled with air, and just the ribs are left to form a feather.”

Here in New Hampshire we seed chamomile in mid-April. Chamomile is a self seeding annual so it will renew itself every year. Scattering some extra seeds and compost ensure a lush fragrant chamomile bed. Chamomile like many other member in the Compositae family thrives in a sunny dry spot in the garden. The herbs in this family are strongly related to the sun. They seem to bring light and warmth of the sun  into the area of the body that they are indicated for. The alchemists associated plants with planets. Chamomile was associated with the sun partially because it opens and close with the sun.

In mid summer in mid morning when the dew has dried but before the heat of noon we will sit between the chamomile flowers and harvest the disk like flowers when they are open horizontally. We pick the flowers one by one (Johnny's carry a chamomile rake but I never learned how to use it) and immediately dry it in our drying room. Because we pick the small flowers by hand we can not harvest very large amount of flowers that will be needed in order to sell it as a tea. Since harvesting chamomile is a labor of love most if not all of the chamomile flowers that are sold in the U.S.A market are imported. Therefore, their quality and purity is questioned. Growing and harvesting chamomile is a easy, soothing and rewarding experience that is highly recommended. 

Chamomile is indicated as a remedy for indigestion specifically for colic, gas, cramps, diarrhea and loss of appetite.  Ehrenfied Pfeiffer, who developed sensitive crystallization, was able to show the similarity of the crystallization image of extract of chamomile and that of the small intestine. Chamomile flowers that were infused for 30 minutes will produce a bitter tea that promote digestion.

Chamomile is also known to calm and soothe stressful anxious body and mind.  Chamomile tea and chamomile oil are safe for children and babies who have trouble sleeping or are under stress. “In harmony” is an extract of chamomile combined with lemon balm, skullcap and rosemary that is designed to relax the nervous system and calm the mind.

Peter was not very well during the evening. His mother put him to bed, and made some chamomile tea: "One table-spoonful to be taken at bedtime.”

― Beatrix Potter, The Tale of Peter Rabbit

Use chamomile tea or chamomile infused oil to massage a colicky irritable babies and young children.

Rosemary Gladstar recommends chamomile as an mild but effective remedy for delayed or irregular menstruation.  Especially helpful in these conditions that may be triggered by stress, anxiety, and tension. Chamomile contains spiroether, a very strong antispasmodic agent that relaxes aching, tense muscles and alleviates premenstrual pain. Chamomile is an excellent healing agent in douche formulas and sitz baths to treat vaginitis and yeast infection.

Chamomile contains compounds that are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory; one of these, the lovely blue chamazulene, is noted for promoting tissue regeneration. The anti-inflammatory effect of the essential oil applied topically improves skin regeneration. Skin washes and baths with chamomile tea can calm skin inflammations. Baby bumbalm that contains the gentle infused oil of chamomile is a good ally to the sensitive skin of babies in cases of diaper rush.

In the early fall we will meet with our neighbors at the Temple-Wilton community farm to prepare the Biodynamic chamomile preparation. The fresh cow intestines is filled with chamomile flowers that have been harvested and dried during the summer. Before stuffing the intestines, we moisten the flowers with chamomile tea. The “sausage”, is then buried in the ground where the snow will stay longest. For easy finding and protection, its sometimes buried inside a terracotta pot. These sausages are left in the ground until spring. The chamomile preparation is added to the compost pile together with the other BD compost preparations, in small amount – about 1 tea-spoon per ton of manure or plants material.

In my understanding chamomile is able to take hold of the air element both in human and in the compost. By managing the air element in the digestion (gas), it prevents and treat food  fermentation in the intestines that results in cramps and bloating. By Keeping in check  the astral winds of emotions it sooth anxiety, stress and promote vitality. By stabilizing nitrogen in the compost pile it Promotes a good breakdown of proteins in the compost to humic plant nutrients. By retaining nitrogen and calcium, the BD 503 preparation helps to strengthen the plant's regenerative life activity.