Although I live in Melbourne, the city of coffee, I’m way too sensitive to have caffeine. Chamomile is my coffee. I have chamomile tea everyday. Sometimes I mix it with other flavors and herbs like cinnamon, vanilla, lemon balm, ginger or honey. It’s like a little pot of calmness to settle the nervous system and digestion.
You might not know this but your digestive system is really like a second brain. The brain and digestive system are one; what affects the brain will affect the gut and vice versa. So now when you think of anxiety and stress you really must look at the digestive system as well.
The connection between the brain and the gut is becoming more obvious and foods that may aggravate the gut like gluten/wheat are being linked to brain problems like anxiety and depression. Most of the “feel good” hormone serotonin is actually made in your gut so the health and function of your digestive system is important in order for you to feel good!
HERE ARE SOME OF THE USES FOR CHAMOMILE
Chamomile for children
- Chamomile is a great herb for children who are restless, frequently have upset tummy’s or babies who are teething.
Chamomile and skin
- Chamomile calms inflammation, especially around the eyes and mouth. Use it as a compress or gargle with it. It can be used for styes, conjunctivitis or sore throats.
- It’s also helpful topically for healing skin problems such as wounds, rashes, dry and sensitive skin, allergies. wrinkles, inflammation, eczema, burns.
Chamomile for sleep & anxiety:
- Chamomile has been found to decrease anxiety and also improve sleep.
- A flavonoid in chamomile, called apigenin, has shown to have a calming affect on the body.
- Chamomile has been found to increase glycine in the body, which is an amino acid that acts as a nerve and muscle relaxant.
- Apparently taking chamomile over longer periods e.g. 3-12 months, increases it’s efficacy too, so don’t give up on it too fast! The even better news about chamomile is that unlike pharmaceutical drugs like xanax and his friends, chamomile has no side effects.
- I was also interested to read that chamomile may improve sleep that’s associated with inflammation caused by allergies. Are your allergies keeping you up at night too? Hmm something for me to look into further.
Chamomile for your tummy
- The slightly bitter flavor of chamomile has an effect on the liver, stimulating secretion of bile and enzymes which improves digestive function.
- Chamomile’s calming affect on the nervous system makes it a great remedy for a “nervous stomach” by indirectly treating the apparent cause of the stomach upset which is anxiety, stress or nerves.
- Chamomile also soothes the digestive lining, decreases inflammation and relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract which reduces pain, gas and tension.
You can take chamomile in capsule form, as an infusion and even put the fresh flowers in your food like smoothies and salads! Give it a try and see if you notice any effect on your nervous system.
- Anti-spasmodic, uterine tonic
- Carminative/ eases digestion or flatulence
- May have anti-cancer properties (apigenin shows promise)
- Vulnerary/wound healer
Quick guide to Chamomile uses
- nervous tummy and tension
- Gas, bloating, stomach cramps/pain + indigestion
- Gastritis, peptic ulcers + reflux
- Babies: colic + teething
- Gingivitis to reduce inflammation
- Topical wound healing
- Nervous system: restlessness, anxiety, insomnia
- Painful periods or cramps
- Sore throat
- Potentially anti-cancer
Caution: If you are allergic to ragweed, daisies or chrysanthenums, you may be allergic to chamomile too as they are all in the same family.
Tea Recipe for anxiety and nervous stomach
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger sliced thinly
- 1 tsp dried chamomile flowers
- 1 tsp Lemon balm (if you don’t have lemon balm simply use another tsp chamomile)
Infuse all ingredients in boiling water for 10 minutes, strain and serve with honey to taste.
Further reading & sources:
Amsterdam JD, Li Y, Soeller I, Rockwell K, Mao JJ, Shults J. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2009 Aug;29(4):378-82.