When I was a little girl growing up in Minnesota, my mother and grandmothers gave me chamomile tea when I was sick. It grew well in the Midwest and could be found in most gardens. Little did I know that there was so much more to the plants than helping stomach problems.
The Benefits of Chamomile
1. Calms stomach problems
This is probably what chamomile is best known for. It helps calm the stomach and gastrointestinal issues. It can also help with morning sickness during pregnancy.
2. Heals wounds
A salve made from chamomile can help speed healing of wounds. (Scroll down to see instructions for making the salve!) It’s been used as far back as ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.
3. Reduces swelling
Chamomile is a great anti-inflammatory herb. It can be used to help reduce swelling on wounds, and can even be used safely in the eye. For pink eye (conjunctivitis), make a weak tea and let it cool. Lie down and dab a wet cotton ball dipped in the tea on your eye. Be sure to get some in the eye itself. Leave for a few minutes. Do this several times a day.
4. Antioxidant properties
In addition to being a great tasting tea, chamomile is packed full of antioxidants.
5. Stabilizes blood sugar
Chamomile can help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. It can also be effective in raising blood sugar for those with hypoglycemia.
6. Antibacterial properties
Chamomile can help kill bacterial infections. It can also be used as a wound wash to kill bacteria in scrapes and cuts.
7. For colds and flu
Chamomile, used as a steam, in addition to tea, can help to shorten the duration of a cold or the flu.
8. Reduces muscle spasms
Chamomile contains the amino acid glycine, which has been shown to help calm muscle spasms. This is especially helpful for menstrual cramps. It calms the stomach at the same time and can help relieve symptoms of PMS.
9. Promotes sleep
Chamomile tea has long been used to help individuals sleep for longer periods of time.
10. Relieves hemorrhoids
Chamomile, taken internally, can help relieve hemorrhoids. It can also be used as a wash or applied directly to hemorrhoids with damp cotton balls.
11. For cancer
In addition to containing antioxidants, chamomile has been shown to kill certain types of cancer. Taken as a tea, it can also help to clean out the lymph nodes. It calms the stomach and has been found to help with some aspects of chemotherapy.
12. Skin problems
Because it works best as a tea, and liquids are processed by the liver, chamomile can help with some skin problems. It’s thought that some skin problems, such as eczema and acne, begin in the liver. When the liver is kept in good shape, these problems seem less severe.
13. Gentle cleanser
Chamomile can be used as a wound wash and in the eyes, but it can also be used on babies and very frail people, such as the elderly. It is a very gentle cleanser that can be used in almost any situation.
14. Caffeine free
Not only is chamomile a great drink, it’s also caffeine free!
15. Ice cubes
Every summer I find I have more chamomile than I can use. I dry it to use later, but I also make tea out of it and make this into ice cubes. These are great to throw in a drink and they won’t water it down. I also use the cubes if I get a bee sting. Just place the cube on the sting and hold it there for a few minutes. The tea-infused ice will calm the sting, relieve the itch and draw out any poisons.
Homemade Chamomile Wound Salve
Here’s a recipe for an easy salve that you can use on almost any wound:
- 8 oz chamomile infused oil, or plain carrier oil of your choice (find carrier oils here)
- 1.5 oz beeswax, or other wax of your choice (find beeswax here)
- 0.5 oz butter like shea, mango, or cocoa – optional (find organic butters here)
I love using an infused chamomile oil in my salve. This is very easy as well. Take a small jar and fill it half full with dried chamomile flowers. Don’t use fresh, as this could increase the chances of mold forming. (Find organic chamomile flowers here.) Cover with a light oil such as almond, or my new favorite, grapeseed. Screw on a tight fitting lid and leave in the sun for a week or two, gently shaking every day. When it’s ready, and you can tell by the change in color and scent, strain through a funnel with a coffee filter in it. Use this infused oil to make the salve.
Create a makeshift double boiler by filling a small saucepan with a few inches of water and placing a glass measuring cup inside the pan. Combine beeswax, butter, and oil in the glass measuring cup. Heat ingredients over medium heat until beeswax is completely melted. Once melted, take a spoon and dip the tip in and pull out. Wait a few minutes for it to harden, then test to see if you like the consistency. If it’s too hard, add a bit more oil. If it’s too soft, add a bit more wax and continue heating until melted. When you get the exact consistency you want, carefully remove measuring cup from saucepan and allow the mixture to cool a bit. To add extra therapeutic benefits to your salve, stir in 10-15 drops of chamomile essential oil if desired. Pour mixture into a clean lip balm tube or a small tin. (I like the tube because it’s easy to carry.) Cool completely and cap. Be sure to label the container well.
*NOTE: Some people can develop allergies to chamomile. If you are allergic to anything in the daisy or aster family, you may want to avoid it. It also contains coumarin, and may act as a blood thinner. Use caution with chamomile if you are already taking blood thinners.
For the most part, chamomile is very safe to use, as it has been for centuries. Have you tried it yet?