German Chamomile, Soothing and Comforting

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Any information found on thegigglinggardengnome.com is intended for informational and educational purposes only and not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical condition or are seeking medical advice, please speak to your doctor or other medical professional. 

Plant Info

Common name: German Chamomile

Scientific name: Matricaria chamomilla (or Matricaria recutita)

Family: Asteraceae

Active compounds: Bisabolol and chamazulene

There are a few different varieties of Chamomile, but this article is focused on the German variety. German Chamomile is a self-seeding annual with little white flowers that are topped with a yellow center, and thin wispy leaves. They are in the Asteraceae family. Siblings in this family are sunflowers, daisies, and asters.

It typically grows to about two to three feet tall and spreads out over about a foot. I have heard that it can be grown in containers, but I never had any luck with that. I find that it grows best when sown directly outside. Even in the most sun-blasted, poor-soil-having, nothing-wants-to-grow-there part of the yard. 

I am not kidding. Anytime I had a problematic year with a garden, I still had chamomile hanging in there. They are so tough and happy looking!

So, sow seeds outside in well draining soil. They don’t need much in the way of fertilizer and tend to thrive on mild neglect. However, once the summer heat hits, make sure it doesn’t get too dry. Several of my source materials refer to it as “the plant physician” because when put next to another plant that is doing poorly, the sick plant perks up after a while.

To harvest, simply pick off the flower heads and dry them on a screen or tray. Deadheading is important to keep up flower production, so harvest frequently. Once dried, you can use them to make a soothing cup of tea.

Photo by Maria Pop: https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-flower-in-bloom-343249/

History

Chamomile has been used medicinally and in rituals as far back as ancient Egypt.  It is said to draw from and connect to the sun’s energy. Also, the dried flowers’ pleasant smell and reputation for being a protective and calming herb has made it a favorite to sprinkle on floors since the Middle Ages. When a person steps on the flowers, their smell is released. In 1653, Nicholas Culpeper wrote about how it was used to eradicate pain, swelling and digestive problems of all kinds.

Lore

Everyone knows that a nice, hot cup of chamomile tea is soothing and relaxing. If you are struggling to fall asleep, it is just the thing to lull you into a peaceful night of slumber. If you are stressed and wound up, grab a kettle and brew some STAT.

What you may not know is that German Chamomile is considered to be the most medicinally potent variety of chamomile. That is because it has a higher amount of chamazulene and Bisabolol, which are anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Herbalists recommend this powerful plant to help with menstrual pain, skin inflammation, muscle and joint pain, stomach pain and gas, anxiety, and insomnia. In addition, it is said to bring out the blond in light hair when used as a rinse. It is also added to baths and carried in pouches to create a connection to the sun as well as bring peace and protection. An incense made from chamomile is supposed to help with sleep and meditation.

Lastly, in plant symbolism, chamomile represents strength and patience through adversity. That is likely because of how it can survive pretty harsh conditions. During the hottest parts of the summer, when everything is dry and struggling, chamomile continues to flourish and help people as well as other plants.

Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-white-ceramic-teacup-with-tea-4974504/

Sources

These are the books I read when researching for this article. They are definitely worth a look. They have a ton of fascinating information about this and other plants.

Guinness, Alma E (Ed.). Family Guide to Natural Medicine. Reader’s Digest,1993, P. 301.

McVicar, Jekka. The Complete Herb Book. Introduction by Penelope Hobhouse, Firefly Books, 2007, P. 80-81.

Graedon, Joe and Teresa. The People’s Guide to Home and Herbal Remedies. Graedon Enterprises, Inc, 1999, P. 282-284.

Culpeper, Nicholas. The Complete Herbal. Evans, Richard, 1654, London. 

Reilly, Peter. “Herb Power!”. American Media Mini Mags, Inc, 2002, P. 53-54, 79.

Mindrell, Earl. Herb Bible. Simon & Schuster, 1992, P. 69-71.

Roybal, Beth Ann Petro. Skowronki, Gayle. Sex Herbs. Gramercy Books, 2002, P. 138-139.

Tierra, Michael. The Way of Herbs. Pocket Books, 1998, P. 110-111.

McNair, James K. All About Herbs. Wilson, ORTHO BOOKS, 1990. P. 48.

Ducham, Brittany. Radical Remedies an Herbalist’s Guide to Empowered Self-Care. Illustrated by Elana Gabrielle, Roost Books, P. 129.

Franklin, Anna. The Hearth Witch’s Garden Herbal: Plants, Recipes & Rituals for Healing & Magical Self-Care. Llewellyn Publications, 2023, P. 119-123.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Llewellyn Publications, 1985, 2000. P.78-79

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