One of the best-known medicinal plants is chamomile. It is used for a myriad of natural remedies, starting with the stomach and ending with eye pain.
Therefore, it is important to know all the advantages of its consumption, the dosage and the effects it can provide us. Discover the properties of chamomile from a more scientific point of view but understandable by all.
Characteristics of the plant
Its scientific name is Chamaemelum nobile, although it is known to all as chamomile. It belongs to the Asteraceae family and is native to Europe.
We find other very similar varieties with similar medicinal properties, such as Matricaria chamomilla (its scientific name) or sweet chamomile, its common name.
Its consumption is historical and there are references to the use of the properties of chamomile for many years.
In its leaves have been located different phytocomponents that intervene in animal health and give the properties of chamomile. The beneficial effects associated with this medicinal plant are:
- Digestive properties
- Carminative properties
- Sedative effects
- Tonic effect
- Vasodialatating properties
- Antispasmodic properties
Active principles of chamomile
- Camazulene: this compound can be found in the properties of chamomile and wormwood. It has anti-inflammatory activity.
- Tigalic acid: it is used as a perfume and flavouring agents.
- Apigenin: a flavone that induces autophagy (cell recycling) and has chemopreventive properties and other very interesting effects.
- Bisabololol: sesquiterpene with skin healing properties.
- Organic acids (antémic, caffeic, peptic and salicylic).
- Alcohols (geraniol, borneol, farnesol).
At the nutritional level, the chamomile flowers they contain about 99.70% water, so it’s not especially interesting. Once dried (as recommended for consumption) it contains a small amount of phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Today, the most common way to take it is through the typical infusion of chamomile that our grandmothers have always resorted to when we had stomach pains.
Used parts of the plant
Practically throughout history only chamomile flowers have been used. These are selected and harvested at the beginning of flowering (many inflorescences are not yet fully open and stand out for their white content).
In order not to alter its phytochemical compounds and the properties of chamomile, harvesting is carried out on dry days with low environmental humidity.
These flowers should be dried as soon as possible, in environments without access to light and well ventilated (avoiding rot and the presence of molds).
Its conservation is easy and it is enough with hermetic crystalline containers, protected from light (in cabinets) and with an expiration date of around 1 year. It can be consumed later but will have lost some of its medicinal properties and aromas.
Dried chamomile flowers
The process to obtain dried chamomile flowers involves arranging them in a cool and dry environment, to reduce heat fermentations. A wooden box, such as those used for fruit, can be used to arrange them. Once a week we will have to shake the box slightly to move all the flowers and change their position.
The dried chamomile flowers ready for consumption can be obtained from the 2nd week of drying, being able to prepare with it the well-known infusion of chamomile.
Properties of chamomile
1. Improves digestive health
If we ask the general public the main effect of the properties of chamomile, would come out as the winner the response of the stomach relief.
In acute gastroenteritis, vomiting and states of abdominal pain, a cocktail of infusions has always been prepared where thenzanilla is the protagonist.
This has been associated with reducing the effects derived from this problem, such as muscle spasms, gastric inflammations, gas and nausea.
Likewise, the properties of chamomile have indirect effects to alleviate this problem, such as regulation of intestinal microbiology, the buffer effect on the stomach to reduce acidity and the prevention of stomach ulcers.
To do this, when we have a digestive problem, vomiting or intestinal inflammation, the infusion of chamomile, in small sips, will help us feel better.
2. Relieves stress and anxiety
One of the specific treatments of chamomile is to take an infusion of its dried flowers to relieve mild states of anxiety and stress.
While there are other plants that perform this same action in a more effective way, it can be combined with chamomile to improve the taste and quality of the infusion.
Especially the states of relaxation of chamomile are supported by the aromatherapy offered by chamomile, with compounds such as tigalic acid (toxic at large doses) or alcohols present (such as geraniol).
How to take: we can take advantage of the properties of chamomile with the preparation of an infusion of one tablespoon of dried flowers per cup of water. Take at night before sleeping.
We can combine the properties of chamomile with the anti-stress benefits of valerian.
3. Helps you sleep better
Reducing states of anxiety and stress is essential to find a pleasant state of relaxation and be able to fall asleep.
The presence of a phytocompound present in chamomile (Apigenin) acts as a powerful antioxidant that we will talk about more than once throughout this article.
This compound has the ability to act on brain receptors to reduce states of insomnia, promoting faster entry into the state of deep sleep.
Interesting studies have been carried out to evaluate the properties of chamomile in sleep, verifying that the extracts in infusions of this medicinal plant reduced by 33% the nocturnal awakening and the valocity of entry to deep sleep.
This has also been applied in patients with severe problems of insomnia and depression, with very satisfactory results.
4. Applications on the skin
The applications of chamomile are not only limited to its oral consumption. There are tinctures and means to apply chamomile infusion to the skin to relieve dermatological conditions and irritations.
The application of chamomile extract has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-irritants. It is usually advisable to use it to facilitate the healing of wounds or burns, reduce the presence of wrinkles and reduce oxidative stress of the skin.
How to apply: make frictions with the liquid resulting from the maceration of the dried flowers in a liter of olive oil for a couple of hours. Store the liquid in a dark, tightly closed container and apply when you feel pain.
5. Relieves menstrual pain
To study its effect on menstrual pain, it is necessary to relate the presence of some of its compounds. Among them, those that act with effects stand out Antiinflammatory and Antispasmodics.
The properties of chamomile act on all the effects related to this problem, such as anxiety, localized cramps, inflammation, hormonal changes, etc.
6. Cardiovascular health
The high presence of flavonoids and fatty acids in the properties of chamomile means that its use as a regulator of blood pressure and cholesterol is currently being investigated.
Recent studies have shown promise in significantly reducing bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride level.
Although in the future of the cardiovascular health we must count on the contribution of flavonoids present in different medicinal plants, it is still too early to draw plausible conclusions about their effects on the stimulation of the cardiovascular system.
7. Chemoprotective effect against cancer
A lot of research is working with the effects of tigalic acid which has already given several satisfactions thanks to its chemoprotective effect on cells affected by leukemia. Also, the antioxidant potential of chamomile’s properties play a fundamental role in preventing and improving the autoimmune response.
Currently, trials in search of medicinal properties have focused on the most common types of cancer, such as breast, digestive cancer, prostate cancer in men and uterine cancer in women.
There is a study conducted in more than 500 people where the response of the properties of chamomile by infusion (between 2 and 6 times a week) and the incidence of thyroid cancer, with significant results.
Although these results are very promising, more research is needed to reach sufficiently noteworthy conclusions.
8. Blood sugar control in diabetic people
The effect of chamomile’s properties and blood sugar regulation is currently being investigated. It is still too early to draw serious conclusions but there seems to be a new natural source for regulating pancreatic production in people suffering from elevated sugar in the bloodstream.
The pancreas is the organ responsible for producing insulin, a hormone responsible for reducing and controlling blood sugar levels.
How to take: 2 or 3 cups a day of the infusion of one teaspoon of dried flowers per cup of water.
These medicinal properties have also been scientifically investigated in the black tea and has proven to be an additional alternative to current diabetes measures.
9. Respiratory conditions and allergies
Relief from allergy-related respiratory conditions is intimately related to antihistamines.
The histamine is a molecule that we manufacture involved in allergic hypersensitivity reactions, which causes inflammation of the airways and eyes, coughing and sneezing, among others.
In nature we can find this compound naturally, and among other plants, we also find it in chamomile.
The properties of chamomile act with a natural antihistamine effect, serving both skin allergies and respiratory allergies.
Its natural compounds help curb excess histamine and immunoglobulin.
To take advantage of this property, we can take an infusion of chamomile or 2 during the period of the allergy or respiratory condition.
10. Effect on osteoporosis
Although chamomile does not stand out precisely for the mineral contribution of calcium, it does have natural compounds that favor its assimilation in the bones. These compounds are also found in alfalfa, dandelion, plantain and other medicinal plants.
They facilitate the absorption of calcium and act in synergy with the rest of the minerals.
11. Oral health
It is common to gargle chamomile and other natural extracts to reduce bacterial infections and inflammation. Its use when we have oral wounds acts by improving healing and calming tooth pain (such as toothache).
This is because chamomile contains phytocomponents with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and helps reduce pain caused by wounds or tissue inflammation.
To use its medicinal properties and fight oral infections, it is enough to prepare an infusion of chamomile and gargle for 5 to 10 minutes 2 times a day to feel noticeable pain relief.
How to take: perform cold rinses with the infusion of the dried plant as many times a day as desired.
12. Eye health
Eye diseases, such as stye, wounds or inflammations of the eye have always been linked to chamomile and its healing power.
This is due to the anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties bestowed by compounds such as bisabolol and camazulene. However, these topical effects do not offer the same results as when we consume them through an infusion.
To this day, although there is much popular belief of the benefits of its effect, neither the dose nor the beneficial effect has been investigated, although it is known that it does not produce any side effect unless there is a predisposition to allergy due to any of its Compounds.
It is advisable not to apply if you have allergic conjunctivitis.
How to prepare chamomile oil
Chamomile oil has medicinal properties and is used topically at the dermatological and muscular level. It can be used to perform massages, to improve skin firmness, reduce wrinkles or improve wound healing.
For 1 liter of chamomile oil:
- 900 ml of chamomile infusion (we will use between 4 and 5 bags of chamomile)
- 10 tablespoons sunflower oil
- It is optional to use lavender, lavender or rosemary to improve the results and its aromatic effect.
Side Effects Found in Chamomile
Chamomile, like all medicinal plants, can have negative side effects.
There are people who have an allergy to the active components of this plant, causing irritations of the skin and airways (rhinitis).
The consumption of chamomile during pregnancy or lactation is not recommended. It can cause uterine contractions and abortion.
Do you know more properties of chamomile?