Chamomile: My favourite DIY anti-anxiety medicine

​”Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge. Remedies from chemicals will never stand in favour compared with the products of nature, the living cell of the plant, the final result of the rays of the sun, the mother of all life.”– T. A. Edison

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile and Matricaria recutita) are one of my favorite flowers, not only they so easy to grow and care for in the garden, delightfully cute!  these tiny daisy-like flowers lovely look at either, packed full antioxidants; including  terpenoids flavonoids, which boast a variety health benefits. 

Health benefits

Chamomile first caught my attention as a sleeplessness remedy and anti-anxiety treatment when I was going through a tough time and was determined not to take the pharmaceutical route. To my surprise (I probably shouldn’t have been so astonished) it worked like a charm! A cup before bed and I could slip into peaceful sleep, a cup before a stressful situation and I could breeze through without a painful knot in my chest. At last I had found my miracle cure.

Through further research I have since found that there are numerous other benefits to drinking chamomile tea. 

  • High source of antioxidants
  • Fights anxiety and depression
  • Strong anti-inflammatory properties
  • Effective painkiller
  • Improves digestion
  • Anti-nausea
  • Treats acid reflux
  • Relieves congestion
  • Fights cancer
  • Promotes skin health
  • Promotes tooth and gum health

    The high levels of antioxidants in chamomile flowers means that they are especially helpful in boosting immune function, lowering rates of mood disorders, reduces pain and swelling as well as keeps your skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes healthy. According to research published in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Pharmacognosy Review; chamomile is one the best medicinal herbs for fighting stress and promoting relaxation and inhaling water vapour infused with it may be the most effective form of treatment. 

    Because of the anodyne, with its powerful anti-spasmotic properties, contained  in chamomile, the plant has become known as an effective treatment for digestive disorders such as IBS. This was great news for me since for the past few years I have struggled terribly with all sorts of digestive issues and so am always on the hunt for natural remedies for when my digestive system is struggling. Not only this, but it is known to treat acid reflux and indigestion which is of particular concern to me as my partner in crime often suffers terribly and a cup of tea picks him right back up.

    Chamomile has long been used as a painkiller to treat everything from toothache to back pain. It is also known to be especially effective in treating pain associated with arthritis as well as that associated with pregnancy and labor. Congestion associated colds and sinus infection can also be effectively treated with chamomile. The high levels of flavonoids contained with in this little flower has been shown in studies to lower your risk of death from coronary heart disease.

    Chamomile is a miracle skin treatment and will assist with breakouts, dry skin, eczema, ulcers, gout, wounds, bruises and burns. This is because it has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties as well as contains powerful essential oils and flavonoids that can penetrate deep into the skin. It has also been shown to be effective in treating dark spots, fine lines, chicken pox and scars. Not only this but it can be used as a natural anti-dandruff and nappy rash treatment. Because of the antibacterial properties of chamomile, it can greatly improve overall mouth health, fighting infections and reducing pain. 

    Chamomile flowers contain an antioxidant known as apigenin, which are termed bioactive constituents. This basically means that they are natural cancer cell inhibitors, especially those associated with skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers. Studies have shown that chamomile extracts showed little inhibitory actions when exposed to healthy cells but seemed to slow down the gown of cancer cells to a large degree.

    Tips for growing chamomile

    Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile and Matricaria recutita) are an incredibly easy herb to grow, that thrives on neglect. It is best planted in spring, from either seed or divisions and is best planted in partial shade (but in cooler areas it will grow in full sun happily). Chamomile doesn’t like having damp feet and so should be planted in well draining soil and only watered in times of drought. This plant is also not a hungry one and too much fertiliser will cause the plant to become weak and produce few flowers. A strong chamomile plant will be resistant to most disease and will even act as an insect deterrent, however a weak chamomile plant can become susceptible to aphids, mealy bug and trips. 

    Uses for chamomile tea in the garden

    The benefits of chamomile for us human being has been discussed, but what I find most fascinating is the benefits of chamomile for our plant friends. One of the most frustrating thing for a gardener is when seeds get this horrible fungal infection and die (damping off) and guess what? A weak solution of chamomile tea sprayed onto seedlings and soil four times a week (let it dry out in the sun afterwards) solves the problem! You can also presoak your seeds in cool tea (8 – 12 hours) for an extra deterrent against damping off as well as the fact that the tannins contained in the tea will improve germination success. A string brew (3x strength brewed for 24 hours) can be used as a contact insecticide with no long lasting effects that could kill beneficial insects such as bees. 

    Harvesting and drying your flowers to make tea

    Chamomile should be havested ideally in the morning after the morning dew has evaporated. Simply pop off the open flower heads with your fingers and place on a mesh rack in a cool, dry and airy place till they are fully dry. Once dry store them in an airtight container, such as a jar, with some silica gel and again store in a cool dry place. Once the flowers are dry use about a table spoon of flowers per pot of tea (let it infuse in a tea strainer for 8 to 10 minutes). 

    With love and light, Jen

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