Sunday, October 28, 2012

Uses of Chamomile and recipes

The genus Matricaria is derived from the Latin matrix, meaning "womb," most likely because chamomile is widely used to treat such gynecologic complaints as menstrual cramps and sleep disorders related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Chamomile has been found to contain fairly strong antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory constituents and is particularly effective in treating stomach and intestinal cramps.

Chamomile, or more specifically, typically the tops gathered in the early stages of flowering, reduces cramping and spastic pain in the bowels and also relieves excessive gas and bloating in the intestines. It is often used to relieve irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and gastroenteritis (what we usually call stomach flu). Chamomile is also an excellent calming agent, well suited for irritable babies and restless children. Moreover, most children tolerate its taste.

Chamomile also can help a child fall asleep. Chamomile is calming to adults as well, but don't hesitate to sip it throughout the day -- its relaxing effects do not interfere with activities such as driving a car or completing difficult tasks, as is the case with prescription sedatives. Chamomile is an ideal choice for those with ulcers or other stomach problems aggravated by anxiety. Muscle pain that results from stress and worry is another indication for chamomile. Twitching and tics in muscles may respond to chamomile tea or other chamomile medications.

Chamomile is valued as an antimicrobial agent. A German study found that the herb inactivates bacterial toxins. Small quantities of chamomile oil inhibit staphylococcal and streptococcal strains of bacteria. You can drink chamomile tea combined with other antimicrobials, such as thyme, echinacea, and goldenseal, for internal infections. You can use chamomile topically, too, to treat infections and inflammations.

In the next section, you will learn how to prepare chamomile for herbal remedies and some of the potentially dangerous side effects.
**warnings: Do not take chamomile without first talking to your doctor if you are taking warfarin (Coumadin) or another blood thinner. You may not be able to take chamomile, or you may require special monitoring during treatment if you are taking a blood thinner.

Chamomile Recipes

Tea of Cheer and Joy

1/2 cup dried chamomile flowers
1/2 cup dried calendula petals
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup dried peppermint
1 tablespoon whole cloves
honey to taste

Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. To brew
use 1 1/2 tsp. of tea with 1 cup (8 ounces) boiling water. Steep for
3-5 minutes. Strain and sweeten with honey to taste.

Winter Afternoon Tea
1 tsp. dried chamomile
1 tsp. dried mint
1 tsp. dried lavender

Combine the herbs in your warmed tea pot and add 2 cups boiling
water. Steep for 5 minutes and strain. Add 1 tsp. of honey to each
cup of tea.

Notes: I put together this simple mellow tea one winter afternoon. I
like it with the honey, but lemon would be fine too. This makes 2
cups of tea, but it can easily be doubled and tripled.

Makes 4 cups

Chamomile Shampoo
2 tsp.. dried chamomile
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup baby shampoo (or another mild variety)

Pour the boiling water over the chamomile and steep for 30 minutes,
strain, then mix into the shampoo and use as usual.

Chamomile Hair Conditioner
1/3 cup chamomile flowers
1/3 cup olive, safflower or sunflower oil
Clean jar with lid

Combine the chamomile and oil in a jar with a lid. Place on a sunny
windowsill and shake the jar at once a day. After two weeks, strain
out the herbs. To apply, use about 2-4 teaspoons, depending on the
length of your hair. Brush out your hair and apply to the hair ends,
avoiding the scalp. Leave on about ten minutes, then shampoo out.

Chamomile Hair Rinse
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp. chamomile flowers

Pour the water over the chamomile; steep until it cools to lukewarm.
Strain out the flowers. This will soothe your scalp. To use pour over
your hair as a rinse after shampooing.

Herbal Foot Soak
2 ounces mixed fresh herbs-peppermint, rosemary, chamomile
4 cups boiling water
1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon Epsom salts

Roughly chop the herbs. Put in a bowl, pour in boiling water. Let
stand 1 hour; strain. Place the "tea" water into a tub or bowl large
enough to hold both feet and another 6-7 cups of warm water. Stir in
borax and Epsom salts.

Soak feet 15 to 20 minutes. Add hot water if needed to keep the
temperature as warm as desired. Afterwards use a good lotion and
place cotton socks on your feet for the evening!

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