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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chamomile, It all Started with Peter Rabbit

My introduction into the world of herbs all started with the famous children's book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. Most mother's can relate with how to handle mischievous children who don't listen and then come whimpering to Mom when hurting or upset. Mama rabbit simply put her little bunny to bed with a cup of chamomile tea and let him reflect on his lesson learned after such an adventurous day.

Be it frazzled nerves or an upset tummy, chamomile tea was the best remedy to calm both conditions at the same time. Better yet, chamomile tea lulled little Peter Rabbit into the la la land of sleep.
Much of chamomile's medicinal effects are targeted toward the digestive tract and nervous system. It's rich history around the world has it regarded as a drug in many areas, with the respect going far beyond being just another plant brushed aside with the emergence of western medicine.

As said by herbalist Kathi Keville, "It looks like a tiny daisy, smells like apples and has a sweet, almost fruity taste. But chamomile is no dainty herb. It's a virtual powerhouse of healing."

The word itself comes from two Greek words, khamai, which means "on the ground", and melon, which means "apple".

 The two two main types of chamomile we see are German (Matricaria recutita) and Roman (Chamaemelum nobile). 

The active constituents of chamomile include anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and anti-anxiety properties within the essential oils of the plant. By soothing the gastrointestinal tract, chamomile relieves painful spasms and the pressure from gas build-up. Skin conditions are calmed down with the topical application of chamomile salves and even just by laying wet, used tea bags on the irritated area. Compounds called flavonoids present in chamomile promote both an anti-inflammatory and an anti-anxiety effect when they bind with certain receptor sites in the brain.

Chamomile tea can be a godsend for parents pacing the floor with a colicky baby. The build-up of intestinal gas is very painful. Just a teaspoon of cooled chamomile tea given every ten minutes can relieve a baby's misery amazingly fast. Catnip is another wonderful herb safe for babies.

Combine a hot water bottle placed over the lower abdomen and sipping chamomile tea every 15 minutes for a sure relief from those dreaded 
 PMS menstrual cramps. Add cramp bark, grated ginger, scullcap, and wild yam to the tea for an even better blend.

Be it a child or an adult, everyone has occasional trouble falling asleep. A cup of chamomile tea with a spoonful of honey can become a nightly ritual to look forward to in readiness for bed. The nerve relaxing properties of this herb are wonderful for settling down overtired children and the cluttered minds of over stressed adults.

Long-term stress can be one factor in the development of ulcers. Chamomile contains azulene, which is believed to promote healing in the mucus layer of the stomach. Azulene in chamomile essential oil is what turns the oil a bright blue.

For muscle pain in general, a great combination of essential oils is:
chamomile, clary sage and marjoram. Use just three drops of each of these essential oils added to one ounce of a carrier oil such as olive oil. Use a bit of this mixture to massage the areas of muscle pain.

Skin rashes of all types can be eased with the topical use of chamomile. Added to baths, creams or salves, the anti-inflammatory effects can calm down such skin flares. Besides the anti-inflammatory benefits, chamomile is also antibacterial and antifungal. Among the microbes that chamomile inhibits are the ones responsible for staph and Candida infections. This is very good to know for people dealing with itchy conditions such as eczema where scratching can lead to secondary bacterial infections.

It may not be completely understood as to why, but chamomile tea can lessen the symptoms during allergy season. It is thought that chamomile stimulates the release of the body's natural cortisone. Cortisone inhibits the release of histamine, which is the chemical responsible for the runny nose, itchy eyes and hives. For better results, mix chamomile with yarrow for hay fever and mullein for asthma. There is debate as to whether a ragweed allergy automatically means a person is allergic to chamomile.

A great eyewash for sore eyes is made by seeping two teaspoons of chamomile in one-half cup of boiling water. Let this strong infusion cool and then strain through a coffee filter. Use an eye cup or an eye dropper to flush the eyes. A nice warm compress laid over the eyes would feel wonderful as well. You can even use the spent tea bags from the cup of tea you just drank and lay over your eyes.

In beauty care, chamomile is wonderful as part of facial toners and hair rinses. Chamomile's anti-inflammatory action helps calm down inflamed skin therefore very useful for breakouts.
Long used by people with blonde hair as a hair rinse to bring out those natural highlights.

If you want to grow your own chamomile it is fairly easy. Chamomile is an annual which once it is planted and gets established, it will pop up on its own every year. The flowers are the parts collected and if you harvest on a regular basis during the growing season the flowers will continue before finally going to seed. 

Below are several products utilizing this amazing herb:
Click on the link below the pictures to take you into the shop
Coconut Herbal Balm, Wounds, Dry Skin
Rich Foot Balm for Blisters, Calluses, Skin Cracks

Shea Butter Herbal Balm for Dry Skin, Healing
Herbal Salve for Eczema, Skin conditions
Hurting Tummy Oil
Children's Settle Down Massage Oil

Tension Headache Massage Oil

Mensus Misery Massage Oil
Sleep and Dream Mist Linen Spray
Chamomile, Nettles, Calendula Facial Toner
Raw Honey Facial Mask
Vinegar Rinse for Light Hair

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