(WellnessNova.com) - It’s hard to think of a happier herb than sunny chamomile. This friendly flower looks similar to a daisy, and has white petals with a bright yellow center. It thrives in direct sunlight with a clear blue sky — the very picture of warmth, health, and the simple good things in life.
But aside from brightening your day, chamomile has a long history of helping human beings. From ancient times, this plant has been thought to provide benefits ranging from wealth to restful sleep to soothing toothaches. Modern studies support this versatile herb’s health benefits. Let’s take a look at this popular plant’s history and then what doctors love about it today!
An Ancient Herb of Prosperity, Beauty, and Health
The word “chamomile” comes from the Greek word that means “earth apple”. (Older spellings sometimes omit the “h”, which comes to us from the French language.) The name (and its folk name “ground apple”) comes from the flower’s pleasant, clean scent, which is similar to an apple blossom’s.
Chamomile has been a beloved herb since ancient times because of its many uses and health benefits. The ancient Romans thought chamomile attracted money. Infusions of this herb were used as a hand wash by gamblers hoping to win more over dice or cards. The ancient Egyptians revered Chamomile as a solar herb, possibly owing to its sunny, yellow center, and thought it was the best of all healing herbs. They associated it with their sun god, Ra.
The Vikings used rinses of chamomile to lighten blonde hair, like an early hair dye. The Anglo-Saxons named chamomile (they called it “maythe”) as one of their nine sacred herbs. They used it in salves to help alleviate swelling and pain and as part of a concoction to treat what they called “flying venom”, which researchers believe was caused by airborne viruses.
There are two varieties of medicinal chamomile herbs: the Roman and the German.
Roman Chamomile, Chameamelum nobile, is also known as English Chamomile and is called Manzanilla in Spanish. It has a low, wide spreading growth, and was introduced to North America by early English settlers.
German Chamomile, Matricaria recutita, was introduced to North America via Mexico as it came along with Spanish settlers. It’s taller than the Roman variety, and grows between two to 2.5 feet tall. It’s also the more popular variety used today.
How Chamomile Can Heal You
Studies prove that chamomile reduces inflammation and irritations both externally and internally. You can make tea, gargles, and rinses with it to soothe a sore throat. If you have rashes or puffy irritations on your skin, a chamomile salve will calm the swelling.
It’s also great if you have an upset stomach and eases digestion. It’s been proven to ease the pain of menstrual cramps and sore teeth.
Chamomile has also been found to have a slightly sedative effect and is often included in bedtime tea blends, and proven to alleviate stress and insomnia. A recent study showed chamomile can treat some types of anxiety disorders too.
Chamomile is so powerful that scientists found that taking chamomile everyday reduces your risk of death from any cause if you’re 65 or older by 29 percent.
A nice, warm cup of chamomile tea is delicious, and great for anyone looking to wind down. It pairs well with mint, which is another digestive soother, and some tea blends include both. Chamomile tea is made from chamomile flowers, which can be harvested two to three times per season. Since it’s an herbal tea, it’s caffeine-free — you can take it before bed without worrying about getting a rush.
You can also place a few drops of chamomile oil in your bath to add a relaxing, soothing sensation to your bath. What are you waiting for? With so many uses, it’s a great idea to make friends with chamomile and experience the benefits yourself!