The camomile is a species with numerous almost identical "look-alikes", including Tripleurospermum inodorum (scentless mayweed), Matricaria discoidea (pineappleweed), Anthemis arvensis (corn chamomile), Anthemis cotula (stinking camomile) and Chrysanthemum parthenium (feverfew). The numerous species with near–identical appearance make the camomile, a weed supposedly easy to distinguish, not so distinguishable.
What does the camomile look like and where does it come from?
The place of origin of the camomile is thought to include Southern and Eastern Europe and Asia Minor. Its current habitats are much more popular, covering the whole of Europe, Australia and North America.
The camomile reaches 50 cm in height. Its stalk is bare, thin and with numerous branches. On top of each branch are the camomile flowers which form heads. The florets are white (and called "petals") and the central flowers are bright yellow. The leaves are pinnate and fragile, growing erratically along the entire stem. The camomile flowers are often picked in the meadows of Poland, where they are found in great numbers during the holiday season.
Active ingredient content in the camomile
The most important parts of the plant in terms of pro-health action are the camomile flower heads. They contain ethereal oils, flavonoids, cummarins, polyacetylenes, mucilage and cholin. The primary characteristic of camomile flower head extracts is an anti-inflammatory action. This is caused by the presence and activity of the compounds in the ethereal oil, as well as from the flavonoids and mucilage mentioned before. Another effect resulting from the content of the oils and flavonoids is spasmolysis (relaxation) of smooth muscles of the digestive system, the urinary system and the uterus.
Therapeutic indications for the camomile extract
The camomile can be administered externally and internally. When administered externally as poultices (compresses), it aids accelerated healing of wounds and reduction in inflammation of the skin, the oral cavity and mucous membranes (the medicine Mucosit). The camomile can also be used in the auxiliary treatment of haemorrhoids (rectal varicose veins) and irritation of sexual organs, mainly itching and burning.
Camomile extracts have also found use in cosmetology. The anti-inflammatory action of the camomile is used in creams and tonics. Another trait of the plant is used in hair care formulas: its bleaching action (employed in light hair conditioners).
Internal administration is related to anti-inflammatory and spasmolitic effects of the camomile extract. Anti-inflammatory action enables assistance in the treatment of inflammations of the digestive, urinary and reproductive systems. Spasmolysis helps alleviate pains related to contractions of digestive muscles, the uterus, the kindeys or the ureters.
Who should take camomile and who should avoid it?
Camomile tea is recommended for persons with gastric and intestinal disorders, as well as nausea (e.g. from food poisoning). Doctors also recommend tea of camomile or camomile with dill for administration to infants in order to alleviate colic (which are painful abdominal cramps caused by an immature digestive tract). Camomile tea is also used to treat anxiety and insomnia. Camomile infusion can also serve as a gargle for persons with inflammation of the oral cavity.
Unfortunately, camomile is also allergenic. This means that sensitive persons may suffer from allergic responses to digestion of camomile. Use camomile extracts with care and avoid administration when adverse effects are found (like rash, itching or redness of the skin).
Can camomile be used with other plant extracts?
When camomile is used externally, it is a good idea to complement it with other plant extracts and medicinal agents which harmonise with the properties of this herb. An interesting composition is the preparation Mucosit. Its rich contents (camomile, pot marigold, Coltsfoot, sage, thyme, oak and mint) ensure comprehensive aid in treating oral inflammation and inflammation of the gums. Not only does Mucosit eliminate inflammation, but it also reduces pain, bleeding and swelling, while giving a pleasant cooling sensation.
With a combination of camomile extract with extracts of caraway and mint, you can achieve a comprehensive alleviation of flatulence, discomfort after eating or stomachache. A preparation with so many ingredients (the dietary supplement Gastrochol) can also be used to facilitate digestion of food and functioning of the stomach.
A composition of camomile extract with extracts of lingonberry leaves, birch leaves, parsnip and bean pericarp (in the preparation Urosept) enables effective aid in the treatment of disorders of the urinary system. The effectiveness of Urosept mainly results from anti-inflammatory and relaxing effects of camomile, and from the antiseptic and diuretic action of the remaining active ingredients.