“Earth laughs in flowers.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Bearing a resemblance to cheery daisies, the gentle blooms of healing chamomile belie this plant’s potent healing capacity. The two types commonly used in healing remedies are Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) and German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). The perfumes of each suggests sweet apples, the basis for their shared name, chamomile, which derives from the Greek word Chamomaela, meaning ‘ground apple’. In areas throughout Spain, chamomile is often referred to as Mantazilla, or ‘little apple’, where it’s also used to add subtle flavor to a sweet wine of the same name.
Some of the earliest references to this gentle plant are found in Egyptian texts, where its success in addressing different complaints earned it the honor of being selected as an offering to gods and goddesses. Later, the Romans burned healing chamomile as incense and also used it as an ingredient in beverages. By the Middle Ages, chamomile was considered to be one of the nine sacred herbs in the pharmacology of Anglo Saxon physicians.
In the realm of flower essences, the German variety is used to promote authentic communication, empathy, and understanding; to help develop patience; and to assist in achieving relaxation. Roman chamomile supports serenity, spiritual awareness, and peacefulness, and is useful in developing a quality of stillness.
The flowers and essential oils of both are used to ease digestive complaints. Roman chamomile also helps to alleviate headaches, and the essential oils of both Roman and German chamomile are used in creams that calm irritated, inflamed skin. This ability to relieve inflammation also makes it valuable in oral hygiene products, where chamomile can reduce swollen gums. You can make your own rinse by brewing a cup of chamomile tea and allowing it to steep for five minutes before using it to rinse your mouth, or by soaking a cloth in the tea and applying it topically as a compress to irritated skin.
Chamomile is also a common homeopathic remedy for treating anger, agitation, and distress. Because of its soothing properties, tinctures and tea infusions made from the flower heads of German chamomile are also a popular remedy for insomnia; its use as a sleep aid for sweet dreams dates back to early folklore.
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Jurlique Hypo-allergenic, Alkaline-free Chamomile Shampoo (jurlique.com).
Kiehl’s Protein Concentrate Chamomile Shampoo (kiehls.com).
Avalon Organics Chamomile Citrus Highlighting Shampoo (avalonorganics.com).
Kiss My Face Chamomile & Olive Oil Soap (kissmyface.com).
Esse Body Lotion with Chamomile & Marula (esse.co.za).
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