Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita) Shingle Beach at Eastbourne June 2011

I could write a few books about this herb, but I won’t otherwise you won’t have time to read about all the other fabulous plants I have written about. It looks like a large daisy with loads of feathery little leaves and has a strong apple scent when crushed.

Chamomile on the beach

Every self respecting Tudor garden had a chamomile lawn and there is a chamomile seat in Kew Gardens. Actually I haven’t been there for a few years so I hope it is still there. It is the flower heads that are used which contain volatile oil, chamazulene, flavonoids and tannic acid. I’ve already told you volatile oils are antibacterial and chamazulene is known to be active against staphylococcus aureus. As well as having anti bacterial properties chamomile is a wonderful digestive system herb, stimulating the production of digestive enzymes and has relaxing and calming properties.
Chamomile is mentioned in ancient herbal pharmacopoeias and is still one of the favourite plants used by modern day Medical Herbalists.

If you want to drink it as a soothing night time drink instead of tea or coffee, you can usually find a preparation on the shelf of most supermarkets. Make sure these do contain just chamomile, as many herb teas are blends of plants.
You can also buy the loose flowers from an herb supplier or if you have it in your garden can pick it and dry the flowers to store throughout the year.
The rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of dry flowers to one cup of boiling water, just as you would make any other tea. Leave this to stand for five minutes, strain, let it cool a bit and drink. Ok if you have a sweet tooth you may put some honey in it, but it does taste nice on its own. Monsieur Poirot (he of the “Poirot ee as been so blind”) calls this a Tisane.

Linda Bostock
Medical Herbalist

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