“Can I fix you a nice cup of chamomile tea?”
This line is said so many times in daytime dramas and made-for-television movies that it probably doesn’t register with viewers anymore, and that’s too bad actually because chamomile tea offers some interesting, and a few unexpected, health benefits.
Before getting into the natural advantages of chamomile, here’s a quick lesson on what it is and where it comes from.
Chamomile is a wild and cultivated flower that’s related to the daisy. There are two basic varieties:
- Matricaria chamomilla: Also called German chamomile, this variety is used in most oils and teas.
- Chamaemelum nobile: This plant is called Roman, English or garden chamomile. It also is used in oils and teas, but not as often as its German cousin.
Knowing the plant origin is important if you suffer from allergies to ragweed or daisies. In that case, you may have to skip the chamomile altogether.
In terms of therapeutic value, oils and teas are the most common delivery systems, and each has its own benefits.
• Soothing upset stomach
When steeped in hot water, the plant releases anti-spasm properties to help settle upset stomachs. There’s some evidence that it also alleviates discomfort due to irritable bowel syndrome or menstrual cramps.
Word of caution: Research has shown that chamomile could affect the musculature integrity of the uterus during pregnancy, and therefore, raises the risk of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion. Always confer with your physician.
• Immunity support
There’s a reason why you reach for a cup of hot tea when you’re feeling under the weather. First, the temperature warms you, and that’s always comforting. Second, when that hot beverage is chamomile, you’re aiding the immune system with an antibacterial boost.
• Sleep aid
If you have trouble falling asleep at night, but have reservations about taking a synthetic sleeping aid, then brew yourself a cup of tea. It’s not exactly obvious why chamomile helps people sleep, but there’s definitely a relaxing quality to it.
• Wound care
Just like the tea imparts an antibacterial quality, when rubbed on or applied to a wound or skin irritation, chamomile oil seems to help keep it clean and prevent infection.
Think of it as aromatherapy: Dab a little oil onto pressure points to trigger a destressing effect.
• Pain relief
Anecdotal evidence suggests migraine sufferers may find relief with a touch of
chamomile oil. Also, give sore muscles or joints a little rubdown with it.
• Skin soother
The German government has approved chamomile for the treatment of skin irritations, such as rashes and sunburn.
• Oral care
When used as a mouth rinse, chamomile oil appears to soothe mouth sores as well as promote tooth and gum health.
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