A practical guide for nutritional and traditional health care.
The German chamomile is a species of chamomile that is very aromatic; it also has a slightly bitter taste which is reminiscent of the taste of apples. The herb is also very well known to the majority of herbal tea drinkers around the world as it is a common prescription. What is less well known, are the various medicinal uses to which the herb can be put to in the treatment of different disorders and conditions. Many types of digestive disorders can be treated using the German chamomile; this herb is also excellent as an herbal remedy in the treatment of various nervous tensions and conditions of irritability or stress. Topical use of the German chamomile involves its use as a cream in the treatment of sore skin and disorders such as eczema. German chamomile is similar to the Roman chamomile, a close herbal relative, which is also used to treat many of the same disorders and conditions which can be treated using the German chamomile.
Digestive problems of all types have been treated using the herbal remedies derived from the German chamomile at least since the 1st century AD and this herb is a traditional recognized medication for all such conditions. The herbal remedies made from the chamomile are very gentle acting and efficient, this is the reason that the chamomile is considered ideal for the treatment of conditions in children. Disorders such as abdominal pain, persistent indigestion, problems related to acidity, excess gas, conditions such as gastritis, abdominal bloating, and colic are normally treated using German chamomile. In addition, the remedies made from the chamomile is used in the treatment of conditions such as hiatus hernia, disorders like peptic ulcer, it is used in the treatment of Crohn's disease, and to treat the symptoms related to the irritable bowel syndrome.
The active chemical compound in the German chamomile is the compound known as spiroether, which has a very strong antispasmodic action, and it helps in relaxing muscular tension, it also soothes aching muscles and helps in easing the menstrual pain in women affected by such disorders during menstruation. Irritability is also relieved by the chamomile herb which also promotes sleep, particularly in affected children - this herbal remedy is suitable for use with children.
Disorders such as the hay fever and conditions like asthma are also treated using the remedies prepared from the German chamomile. When put under steam distillation, compounds known as proazulenes in the chamomile herb produce chamazulene, this secondary compound is markedly anti-allergenic in its action and helps alleviate all the symptoms associated with allergies in the body. Topical treatments can also be prepared from the chamomile, and remedies prepared from the herb can be applied on to sore and itchy skin and it can also be used in the treatment of disorders such as eczema. Eyestrain and other optic disorders can also be relieved using herbal remedies made from the chamomile herb.
Other medical uses
A delicious and delectable herbal tea can be prepared from the fresh or dried flowers of the German chamomile - this herbal tea can help relieve a variety of conditions in the body. At the same time, personal taste will help you decide which particular chamomile species to use in the preparation of the tea. For example, herbal teas made from the German chamomile flowers tend to be sweeter than those prepared from the flowers of the Roman chamomile, which may be slightly bitter and may have a bite to it. The choice of flowers to use is largely based on the person who is going to drink the tea, as both the flowers make excellent herbal teas and have similar potent actions on the body.
For extra effect, include a lot of fragrant chamomile flowers to different potpourris and dried floral sachets.
Habitat and cultivation
Though cultivated extensively in many temperate regions around the world, the German chamomile grows in much of Europe. Clay soil is ideal for the growth of the German chamomile and the herb also grows well in poor soils and mountain soils. The chamomile herb tolerates pH ranges between 4.5 to 7.5, while the German variety grows best in pH ranges lying between 5.5 to 8.0. The two varieties of chamomile grow well in open areas, which are sunny and airy; however, the herb will also grow well in areas of light shade. Both the herbs can be grown from stocked seeds; these should ideally be sown in the well watered gardens during the spring. The seeds must be sown in shallow plots, which should have an ideal depth of 6 mm-14 inches - or less, as the plants grow best in such circumstances. The ground must be kept moist and free of weeds or other plants at all times. The first seedlings of the herb will normally appear in about 5 to 10 days following germination. The ideal option is to space the German chamomile about 10 cm - 4 inches- apart from other plants around. Transplant of the German chamomile seedlings are ideal when plants are still young and have not attained a length of more than 5 cm-2 inches tall, retrieval is also easy when the plants are this high. The two varieties of chamomile are mostly pest resistant and disease free. The German chamomile readily self-sows once it has become established in the garden, the chances of having a fresh crop the following year is very likely.
In 1987, researchers prepared an herbal cream using the German chamomile. This herbal cream was tested for its ability to heal physical wounds and the results produced very positive results as far as healing was concerned. Another experiment conducted in the year 1993, made use of the German chamomile along with four other healing herbs, the results showed that the German chamomile was the most effective at easing symptoms of infantile colic.
Doses of the German chamomile when consumed in the form of an herbal tea can be a cup of tea, taken three to four times every day, in between the daily meals. Instead of the herbal tea, patients are commonly given alternatives such as herbal tablets, herbal capsules, or the chamomile tincture. Doses for these alternatives can be about 2-3 grams of the capsules or tablets every day or about 4-6 ml of the herbal tincture thrice every day in between the daily meals.
Side effects and cautions
While not common in occurrence, it is known that some patients develop allergic reactions to chamomile and such cases have been reported now and then. Some of the typical allergic reactions which have been reported include bronchial constriction with ingested remedies and even allergic skin reactions with the topical cream. Though rare in occurrence, these types of side effects can happen and all individuals already developed with allergies to plants of the Asteraceae family - which includes herbs such as the ragweed, the aster, and the chrysanthemum should try to avoid the use of herbal remedies made from the chamomile. It is also advised, that teething babies not be given any herbal preparations made from the chamomile.
Collection and harvesting
Both types of chamomile flowers can be harvested at the appropriate time and preserved by drying, or they can be used fresh. Harvesting of the flowers ideally done when the flowers are fully open. The chamomile flowers can be prepared for the drying process by snipping the flowers off with scissors at the base; the collected flowers must then be rinsed and patted dry or stored. The flower heads must then be placed on a rack or mesh screen and allowed to dry slowly inside a warm room or area which is airy and exposed to the sun. The flowers can be stored in the jars in the dark, when they become completely dry. The leaves of the chamomile herb can be harvested fresh as and when needed for the preparation of various herbal remedies.
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