Used in everything from cosmetics to aromatherapy to beverages, calming chamomile has been around for ages, dating back thousands of years, at least to ancient Egyptian times. The daisy-like flowering plant comes from the Asteraceae family of plants (which also includes sunflowers, Echinacea and marigold) and is most famously known as a relaxing herb.
Even Peter Rabbit’s mother used the herb, sending the mischievous young bunny to bed with a cup of chamomile tea when he returns home after narrowly escaping from Mr. McGregor’s garden.
The beautiful Chamomile flower is native to Asia, Europe, Australia and North America, and blooms during the early summer months.Chamomile tea contains Chamazulene, an aromatic chemical compound that possesses anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antispasmodic properties.
According to Dietician Anshul Jaibharat, “Chamomile tea relaxes nerves and soothes the nervous system, therefore helping you sleep better. It lacks the addition of caffeine, and is best consumed before sleeping”.
Many studies have shown that Chamomile tea will not only kick illnesses to the curb, but also work as a great preventive measure. “It fights harmful bacteria, and has the ability to boost your immune system,” says Dr. Ahuja, Fortis Hospital.
Smells are carried directly to the brain, and they serve as an emotional trigger. The limbic system evaluates the sensory stimuli, registering pleasure, pain, danger or safety; this then directs our emotional response, such as feelings of fear, anger and attraction. Our basic emotions and hormonal balance are in response to the most basic smell. Scents are a direct pathway to memory and emotion. Fragrances, like chamomile, relieve pain and generally affect personality and behavior. Research proves that using oil fragrances is one of the fastest ways to achieve psychological results.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Chemistry, Chamomile has pain-relieving and antispasmodic properties. It relaxes the uterus and decreases the production of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances that cause inflammation and pain). The ointment found in chamomile has been shown to sooth hemorrhoids appearing around the lower rectum and anal region. Drinking chamomile tea will relax the nervous system and its anti-inflammatory properties will sooth the swollen veins. Chamomile can also naturally lower pain associated with arthritis, injuries, back pain, fevers and pregnancy. In fact, its pain-reducing qualities are even used to soothe the body and mind after giving birth. For example, in some parts of the world like Mexico, chamomile tea is given to women after labor to relax their abdominal muscles and help them rest.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “Chamomile tea has been valued as a digestive relaxant and has been used to treat various gastrointestinal disturbances including flatulence, indigestion, diarrhea, anorexia, motion sickness, nausea and vomiting”.
Today’s busy, chaotic world leaves us feeling increasingly anxious and stressed. According to Dietician Anshul Jaibharat, “Chamomile tea is a gentle relaxant and acts as an effective natural sedative, thereby reducing stress.”
In a recent study published by the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, chamomile extracts were shown to cause minimal growth inhibitory effects on normal healthy cells, but showed significant reductions in human cancer cells, especially androgen-refractory cells that often lead to prostate cancer.
- Fill a clean quart jar a little less than halfway with dried chamomiles.
- Pour in your honey and watch as it slowly finds its way to the bottom. Be sure that your chamomiles are fully submerged.
- Put a lid on the jar and place in a sunny windowsill. Keeping it warm will allow the chamomiles to infuse better and also makes the liquid more pourable.
- Turn the jar over at leastonce per day.
- You will want to allow this mixture to infuse for at least one week, though I prefer to infuse for 3 to 4 weeks. The longer you leave it, the stronger the flavor will be.
- When the honey has infused to your taste, strain out the herbs.
- Store your chamomile-infused honey in a cool, dark place to help maintain optimal freshness. Honey is known to have amazing preservative qualities, so as long as you keep your jar tightly sealed and in a dark space, it will last for quite some time.
- Over time, I have discovered that using a chopstick in the beginning to help push the honey to the bottom is really helpful and speeds up the process a bit.
- You will need to keep checking the level of the honey over the next few days as gravity works its magic and the honey fills in all the nooks and crannies. Add more honey as needed.
- When you strain out the herbs, don’t toss those valuable leftover botanicals away! I save them and add them right into my teas or other warm drinks as a flavor booster.