Thought chamomile was simply a delicious tea? Think again; this humble herb is an effective kitchen remedy for several minor ailments. It’s readily available, affordable, and easy to take when travelling. Reach into the pantry, brew a pot, and learn how to use this multitasking herb.
Tips for brewing a healing chamomile infusion
Dried chamomile (flower heads) are widely available in teabags or loose leaf. Most supermarkets and health food stores stock them. Choose organic if possible. The fresher the dried herb is, the better the medicine. Ditch the crusty old tea bags malingering in your pantry and seek out vibrant, freshly dried blooms.
(I get mine here.)
How to make your infusion
Steep one teabag or 2-3 teaspoons of loose chamomile in freshly boiled water for around 10 minutes.
Infusion “insider” tips
Bitters are helpful for digestive issues. The longer you steep, the more you will extract the “bitter” principles. Reduce the steeping time to 5-6 minutes if you’d like it less bitter.
Cover the vessel you are brewing it in to capture the volatile oils, so they don’t evaporate. These oils are the “relaxing” component of chamomile and are helpful for muscle spasms and sleep.
What to do with your infusion
Consume chamomile as a tea, either hot or cold. You can add a dash of honey if you need a sweetener.
Cool chamomile to room temperature (or lower) if you are using it topically. Strain well to remove fine particles.
You can keep your infusion refrigerated for up to 48 hours. Discard it after this time due to the risk of bacterial growth.
Safety of chamomile
If you’re not one of the few people who are allergic to plants of the daisy family, chamomile is one of the safest herbs going around. It is suitable for both young and old and during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
11 ways to use chamomile for your health
Bloating, reflux or colic. Drink 1 cup every couple of hours. If bloating or reflux is chronic seek medical attention.
Insomnia and stress
Use chamomile for irritated and cranky children (and adults!) who’ve become overstimulated. The calming action of chamomile can soothe the nervous system helping relaxation and deep sleep. Sip one cup 60 minutes before bed.
Hay fever relief
Drink 3-4 cups per day. You can combine it with yarrow and nettle leaf for an extra anti-allergy boost.
Consume 3-4 cups a day to ease menstrual cramps. Combine with ginger for extra benefits.
Bites, stings and mild sunburn
Bathe the area using the cooled infusion or add to a cloth to form a cold compress.
Chamomile helps relieve the itch of eczema and soothes dry skin. Use both topically and internally.
Mild fever relief
Drink a “hot as you can safely consume it” infusion every 1-2 hours until the fever breaks. Combine with yarrow and peppermint for additional benefits.
Bathe eyes using an eye bath or clean eye pad every 2-3 hours.
Dark circles and puffy eyes
Lay a cold compress on the eyes for 10-15 minutes, or use the chilled chamomile tea bags (left over from infusing).
Mouthwash and gargle
Soothe sore throats and banish bad breath. Gargle a strong infusion for 20-30 seconds as often as needed.
Dandruff and scalp irritation
Use the cooled infusion as a hair rinse. Chamomile creates shine in blonde hair tones.
As you can see, chamomile is a versatile herb that deserves pride in every home’s natural first aid kit.
Are there any uses I’ve missed? Leave me a comment below.
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Norelle Hentschel is an experienced naturopath with a clinic in Stones Corner, Brisbane and Telehealth consults Australia wide. She has helped many clients improve their health and wellbeing using herbal medicines.
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