Chamomilla – Chamomile

Chamomile (or camomile), German chamomile, ground apple, whig plant, white stars: wild chamomile, the plant that almost everyone knows, answers to many names. The correct botanical name is Matricaria recutita L., with the synonym Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rauschert.

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In ancient Egypt, it was dedicated to the god of the sun. In England, it was traditionally one of the nine sacred herbs. Until today, whoever is crowned king always carries a bouquet of chamomile at the coronation. The Germanic peoples devoted the chamomile to Baldur, the god of the sun. In ancient Rome, chamomile was used as an antidote to snake bites. Its name is derived from the Greek chamaimelon, meaning a low, ground-growing apple, since the flowers have an apple-like scent. In 1987, the chamomile was chosen as the first medicinal plant of the year, and in 2002 herbal remedy of the year.

Wild chamomile, which belongs to the daisy family or composite plants, originates in the Near East and Eastern Europe. Today, it grows wildly throughout Europe, Australia and North America. It can be found by the sea as well as in the mountains, and often grows in meadows, built-up areas, streets and near housing developments. In terms of location it is very tolerant and undemanding. Whereas authorised external collection was the norm in the past, the raw materials for today’s phytopharmaceuticals are predominantly cultivated under controlled conditions, especially in the Mediterranean (Turkey, Spain, the Balkans and Egypt in particular), Poland and South America. In Germany, chamomile is grown on more than 1,000 hectares of land, mainly in Thuringia, but also partly at DHU. The plant grows to a height of 20 to 80 centimetres and flowers from May through to August.

The typical, aromatic fragrance is released by rubbing the chamomile flowers, which comprise singular capitula with white ray florets and yellow disc florets. Natural medicine mainly makes use of the flowers. The quality of the chamomile depends very much on when it is harvested and the drying method. The best time for harvesting is as full flowering begins, when the active constituents have developed perfectly. Glandular scales, in which the essential oil collects, can be found on the disc florets and husk leaves. The essential oils from the chamomile plant have anti-inflammatory properties, promote wound healing, stimulate sweating and kill bacteria and fungi. In addition, chamomile has long been known as a sedative and relaxant – for good reason: it contains substances, above all apigenin, but also bisabolol, which are responsible for the spasmolytic characteristics of the chamomile plant. Unlike chemical drugs, however, the chamomile has no harmful side effects.

Samuel Hahnemann, the founder of homeopathy, tested and described the chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) in his “Materia Medica Pura” (1821-34). For homeopathic purposes, the fresh, whole plants are gathered in the flowering season and used as a starting material. Typical modalities that favour the use of this remedy are an improvement from being carried (children) and deterioration due to heat, anger, wind and night.