Common Name: German Chamomile
Latin Name: matricaria recutita
I started some German Chamomile seeds indoors in Dixie cups in January. I planted about 5 seedlings in a 6” standard flower pot. All but one of them are growing at a steady, decent rate. I’m going to pull the center plant out and give it away to one of my friends. The plants are about 4-inches tall now, but should grow up to 2-feet tall.
As soon as the chamomile plant matures, I’m going to harvest the flowers and make my own tea. I’ve heard that chamomile tea can calm the nerves, help you put you to sleep, and ease stomach pains, but I was surprised to learn that drinking hot chamomile tea can also help stop allergies.
If you’d like to make your own chamomile tea, make sure you choose German Chamomile (an annual plant) and not Roman Chamomile (a perennial plant) because Roman Chamomile can produce allergic skin reactions in a few rare instances. Pick the chamomile flowers when they are in full bloom. Gently rinse the flowers (without bruising them), and then allow them to dry in a cool, dark place. Store the dried flowers in an air tight container, in a cool, dark place until you are ready to use them. When you are ready to drink some tea, boil a cup of water. Place about 1 teaspoon of crushed chamomile flowers in a tea ball strainer and steep it in the water for 5 to 10 minutes before drinking your tea.
Chamomile has antianxiety, antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antispasmodic properties. It also contains natural blood thinners. The chemicals in chamomile is similar to a prescription drug warfarin (Coumadin). So if you are taking warfarin you should avoid drinking chamomile tea. If you are presently taking any medication, you should consult your doctor to rule out any potentially dangerous reactions to using the herb in question.
Source: Balch, Phyliss. Prescription for Herbal Healing, New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 2002.