The word “chamomile” originates from the Greek words chamos (ground) and melos (apple) which actually mean that Chamomile is a low-growing plant with the scent of apple. Chamomile presupposes at least six different types of plants that are spread all over the world. But we would like to focus our attention on the Chamomile plants that are well-known and widely used. They are Roman Сhamomile, German Chamomile, and Stinking Chamomile.
Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is a low perennial plant found in Europe, North Africa, and temperate areas of Asia. Roman Chamomile has a great number of names, the most known being common chamomile, garden chamomile, ground apple, low chamomile, whig plant. The plant is mostly found on dry, sandy and slightly acid soils, around gardens or fields.
Roman Chamomile is a low plant that trails on the ground. It grows in tufts of leaves and flowers and reaches approximately a foot in height. The plant’s root has no prominent central axis and branches in all directions. The branched stem has a lot of leaves, which are divided into smaller thread-like leaflets. Chamomile flowers bear some resemblance to the daisy flowers. They have a yellow central disc and white ray petals. Chamomile blooms from the end of July till September. The distinctive feature of Roman Chamomile is the shape of the scale between each two florets. Roman Chamomile has short and blunt scales while the other Chamomile species have very small and indistinctive ones.
The second well-known representative of Chamomile genus is German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) which is also called Wild Chamomile, Hungarian Chamomile, and Scented Mayweed. It is an annual plant that grows mainly in Europe and Western Asia, but it may also be found in North America. This erect plant with a smooth and branched stem may have 15-60 cm in height. It has long narrow bipinnately compound leaves. The flowers have two rows of petals: yellow and white ones. The plant blooms in June and July and has strong sweet fragrance that resembles that of Roman Chamomile, but it is less aromatic. German Chamomile needs open and sunny areas; that is why it often grows on the roadsides, around fields and gardens.
Speaking about different types of Chamomiles we should not forget about Stinking Chamomile (Anthemis cotula), which also plays an important role in herbal medicine. The plant is commonly known as Dog Chamomile, Dog-fennel, Mayweed, Maruta, and Cotula. Stinking Chamomile grows as a weed in wild and uninhabited places. The plant looks like fennel and has “a naughty smell” – a heavy offensive odour. It is toxic. Nevertheless, if used properly, Stinking Chamomile may be useful for treating certain medical conditions.
Chamomile’s long and rich history of medicinal use dates back to the ancient Egyptian civilization, where the plant was sanctity. People believed that it was the sun god plant and praised its numerous healing properties. Chamomile had a lot of them. Due to its soothing, sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic properties, the herb was widely applied in folk medicine.
In the Middle Ages, Chamomile was used for preparing love lotions and liquors due to its sedative and relaxing properties. It was put in pillows for better sleep. The plant was also praised for the strong and pleasant fragrance; thus, it was often planted in gardens and near the houses. Chamomile was also used as “a doctor for the other plants” – it helped sick and weak plants to grow and develop.
What gives such a power to this plant, which seems to be so modest at first sight? The analysis of the herb’s chemical structure may answer this question. The main Chamomile constituents are volatile oils (including bisabolol), bitter glycosides (anthemidin), carboxylic acids, polysaccharides, amino acids, flavone glycosides, tannins, azulenes, etc. They contribute much to the herb’s healing properties. Flavones, bisabolol, and some other constituents of volatile oils are responsible for the plant’s spasmolytic properties. Bitter glycosides are good for digestive system: they stimulate appetite and digestive activity. Chamazulene and bisabolol act as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents. Polysaccharides are considered to be good immune-stimulants, while azulenes are supposed to possess anti-allergic properties. This rich and unique composition makes Chamomile one of the most valuable and effective plants in herbal medicine.
The delicate Chamomile with tender white flowers and sweet scent is often associated with large green gardens and luxurious bouquets. Hardly anyone ...
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The delicate Chamomile with tender white flowers and sweet scent is often associated with large ...