Bitter chamomile is an erect, aromatic, annual herb with several branches growing up to 20 to 45 cm high. It has thread like leaves. Terminal flower heads are about 2.5 cm across, on slender branched stalks, bearing an outer whorl of 10 to 20 white flowers with a yellow centre. The flowers of the plant have many medicinal virtues.
The herb contains a volatile oil. This oil consists of chamazulence, farnesene and bisabolol. Other constituents of chamomile are flavonoids, coumarins, plant acids, fatty acids, cyanogenic glycosides salicylate derivatives, polysaccharides, choline, amino acids and tannin.
Botanical Name: Matricaria chamomilla
Indian Name: Babunah or Babuni-ke-phul
Health Benefits of Bitter Chamomile
Below are some of the medicinal properties of bitter chamomile:
- Chamomile is stimulant and useful in dissolving or absorbing a tumor or any coagulated fluids in the body.
- It is highly beneficial in treating digestive disorders, especially of nervous origin. It can be used in dyspepsia, flatulence and colic. A powder of the flowers or 1 to 3 drops of oil extracted from flowers is taken in 1 to 2 grams doses in the treatment of such disorders. A cold infusion of the flowers is useful in indigestion and summer diarrhea in doses of 30 to 60 grams.
- Bitter chamomile is useful in insomnia. An infusion of its flowers induces sleep.
- A warm infusion of the flowers is taken in the treatment of painful and difficult menstruation.
- Two of the components, bisabolol and chamazulence contained in the volatile oil of the herb are powerful antiseptics. Chamazulene relieves pain, promotes healing of wounds and is anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic. Applied externally, it helps recovery from burns and soothes eczema. Recent investigations show that bisabolol speeds up healing of ulcers and prevents reoccurrence.
- The herb is useful in treating rheumatic afflictions, where its extracted oil, diluted in a vegetable oil is, rubbed on the affected parts. It eases the pain of rheumatism and gout. A compress of chamomile flowers is used to treat sciatica.
- An infusion of the flowers has a relaxing effect and is of special value to hyperactive children. It acts as a nervine sedative and tonic on the gastro intestinal canal. The flowers are useful for earache, neuralgic pains, stomach disorders, convulsions and ailments caused by dentition.