Chamomile: The Herb and the Remedy

Chamomile has been revered since before the time of the Egyptians as being a wonderful healing herb to soothe many of mankind's problems. The proving of Chamomile appeared in Hahnemann's Fragmenta de Biribus and in the second edition of the third volume of the Materica Medica Pura. The source of the remedy is the German Camomile. It is a member of the daisy family.

The plant loves the light and is found at the edges of paths and open fields. The flowers, despite their somewhat aromatic odor, possess a very bitter taste. They contain a volatile oil, a bitter extract and a trace of tannic acid. The emetic oil distilled from the flowers is of a deep blue color, unlike most oils which are pale yellow. The oil is said to be "very effective in controlling inflammation." Certainly the remedy is of primary value in controlling inflamed tempers.

According to the Doctrine of Signatures, how a plant appears and responds in the wild can relate to some of its characteristics in the herb and in the remedy form. As mentioned above, it is good for controlling tempers; also, it is noted that in cultivation, chamomile will bloom in two months from sowing and thus provide two crops in one season. This manner of growth is suggestive of energetic, even exaggerated, response to stimulus and a lack of patience. Activity is a chief characteristic of the plant. Because of its strong preference for daylight, as well as sandy and clay soils, it strongly avoids damp and shady places.

CHAMOMILE: THE HERB

Chamomile tea is much used in compresses for anti-inflammatory purposes. When the inflammation is persistent, oak bark is the primary herb of choice, but chamomile can be used as a variation. Chamomile is very suitable for indolent ulcers such as appear on the legs of diabetics and for eczema which is sub-acute. In some cases chamomile will terminate a weeping eczema quite rapidly. It also can be mixed with hypericum oil or echinacea if there is a highly resistant indolent lesion, such as bed sores, or if the patient has a "super infection" caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. The whole plant is odoriferous and of value, but the quality of the herb is chiefly centered in the flower heads.

The ancient Egyptians dedicated chamomile to the sun god because of its fever reducing effect and the oil of chamomile was used as a rub for neuralgia and rheumatic pains.

Chamomile is a favorite of women and children in Europe (and in parts of the United States) and is part of the daily diet of many of these people. It is the best known European "cure all". It has many proven properties.

The top of the list is its anti-spasmodic effect, it also has a very strong anti-inflammatory capability. Internally or externally applied, it will reduce inflammation caused by infections, wounds, metabolic disorders and so forth. Used on the teeth, it relieves swelling and pain very effectively. Related to the above properties is chamomile's sedative properties. Other proven actions of the herb include anti-ulcer, anti-bacterial (against both staph and strep) and antimycotic effects as well as having general usefulness in treating dermatological conditions. The traditional roles of an herbal bitter, such as the stimulating effects on the liver have been firmly established. Off and on, researchers have investigated the anti-tumor or anti-cancer (malignant tumors and carcinomas of the liver, stomach, mouth, skin and brain) properties of chamomile, always with positive results.

Furthermore, chamomile possesses a definite and proven uterine tonic property. In one carefully controlled study, Russian researchers were able to isolate and document the tonic effect of simple herbal extracts on uterine tissues (from animals). Of those yielding positive results, chamomile had the greatest activity. The anti-inflammatory effect is due to the chemical constituent Chamazulene. All of these properties contribute towards making chamomile one of the more documented medicinal plants, yet it still retains a permanent role in traditional herbal medicine.

MEDICINAL ACTION AND USES

The use of Chamomile as a tonic, stomachic, anodyne and anti-spasmodic is primarily through the use of a decoction, an infusion or by using the oil. Infusion (properly known as chamomile tea) is an old fashioned, but extremely efficacious remedy for hysterical and nervous affections in women and is also used as an emmenagogue. It is a wonderfully soothing sedative and has an absolutely harmless effect. It is considered a preventative and the sole certain remedy for nightmares. It will cut short an attack of delirium tremens in the early stages and it has also been used occasionally in intermittent fevers.

Chamomile tea should in all cases be prepared in a covered vessel in order to prevent the escape of steam as the medicinal value of the flowers is, to a considerable extent, impaired by any evaporation.

The action of chamomile covers the signs and symptoms of stomach ulcers quite well. It helps to inhibit the inflammatory reaction and promote healing of the actual ulcer. Chamomile not only gives symptomatic improvement in these cases, but directly effects the cure by influencing the pathological process. It does require a sufficient quantity for it to be used long enough for the ulcer to heal. It will also help to reduce the motility and secretion of the stomach and this will help reduce some of the painful spasms that go along with a stomach ulcer.

CHAMOMILE: THE REMEDY

The chief guiding symptoms we see in the mental and emotional real makes this remedy a leader in many forms of disease. It is especially employed in the diseases of children where peevishness, restlessness and colic give the appropriate indications. Chamomile's presentation is characterized by unsurpassed hypersensitivity to pain and an angry, almost accusatory, response to that pain. The pains seem be quite unbearable and often are out of proportion to any obvious pathological lesion. The pains are drawing or tearing in nature and are often accompanied by a feeling of numbness or burning heat. The complaints are usually voiced in a hostile and vehement fashion.

The irritability that they demonstrate seems to more of the nervous system than of the mind, they have a pronounced reaction to stimuli as if the nerves themselves were irritable. This certainly contributes to their hypersensitivity to light, noise, etc. A disposition that is calm, mild and gentle with sluggish and constipated bowels contraindicate chamomile's use.

THE CHAMOMILE APPEARANCE

The chamomile patient appears often with light brown hair and fair complexion. The child is in a petulant snapping, snarling mood, cries when approached or interfered with and quiets down while being carried. Particularly, the hypersensitivity may result in jerking and twitching from mortification, chagrin, or excitement; if punished, the child may throw a fit of convulsions.

The chamomile patient, whether adult or child, is morbidly sensitive. Their temper becomes a turmoil and restlessness is extremely obvious, they are intolerably irritable and impatient; everything is unbearable, the pain is intolerable. The child cannot bear to be even looked at, spoken to or approached without flying into a???ge. Nothing pleases this person, every trifle annoys them terribly. The child howls for a toy and when it is brought throws it away and demands for something else. They are very easily chagrined or offended, they become melancholy, they sit and they brood and they refuse to reply when spoken to - they appear absorbed in thought is a result of pent up rage or resentment. Symptoms of illness may arose from anger, either suppressed or vented or from contradiction or interference.

THE CHAMOMILE PHYSIOLOGY

The circulation takes part in the turmoil, and heat and shivering may become intermingled. Their appetite is usually poor and there may be a craving for coffee or narcotics. Kent, however, speaks in aversion to coffee, warm drinks, soup and fluids. There is a marked thirst for cold water which is liable to be held in the mouth for quite a while before being swallowed. There is a desire for acid drinks. Sleep is disturbed by much moaning, starting and tossing; or maybe unable to stay in bed. They get up to walk up and down and may search for easement of their distress. They may be sleepy, but are still unable to get to sleep.

THE CHAMOMILE MENTALS

These are irritable infants or children; they may even strike or kick at the parent or doctor. They have great anger and they must be carried by a parent in order to quiet them down. They have an aversion to being touched by others and become even more angry if they are touched. They are capricious, demanding something and then throwing it away as soon as they receive it. They appear abnormally sensitive to pain and will be spiteful and snappish. Mental calmness definitely contraindicates chamomile.

THE CHAMOMILE HEAD

Throbbing headaches in half the brain with inclination to bend the head backwards, they get a hot clammy sweat on the forehead and scalp. The headaches are brought onor made worse by anger and generally get worse in the evening. Heat and warm wraps afford some relief to the head pain. Any facial neuralgias associated with pain inside the mouth is typically more relieved by cold, but better with heat if the pain is located in the side of the face or where ears are. They often present with one cheek red and one pale and chamomile is a good remedy

THE CHAMOMILE EYES

The eyes tend to be swollen in the morning with adherent lids. There may be a sensation as if the eyeball were lightly compressed from alii angles. They could have blepharospasm where there is a spasmadic closing of the eyelids.

THE CHAMOMILE EARS

There can be ringing in the cars, earache with soreness and the swelling and pain drive the patient frantic. The ear can feel stopped up. worse on stooping with a tearing pain. Tinnitus occurs with tinkling or buzzing noises.

THE CHAMOMILE NOSE

With Chamomile's general level of hypersensitivity, it comes as no surprise that they are sensitive to all smells. Coryza with inability to sleep.

THE CHAMOMILE THROAT

The parotid and submaxillary glands may be swollen, this would be very common in teething infants. Other individuals will have constriction and pain as if from a plug in the throat.

THE CHAMOMILE STOMACH

They have foul eructations. Nausea after coffee Sweats after eating or drinking. Aversion to warm drinks, and the tongue can be yellow or taste bitter. Gastraligia as if from a stone left in the stomach. As previously mentioned, thirsty for cold drinks.

THE CHAMOMILE ABDOMEN

These people are distended with gripping in the region of the naval and pain in the small of the back. Flatulent colic especially after anger with red cheeks and hot perspiration. Attacks occur of severe vomiting associated with violent retching, as if the stomach would be torn to shreds. The sufferer is covered with cold sweat and becomes exhausted. A similar type of vomiting is caused by Morphine in sensitive subjects. Bloating may occur after meals with painful belching. Local heat applied to the abdomen may give relief, otherwise the child doubles up and kicks and screams with pain.

THE CHAMOMILE STOOL

Hot, grainy, watery, foul smelling with colic describes it well. Soreness of the anus or hemorrhoid with painful fissures. Colic is felt while urinating.

THE CHAMOMILE LYMPHATIC AND GLANDULAR SYSTEM

The breasts become tender and the nipples become sore and inflamed. Tenderness of the breasts in infants.

THE CHAMOMILE GENITAL SYSTEM

This female will present with uterine hemorrhage of dark blood with clots accompanied by labor like pains. Early menstrual periods are accompanied by dysmenorrhea: the flow is heavy, dark with many large clots; the patient feels hot, thirsty and exceedingly cross. In labor, the severe pains extend from the back to the medial aspect of the thighs. The remedy may be called for in threatened abortion. There may be a yellow, acrid leucorrhea.

THE CHAMOMILE RESPIRATORY

These individuals present with hoarseness, hawking and rawness of the larynx. Irritable, dry, thick, cough with the rattling of mucous in the child's chest. The cough, especially the dry cough is worse from 9-12 at night. There is breath holding in angry children. This may be a remedy to consider for croup, bronchitis and asthma.

THE CHAMOMILE BACK

Insupportable pains in loins, and hips. Lumbago or stiffness of the neck muscles.

THE CHAMOMILE EXTREMITIES

Violent rheumatic pains drive the person out of bed at night and forces them to walk around seeking relief. Burning of the soles of the feet at night, the arms are apt to go to sleep when grasping objects. Cramps occur in the legs and the ankles seem weak and easily turn over. The feet are hot and they must be stuck out of the covers at night.

THE CHAMOMILE SLEEP

Drowsiness with moaning, weeping and wailing during sleep. Anxious frightened dreams with half opened eyes, it is a restless sleep and they wake often.

THE CHAMOMILE MODALITIES

There is aggravation from exposure to heat and drafts, from wind and from being wet. The symptoms tend to be worse from taking coffee, both before and during menstruation, at 9 am or 9 pm and in the first part of the night. They feel better in warm, moist, humid weather, a modality shared with Causticum, Hepar-sulph., Kali-carb. and Nux-vomica. Being carried or being driven in a car also affords relief.

Chamomile will often give relief in nausea and vomiting or other ill effects of Morphine. It also reduces some irritable states resulting from the abuse of narcotics or coffee. Boericke lists the complimentary medicines as Belladonna and Mag-carb. and it is obvious that Coffea would also be a complimentary to Chamomile.

CONCLUSIONS

Chamomile is a Godsend to any parent that has a child that is teething. They only have to go through that for one night before the parent becomes as desperate for this remedy as the child is. However, its use in other conditions make it serviceable in many regions of the body. There are remarkable benefits from mixing the homeopathic remedy with the more pharmacological effect of using the herb since this can potentiate the value of both in many types of health conditions. While it is clearly not a "cure all" as mentioned earlier in this article, it does have a tremendous amount of value and is both a remedy and an herbal preparation that we can use for the benefit of our families and our patients.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Humbart Santillo, Natural Healing with Herbs, Hohm Press, Prescott Valley, AZ, 1992.

Rudolf F. Weiss, Herbal Medicine, Beaconsfield Publishers Ltd., Beaconsfield, England, 1982.

Daniel B. Mowrey, Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine, Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT, 1986.

Maria Treben, Health Trough God's Pharmacy, Wilhelm Ennsthaler, Steyr, Austria, 1991.

Douglas Gibson, Studies of Homeopathic Remedies, Beaconsfield Publishers, Beaconsfield, England, 1987.

Roger Morrison, Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms, Hahnemann Clinic Publishing, Albany, CA, 1993.

Boericke, Pocket Manual of Homeopathic Materia Medica with Repertory and Indian Drugs, B. Jain Publisher, Ltd, New Delhi, India, 1990.

Chiropractic Academy of Homeopathy.

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By Dean Martens

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