Chamomile, both the German and Roman (English) varieties, are used in herbal medicine for a sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid. It is also used as a mild laxative and is anti-inflammatory and bactericidal. It can be taken as an herbal tea, two teaspoons of dried flower per cup of tea, which should be steeped for ten to fifteen minutes while covered to avoid evaporation of the volatile oils.
Chamomile comes in both annual (grows just once a year) and perennial (returns year after year) types. German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is the annual type; Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is the perennial type.
Growing just 3 to 9 inches high, Roman chamomile spreads about 24 inches, making it useful as a ground cover as well. In fact, the lawns at Buckingham Palace are made of chamomile… not grass! It covers itself from early to mid summer in pretty yellow and white flowers, which can be made into chamomile tea – reputed to soothe upset stomachs and digestive systems as well as calm the nerves.
German chamomile will grow 1 to 2 ft tall and is lovely grown in any flower bed or border.
Chamomile likes its soil moist but not wet and the short Roman type does well between pavers and stepping-stones, giving off a sweet scent when stepped upon.
Chamomile performs well where temperatures in summer do not regularly reach 100 degrees F.
HOW TO GROW CHAMOMILE:
German Chamomile is an annual but will reseed itself, keeping you well supplied with the tiny white and yellow flowers that you want to harvest. You can grow it in the garden or yard or you can grow it in containers.
Plant chamomile about 6″ apart, at the same depth as in the pot. Grow it near onions, cabbage and wheat to repel flying insects and increase crop yield. Grow it with mint to increase the flavor of the mint.
Keep your chamomile moist until well established. Then, reduce the water so it’s on the dry side.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS:
Chamomile is a relative of ragweed and can cause allergy symptoms and can cross-react with ragweed pollen in individuals with ragweed allergies. It also contains coumarin and thus care should be taken to avoid potential drug interactions, e.g. with blood thinners.
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