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The Healing Power of Daisies

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Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea and related species).

Also called Purple Coneflower and native to the U.S., this plant was the most widely used medicinal plant of the Central Plains Indians, being used for a variety of conditions. The leaf and root are mildly antibacterial, antiviral, and used for wound healing. German research has confirmed, in numerous clinical studies, the usefulness of Echinacea purpurea in strengthening the body's immune system as well as prevention and natural treatment of colds and flu.

From the Botanical Council of America

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CHAMOMILE:
(Chamomilla recutita L. ), Chamaemelum nobile L. (Roman), Compositae/Asteraceae

List of Uses

Food:

  • tea fresh flowers preferred over dried.

Medicine:

  • may aid digestion, may prevent ulcers, and relieve arthritis pain.
  • chamomile flowers may be used topically to treat abrasions, inflammations, eczema and acne. Azullene in chamomile may stimulate liver regeneration.
  • British scientists purport chamomile stimulates infection fighting macrophages and B lymphocytes of the human immune system. Good as healing moisturizing skin wash. Inhale steam of chamomile for upper respiratory infection relief (sinusitis)
  • use hot tea steam as an inhalant for sinus congestion.
  • wash hair with the tea to improve quality and sheen.
  • prepared in lotions and ointments as antiseptic treatment of sore gums, wounds, raw or sore nipples and other inflammations.

    Preparation:
    As a tea, water just off boil preferably over fresh flowers cover with lid to cool. Lick oils off lid, drink tea. Blend tea of chamomile with calendula flowers.

    Chemistry:
    Anthemol, apigenin, apiin, nobilin, epicatechol, quercitrin, rutin, luteolin, scopoletin, taraxasterol, chromium, alpha pinene, p-cyment, alpha copaene, cineole, borneol, bisaboline, umbelliferone.

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CHAMOMILE
Botanical Name: Chamomilla Recutita
Family: Asteraceae
Part used: Flowers

There are many species of Chamomile that grow all over the Northern temperate zones and the recorded history of its medicinal use goes back to the times of the ancient Egyptians. The name derives from the Greek words kamai (on the ground) and melon (apple). The Spanish, named it manzanilla (little apple) for the sweet, fruity smell it emits when lightly rubbed between the hands. It was traditionally used as a strewing herb in medieval times, and if it is planted between the cracks of paving stones or on garden paths, it will give off a rich but delicate perfume each time it is trodden upon. Several species have been used medicinally but German Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) is generally considered to the preferred one although Roman chamomile (Anthemus nobilis) is also commonly used. The part used in herbal medicine is the flower head, picked just as it comes into bloom and dried carefully to prevent browning. It has a sweet scent and taste with just a hint of bitterness.

Chamomile is widely used in folk medicine around the world. The main therapeutic attributes are anti-inflammatory and relaxing (to both nervous and smooth muscle tissue). It is also bitter and has a pronounced inhibitory effect upon allergic sensitivities.

The anti-inflammatory action is best seen in topical application (as a compress, soak or cream) but is also very effective in the whole digestive system. Thus it can be used as an eyewash for any minor eye inflammations or irritations; as a skin wash or a cream for excema, psoriasis or varicose veins; as a douche for all vaginal infections or inflammations and for leucorrhoea; or may be taken orally for ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or minor hepatic inflammations.

The anti-spasmodic effects of chamomile are pronounced. It relaxes smooth muscle which surrounds the entire digestive, respiratory, reproductive and urinary systems. It does this by inhibiting the transmission of certain nerve impulses which would otherwise activate muscle function.. Chamomile relieves spasmodic conditions such as allergic asthma, bronchitis, constipation, biliary dyskinesia, menstrual cramps and bladder spasms.

Chamomile also has a strong sedative effect in the brain. It helps in the treatment of anxiety, stress and sleep disturbance. It has long been known as one of the most gentle yet effective sedatives available, even Peter Rabbit was given Chamomile by his mother after an escapade in Mr. MacGregor's garden! It is safe for use in children, even very small babies who are fretful or distressed. A very pleasant way to extract the sedative properties is to place a cup of Chamomile flowers in a muslin bag and steep it in the bath. This will release all the volatile oils so that you can inhale the aroma, and the flower water will soften your skin. Try adding a cup oatmeal or mixing Chamomile with Rose petals or Lavender for variety. Delicious!

A traditional remedy for pain was to crush together equal parts of Chamomile flowers and poppy heads and either drink the strong tea or apply it outwardly as a poultice.

The bitter action is Chamomile is interesting because it stimulates all aspects of digestive function. The peristaltic movements are made smoother, digestive juices are released and nervous tension in the bowel is eased. Combined with the strongly carminative effect of the volatile oil, this makes Chamomile an ideal herb to use in cases of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Disease, as well as gas, indigestion, peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome.

Chamomile also has significant effects upon the immune system. The volatile oil, specifically the chamazulene component has been shown to have marked anti-bacterial effects, especially against staphylococcus aureus, a common skin pathogen, as well as being active against Candida albicans yeast. Additionally, by mechanisms yet unexplained, Chamomile makes the mucus membranes less reactive to allergen exposure. Coupled with the anti-inflammatory action, this makes Chamomile a very useful herb to include in any formula for inhalant or ingested allergies.

The volatile oil of Chamomile is one of the safest and mildest of all oils. It can safely be used on the skin undiluted and will not cause irritation or sun sensitization. For internal use the tea or the tincture forms are preferred. In the tincture the volatile oils are dissolved out into the alcohol and in the tea they are evaporated into the steam which is inhaled, either way the results are equally impressive. Chamomile may also be used as a cool compress or in a spritzer for redness, broken capillaries, bruising or any irritation of the skin. Especially useful for treating acne rosacea which usually has an underlying low-grade bacterial infection as the root of the problem. The antibacterial and the anti-inflammatory effects are both important here.

Copyright Gaia Garden Herbal Dispensary, Newsletter, 2000