Chamomile also referred to as Babune ka Phal in Hindi, has a stellar reputation for healing, and with good reason. It is prepared from dried flowers and it brings an oasis of calm and tranquility. The beautiful Chamomile flower is native to Asia, Europe, Australia and North America, and blooms during the early summer months.
If you’re overworked or suffering from a cold, steep a hot cup of Chamomile tea, inhale its wonderful floral fragrance and then see your worries disappear as you sip this magical golden brew.
This herbal tea has a fruit-like flavor similar to apple and besides being delicious, has a number of valuable therapeutic properties. It has been found to contain 28 terpenoids and 36 flavonoid compounds including the bioactive components – coumarins, flavonoids, terpenoids and mucilage. Together, these properties give this delicate little flower its potent healing touch.
How to harvest chamomile flower
The easiest way to harvest chamomile is by pinching off the flower heads, using your hand as a “rake”. Slide your hand underneath the chamomile flower, slipping the stem between two fingers. Then gently lift your hand until the flower head pops off the plant.
Once the flower comes off in your hand, turn it over and gently shake it or blow on it to remove any insects. Or wipe them away with your fingers if they’re really stubborn. Bugs like chamomile (just like humans do!) so make sure your flowers are bug free before you dry them!
As long as you didn’t spray pesticides on your plants as they were growing, you shouldn’t need to wash or rinse the flowers. In fact, you shouldn’t get them wet or you might wash away some of the pollen, and the flowers might mold as they dry.
How to dry chamomile?
You can let your flowers air dry, or you can dry them in a dehydrator! If you want to dry chamomile in a dehydrator, trim all the stems off so that you are left with just the flower. Place the flowers on a dehydrator tray (I use the solid “fruit leather” trays that came with the dehydrator so they don’t fall through the trays as they dry), dehydrator on. The flowers should be dry in 12-24 hours, depending on how humid it is where you live.
If you want to air dry chamomile flowers, remove all stems and leaves and place the flowers on a screen. Set them aside for a few days until they are dried. Once your flowers are completely dried, put the whole flowers into an airtight container for storage. You don’t want to crumble the flowers if you can help it; crumbling the dried flowers will release their flavor, so it’s best if you crumble them right before you use them, rather than right before you store them! Most herbs will last about a year in storage as long as they are in an airtight container and don’t get wet.
Chamomile tea recipe
You need about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of dried chamomile flowers per 8 oz. cup of water, depending on how strong you want your tea. Chamomile is supposed to be a light flavor, so even though I normally like my tea quite strong, I err on the lesser side and use about 1 teaspoon per cup.
The secret to tea is, if you want your flavor stronger, use more dried flowers rather than leaving the flowers steeping for longer. Most herbal, green, and white teas will get bitter if you leave them steeping too long, so for a stronger flavor; add more dried tea but stick to the recommended brew time.
If you stored your flowers whole, feel free to crumble them slightly just before brewing them; it will help release more of the flavor stored in the flowers. Measure the dried flowers into your tea strainer (or tea bag, or tea ball, or whatever!) Boil a full kettle of water. Once the water boils, pour the water into the teapot immediately. Green and white teas are delicate and the leaves will burn and become bitter if you steep them in water that’s too hot. When making green or white tea, it’s better to let the water cool for about a minute before adding it to the tea leaves. But herbal teas are quite hardy and can handle extremely hot water temperatures, so pour that boiling water in right away!
Let the tea steep for 5-7 minutes, then remove the flowers, pour the tea into a cup, and enjoy! Bonus: If you don’t throw the flowers away immediately, you can brew a second pot of tea with the same flowers later! Most teas can be brewed more than once; follow the same directions, just steep the tea for half again as long when you make the second pot. I usually do 7 minutes for my first pot of chamomile tea and 10 minutes for my second. If you don’t want to make a second pot right away, put the flowers in the fridge; they’ll last in there for a day or two.
Health benefits of chamomile tea
1. Chamomile tea promotes sleep and improves insomnia
Chamomile tea relaxes nerves and soothes the nervous system, therefore helping you sleep better. It lacks the addition of caffeine, and is best consumed before sleeping.
2. Chamomile tea relieves from stomach cramps
The strong antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties found in chamomile tea make it an effective remedy for stomach cramps. Drink tea twice a day, in the morning and the evening to relieve pressure and pain. The anti-inflammatory nature of chamomile tea makes this relaxant a popular choice for women dealing with the symptoms of menstruation like bloating, cramping, anxiety, sweating, inability to sleep, and mood swings. Chamomile tea can directly affect many of these symptoms by soothing the mind and body and reducing inflammation that may be causing discomforts.
3. Chamomile tea relieves from stress
One of the most popular uses of a cup of chamomile tea is in the treatment of stress and anxiety. After a long day at work, the warm, soothing nature of this beverage can help increase the levels of serotonin and melatonin in your body. These hormones can successfully eliminate stress and worry, while also slowing down your mind and eliminating the classic symptoms of anxiety. 1-2 cups of chamomile tea per day can do a significant help against chronic stress. Again, while pregnancy can be a stressful time and its consumption can cause an increased risk of miscarriage.
4. Chamomile tea boosts immune system
Regular consumption of chamomile tea benefits the immune system and increases hippurate levels. Hippurate helps stimulate the immune system as it fights harmful bacteria in the body. This tea also helps with common colds or other viral infections.
5. Chamomile tea high in anti-oxidants
The main antioxidant components extracted from chamomile flowers are the terpenoids group of antioxidants, including Chamazulene and acetylene derivatives. Because these delicate compounds are unstable, they’re thought to be best preserved in an alcoholic tincture or “essential oil” form. Other major constituents of the flowers include several phenolic compounds, primarily the flavonoids, including apigenin, quercetin, patuletin as well as various glucosides.
These compounds lower inflammation by fighting free radical damage and preventing cell mutation. Chamomile benefits start with antioxidants that are associated with better immune function; lower rates of mood disorders; reduced pain and swelling; and healthier skin, hair, nails, teeth and eyes.
6. Chamomile tea fights anxiety and depression
Chamomile, whether in tea, tincture or essential oil form, is one the best medicinal herbs for fighting stress and promoting relaxation, according to research from Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Pharmacognosy Review. Inhaling chamomile vapors using chamomile essential oils is often recommended as a natural remedy for anxiety and general depression, which is one reason why chamomile oil is a popular ingredient in many candles, aromatherapy products and bath-soaking treatments.
In extract form, chamomile is frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety because its vapors travel directly to the olfactory part of the brain, turning off tension and reducing the body’s stress response. This is why practitioners use chamomile to effectively relieve symptoms of chronic anxiety and stress, including hysteria, nightmares, insomnia and various digestive problems.
Smells are carried directly to the brain, and they serve as an emotional trigger. The limbic system evaluates the sensory stimuli, registering pleasure, pain, danger or safety; this t hen directs our emotional response, such as feelings of fear, anger and attraction. Our basic emotions and hormonal balance are in response to the most basic smell. Scents are a direct pathway to memory and emotion. Fragrances, like chamomile, relieve pain and generally affect personality and behavior. Research proves that using oil fragrances is one of the fastest ways to achieve psychological results.
7. Chamomile tea helps in fighting cancer
Recently, several studies dug into the anti-cancer activity of chamomile. Evidence shows positive effects of chamomile stopping cancerous tumor growth and acting as a natural cancer treatment. Inhibition of cancerous cells is believed to be due to chamomile’s antioxidants called apigenin, which are bioactive constituents that appear to help fight skin, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers.
In a recent study published by the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, chamomile extracts were shown to cause minimal growth inhibitory effects on normal healthy cells, but showed significant reductions in human cancer cells, especially androgen-refractory cells that often lead to prostate cancer.
8. Chamomile tea promotes skin health
Suffering from breakouts or dry, irritated, aged, red skin? Try using chamomile oil mixed into lotion. Chamomile promotes smooth, healthy skin and relieves irritations thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Chamomile’s flavonoids and essential oils penetrate below the skin surface into the deeper skin layers of the skin, preserving its youthful appearance, completion and immune defenses. As a traditional medicine, it’s been used for centuries to treat wounds, ulcers, eczema, gout, skin irritations, bruises, burns and canker sores.
Today, we know chamomile benefits and uses go even further — it’s also useful for getting rid of signs of aging like dark spots and fine lines, reducing dandruff naturally, treating chickenpox quickly, and fading scars. Additionally, it makes a great natural diaper rash treatment and can even be used around the eyes to fight infections and sties.
9. Chamomile tea improves heart health
Recently, chamomile has been associated with providing cardiovascular protection. Because of its high level of flavonoids, chamomile consumed in foods is linked with a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease in elderly men. One study published in The Lancet assessed the flavonoid intake of 805 men aged 65–84 years and found that higher flavonoid intake from foods and herbs was significantly inversely associated with mortality from coronary heart disease.
10. Chamomile tea reduces risk of thyroid and breast cancer
Many people in Greece enjoy herbal teas, especially chamomile tea. Not surprisingly, researchers have found that the rate of thyroid cancer in Greece is much lower than those found in the United States or Europe. It was found that persons who drank chamomile tea six times a week had a 70 percent less chance of developing thyroid cancer and those who consumed the tea regularly for thirty years had an 80 percent lower risk.
It is suspected that flavonoids in the chamomile such as apigenin, found also in celery, fruit, herbs and parsley, contributes to its anti-cancer potency. In animal studies, apigenin has been found to shrink cancerous tumors.
Other Ways To Use Dried Chamomile Flowers
Here are a few suggested ways to use dry chamomile flowers (available to buy from here) for therapeutic use.
In the bath: For inflammation and irritated skin, add 2 ounces of dried flowers to warm bath water. Add 15 drops of tea tree essential oil for added benefit.
Gargle: Pour 4 ounces of boiling water over ½ ounce of dried flowers and let steep for ten minutes. Use as a gargle to reduce inflammation of mouth and throat.
Inhalation: To reduce inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, pour 4 ounces of boiling water over ½ ounce of dried flowers. Place a towel over your head and breathe in steam 1-3 times a day.