Remember the story of Peter Rabbit? He was given a cup of chamomile tea by his Ma to soothe and calm, after barely escaping with his life in Farmer John’s garden. Age old tales always leave their mark and wisdom and this one in particular made chamomile famous!
Last week I stumbled upon some wild chamomile (Matricaria Discoidea), also known as ‘Pineapple Weed’, while walking on the countryside. I was busying away picking mugwort, when I felt the pull, looked across the trail, and to my surprise, there it was!
I sat for awhile, listened, studied the plant, whipped out my trusty foraging guide (note: wild chamomile grows *without* flower petals) and then decided to lean down and smell its little yellow buds.
Wow!!! If you’ve ever had a warm cup of spicy chamomile tea, the smell is truly unmistakable. I was catapulted into an instant euphoric faerie coma! I knew, I had finally been introduced to chamomile; a wild nervine, immune boosting, digestive wonder and one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind!
What a beautiful week spent wandering in the university of the wild ……………
Wild Chamomile is native to Europe and is a low-lying (approx. 6″) bushy little guy, generally found along driveways, pasture lanes, and paths through fields and meadows that are trampled frequently (which is why it has long been associated with humility, as it grows better the more it is trodden on).
The flowers “bloom” from March to September and it is easy to identify by the pencil eraser sized yellow/green flower buds and sweet smell when crushed.
In her book ‘A Modern Herbal’, Mrs. Grieves writes about chamomile’s amazing ability to heal plants, as well as people:
“The Chamomile used in olden days to be looked upon as the ‘Plant’s Physician,’ and it has been stated that nothing contributes so much to the health of a garden as a number of Chamomile herbs dispersed about it, and that if another plant is drooping and sickly, in nine cases out of ten, it will recover if you place a herb of Chamomile near it.”
Chamomile is not only an important medicine for the nervous system, but also has immune boosting properties, as well as aiding in digestion. Its main constituent is azulen, a gorgeous blue volatile oil that not only gives chamomile its sweet smell, but also works as an anti-inflammatory (reducing inflammation), anti-pyretic (reducing fever), and anti-septic (anti-microbial).
Chamomile is the ultimate soother, bringing a sense of inner peace and calm, helping one to let go of fear and worry, as well as gain confidence and compassion.
Chamomile embodies masculine energy and is known as an herb of purification and protection and can be used as incense to aid both meditation and sleep.
It also works on the solar plexus chakra, where we take in energy from others and is great for those who tend to be fiery, over-sensitive, and prone to feeling tension in the stomach area.
The flowers can be dried and made into a medicinal tea, used as a hair rinse (esp. for blonde hair), or a comforting bath infusion.
Alternatively the fresh flowers can be steam distilled for its medicinal essential oils. The essential oil can be added to a carrier oil to soothe sore muscles and relax and calm the mind.
The flowers can also be tinctured. A few drops may be taken just before meals to aid with digestion.
Note: Always make sure that you get a positive ID before consuming any wild plants and also be conscious of the fact that for some people, wild plants may cause allergic reaction.