Bitter chamomile, also known as German chamomile, is an erect, aromatic, annual herb with several branches growing unto 20 to 45 cms high. It has thread-like leaves. Terminal flower heads are about 2.5 cm across, on slender branched stalks, bearing an outer whorl of 10 to 20 white flowers with a yellow centre. The flowers of the plant constitute the drug chamomile.
The herb contains a volatile oil. This oil consists of chamazulene, farnesene and bisabolol. Other constituents of chamomile are flavonoids, coumarins, plant acids, fatty acids, cyanogenic glycosides salicylate derivatives, polysaccharides, choline, amino acids and tannin.
Bitter chamomile flowers contain many medicinal virtues. They relieve flatulence, induce copious perspiration and regulate menstrual periods. They are also stimulant and useful in dissolving or absorbing a tumour or any coagulated fluids in the body.
Chamomile is an effective remedy for digestive disorders, specially of nervous origin. It can be used beneficially in dyspepsia, flatulence and colic. A powder of the flowers or I to 3 drops of oil extracted from flowers is taken in I to 2 gram doses in the treatment of such disorders. A cold infusion of the flowers is useful in indigestion and summer diarrhoea in doses of 30 to 60 grams.
Chamomile is useful in insomnia. An infusion of its flowel1 induces sleep.
A warm infusion of the flowers is taken in the treatment of painful and difficult menstruation.
An infusion of the flowers has a relaxing effect and is of special value to hyperactive children. It acts as a nervine sedative and tonic on the gastro-intestinal canal. The flowers are useful for earache, neuralgic pains, stomach disorder$, convulsions and ailments caused by dentition.
Two of the components, bisabolol and chamazulene contained in the volatile oil of the herb are powerful antiseptic. Chamazulene relieves pain, promotes healing of wounds and is anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. Applied externally, it helps recovery from bums and soothes eczema. Recent investigations show that bisabolol speeds up healing of ulcers and prevent reoccurrence.
Chamomile is also useful in treating rheumatic affliction~ where its extracted oil, diluted in a vegetable oil is, rubbed on the affected parts. It eases the pain of rheumatism and gout. A compress of chamomile flowers is used to treat sciatica.