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What is German Chamomile?

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  • Written By: Anna Harrison
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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German chamomile, or Matricaria recutita, is an annual herb that has been used for centuries as a natural sedative. It is usually brewed into an herbal tea, but it also is available in capsule or tincture forms. German chamomile is often mistaken for Roman chamomile, which belongs to a different species but is used to treat many of the same medical conditions. It originated in Europe but has naturalized over the years throughout most of the world.

This plant has a tall main stem with many side branches full of finely divided, fern-like leaves. The 1-inch (2.5-cm) flowers are white with yellow centers and resemble small, short-petaled daisies. It is extremely easy to grow and thrives in nearly any type of soil, including clay. It will grow well in the poorest soil and at high altitudes. For the best growth, German chamomile should be planted in full sun, but it will tolerate partial shade.

This plant is known by several other names, including Hungarian chamomile and wild chamomile. It is also known as pineapple weed, in reference to the pineapple-like shape of the flower clusters. In addition, it is sometimes called Chamomile blue, because the high azulene content in German chamomile gives the essential oil of this plant a beautiful blue color.

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German chamomile is usually brewed into a tea and is one of the most common herbal teas sold in stores. It is consumed for its sedative properties and often is used to help calm nerves and treat insomnia. This tea has been given to children for years to soothe teething pain and soreness. In addition, it may be effective in easing an upset stomach, cold symptoms and skin problems. The dried flowers of this herb and the tea are often added to baths to help ease the symptoms of chickenpox, insect stings or bites, and poison ivy. It is among the safest of medicinal herbs, with a very low chance of allergic reaction and very few side effects.

This herb has a pleasant, apple-like scent and is used in aromatherapy to relieve migraines and nervousness. A wide range of stress-related conditions are said to be helped by inhaling the chamomile aroma. The tincture or essential oil form can be added to vaporizers or heated on a stove to perfume the air. Many scented products are made with German chamomile, including candles, incense and potpourri. The essential oil of German chamomile is a common ingredient in natural skin lotions and creams, in which it is used to calm and heal skin irritations.

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