Manzanilla, or Camomile tea, is a very popular drink in Spain. Camomile (and there are numerous different spellings used) is a very versatile, natural herb with many potential uses.
Other Names: Camomile, Chamomile, Wild Chamomile, Sweet Chamomile, German Chamomile, Hungarian Chamomile, Mayweed, Scented Mayweed, Pineapple Weed
Chamaemilum nobile is a perennial and is also known as Roman chamomile. It can be used as a groundcover since it grows only 4 to 12 inches in height. The foliage is feathery with an apple scent, and it daisy-like flowers with down-turned petals.
Matricarai Recutita is the annual form of chamomile and is also called German chamomile. It grows to 20 inches and has feathery foliage with daisy-like flowers like it’s cousin. The flowers are scented, but the foliage is not.
Roman chamomile is usually propagated by root division, while German chamomile seeds are sown directly in early spring. The soil should be sandy and slightly acid. Full sun is preferred except in hot, dry climates where midday shade is necessary. After flowering, cut back to the main growth
Roman chamomile foliage can be chopped and stirred into butter or sour cream that is used to top baked potatoes.
German Chamomile is most commonly used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The flowers are edible and quite tasty in salads or made into a refreshing cold or warm beverage.
Chamomile flowers are used in alternative medicine as an anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, nervine, stomachic, tonic and vasodilatory.
The flowers contain various volatile oils including proazulenes. Steam distillation of these proazulenes produce chamazulene, remarkably anti-allergenic and useful in the treatment of asthma and hay fever.
The main constituents of Chamaemelum have been identified as esters of angelic and tiglic, together with amyl and isobutyl alcohols. It also contains anthemol and a hydrocarbon anthemene.
Chamomile flower tea is used as a sedative and is good for insomnia and numerous other nervous conditions. The tea has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it good for rheumatism, arthritis, and other painful swellings.
It is also an antispasmodic for intestinal and menstrual cramps, relieving gas pains, acts as a very mild but efficient laxative, and loosens tight muscles. Milder tea in large doses can be given throughout the day for fevers, sore throats, the aches and pains due to colds, flu, and allergies.
It is nervine and sedative and is especially suited to teething children and those who have been in a highly emotional state over a long period of time.
It can also be applied externally as a wash or compress for skin inflammations, sunburn, burns, and added to bath for relaxing tired, achy muscles and feet, and softening the skin. The flowers can be made into a salve for use on hemorrhoids and wounds.
The dried herb is made into potpourri and herb pillows, and is burned for aromatherapy. The dried flowers are used as an insect repellent and an infusion of the flowers is used as a hair shampoo, especially for fair hair.
An essential oil from the whole plant is used as a flavoring and in making perfume. The flowers are also sometimes added to cosmetics as an anti-allergen agent.
It is used as a liquid feed and plant tonic, effective against a number of plant diseases.
Relaxing tea: 1 cup boiling water and 2 tsp. dried flowers.
Bath: Use ½ to 1 cup fresh or dried herb tied in a linen bag. Place in tub with hot water and let soak for 10 min. before adding cold water. Do not add soap to the bath as it will coat your skin and not allow the Chamomile to penetrate.
Try the tea while you’re soaking in the bath!
Soak 100g of flowers in 1 litre of white wine for two days. Filter and conserve in a well-closed bottle. A glass after the main meal will be beneficial.